The Clowns of God by Morris West
Written in the 1981, it is a pre-Divinci Code kind of book that celebrates faith while questioning it, and is both pro and anti-Catholic.
It’s about a pope who has a direct revelation from God about the end times, is declared insane, forced to resign, and the people caught up in this all. One way the ex-pope is to get his message out is by writing an anonymous book of letters to God, in which he writes from the voice of a clown in a traveling circus, using simple, every day images and idea. Like Psycho, the characters this book starts with are not necessarily the main ones, though they appear at the end.
Obviously, there’s a lot of “sole” in this book.
When asked how to interpret Scripture to the faithful, a pastor responds “As a mystery…a mystery which, under the influence of divine grace, gradually unfolds its meaning to each individual soul.”
The once-pope says “I am a persuader, not a dictator.”
Communion is seen as “A sharing of life with the source of life.” (208)
Anneliese Meissner, an atheist psychiatrist who views things from a Jungian view, talks with the ex-pope “I am forced to conclude that you are a special man with a special perception of what Jung calls the collective unconscious. Therefore, you have a magical affect on people. It is as if you are privy to their most intimate thoughts, desires, fears…So, when you talk or write about it, people feel you inside themselves, almost as a function of their own egos. As a result, everything you do or say has profound and sometimes terrible consequences. You are the giant dreaming under the volcano. When you turn in your sleep, the earth shakes.” (211)
The gospel parables use commonplace surroundings that are “like a minefield, full of traps and trip wires. They all contain contradictions, alienating elements, which bring the listener up short and make him see a new potential, for good and evil, in the most banal event.” (240)
The anonymous clown writes to God how different each person in the “circus” is, and “yet, when the show is over and we all sit at the supper table, tired and hungry, do You see much difference between us? Do you care?” (297)
Explaining why he does not believe in hell “I believe-and I have been shown only the faintest glimmer of what is to be- that the final Coming and the final Judgment itself must be acts of love. If they are not, then we inhabit a chaos created by a mad spirit, and the sooner we are released from it into nothingness, the better.” (324)
“The biggest mistake we’ve made through the ages is try to explain the ways of God to men. We shouldn’t do that. We should just announce Him. He explains Himself very well.”
Finally, “Somewhere at the deepest core of himself- the sorry fortress so beset and bombarded and ruined-there was a place of light where the Other dwelt, and where, when he could withdraw to it, there was communion of love, blissful but all too brief. It was like- what was it like?- deaf Beethoven with his head full of glories, Einstein bereft of mathematics to express the mysteries he understood at the end.”