Hud Hudson: A Grotesque in the Garden

Tesque, the angel assigned to watch over the vacated Garden of Eden, believing himself to have been abandoned by God and suffering from his isolation and loneliness, meditates on the topics of divinely permitted evil, divine hiddenness, divine deception, and obedience as he wars with himself over the decision of whether to rebel against God and leave his post. The noetic effects of sin, self-deception, moral luck, creaturely flourishing, the nature of divine love, and misanthropy are all on display in this novel on the difficulties of satisfying the two great commandments to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and to love thy neighbor as thyself.

In philosophy the genre of first-person fictional narrative is rarely used. This is likely because the philosophical issues and arguments raised are typically not illuminated by being discussed by a character whose attitudes or personality can distract from rather than enhance the topic of interest. In addition, most philosophers, both presently and historically, are not skilled enough to portray a complex literary character entirely through the character’s own voice. Yet Hud Hudson’s A Grotesque in the Garden accomplishes a rare feat: it presents two main characters whose understanding of theism and its intellectual challenges are inextricable from their personal stories, including their emotional and spiritual shortcomings, and this powerful combination is engaging for both the seasoned philosopher and the newcomer to such issues.

Hudson’s masterful portrayal of these characters manages to blend the deeply spiritual and personal needs we all have with the ways in which our intellectual reflections can sometimes exacerbate our already fraught condition. His book also reminds us that we can learn from one another, and even from fictional characters like Tesque and Naphil, if we would just enter honestly into such deeply personal discussions. While those can be harder to do with real people, the lessons learned from this engaging book can help even philosophers do them better.

I’m curious to read this book. Sounds fascinating.

I just started listening to the audiobook today and it is really good so far.

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Chapter 7 is genuinely the best chapter of the book, at least in my first skim through! Great turning point.