Book Review: Idolatry, Aditya Sudarshan

Book Review: Idolatry, Aditya Sudarshan

Idolatry, Aditya Aditya Sudarshan

Book Review: Idolatry, Aditya Sudarshan

 

Sometimes I wonder whether I should give up reading American and European authors in order to make time for the extraordinary voices coming from other parts of the world. I won’t actually do that, but when a book like Idolatry comes to my attention, I realize once again how much I have missed.

 

In a future-ish Mumbai, out of work actor Saionton gets an offer from The Company. Their novel product, Shrine Tech, makes it possible for someone to worship their God in the privacy of their own home. Probably the most powerful company in the world, certainly in India, their shrines invite owners to create a neural link. The shrine then uses their mental conception of God to make him/her appear via VR and holograms. You can walk with Jesus, slay the enemies of Allah, experience the power of Rama…or play soccer with Pele, drive with Andretti, or spend the night with that actress from that movie you’ve seen 100 times. You can even be your own God. The shrine makes no judgments. 

 

The Indian branch is led by the Chief Happy Maker, Roshan Debey. He is distressed that a murderer shared his plans with his shrine, but no one caught it. He wants Saionton to personally reach out to agitated and dissatisfied individuals and give them a gift from him, hoping that this small intervention will prevent a larger crime, namely, his own assassination. 

 

During his deliveries, Saionton meets a very eclectic group. A famous actor who is involuntarily retired, as well as his extraordinary girlfriend, Mandi. A documentary filmmaker. A building manager. A fiery Roman Catholic priest. A restaurateur decrying the loss of jobs. All of them have reasons to hate the company, to hate Shrine Tech, to hate the face of the company, Roshan Debey.

 

And as he travels and listens, Saionton begins to wonder whether they might have a point. 

 

Aditya Sudarshan has written a book that profoundly connects faith and technology. Can any religion survive unaffected by developments in AI, in robotics, in archeology and astronomy and physics? As machines become more intelligent and more ubiquitous, might they somehow gain what might be called a ‘soul’?

 

Furthermore, as radio worship became television worship, and as television worship is becoming virtual worship, are we losing the best part of worship, that koinonia with the community of our faith? Certainly groups of people can be manipulated and mobilized by religion. They can also be encouraged and empowered, taught to work for higher ends than just their own, taught compassion to others, inspired to become better versions of themselves. That kind of change can never happen if the God your worshiping is the God you have made. 

 

Our thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things for our copy of Idolatry, given so we could write an honest review during this blog tour. The opinions here are solely those of Scintilla. For other perspectives, check out the other bloggers on this tour. 

 

Idolatry, Aditya Aditya Sudarshan

Book Review: Idolatry, Aditya Sudarshan

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