Book Review: Peter T. Cavallaro, Fragments: A Theological Story, ISBN 9798668649747
There is a crucial moment in the life of every convert to religion, and indeed everyone who is raised in a religion, when that person, for the first time, holding the doctrines of that religion in their mind, realizes that they pass the scrutiny of reason and thus personally accepts them as true. In the case of Christianity, such assent is aided by the gift of faith. In all theistic religions, this set of doctrines includes the statement “God exists.”
Fragments, the debut work of Peter T. Cavallaro, a New York-based Christian apologist, presents the reader with an imagined universe in which this statement needs no proof, for the gods have chosen to live in human form within the world they created. Despite that, the existence of evil has created a demand for theodicy. “God-slayers,” having come to the conclusion that any omnipotent, omniscient being that is permissive of such evil must be malevolent, search for, and destroy, these gods. Employing a variety of literary forms, Fragments takes us on the journey of one renowned god-slayer and his search for answers, and even salvation, among the last remaining gods.
Most of the book adopts a form of dialectic between the main antagonist and three different divine figures. However, the book also adopts a poetic form in its early chapters to present a view of creation from the perspective of its creator. Its thought-provoking final chapter evokes memories of Joyce’s Ulysses, as it strives to capture the dynamic of a human’s internal dialogue with a divine being.
The intention of Fragments is clear: to provide four cogent arguments to prove the existence of God. The arguments, themselves, are multilayered, having overtones of philosophy, theology, aesthetics, sociology, and anthropology. However, instead of looking to argue from metaphysical categories, Fragments bases its arguments upon universal human experiences: beauty, creativity, morality, and love. There is something very attractive about the numerous examples invoked by Fragments, all of which direct the reader to reflect attentively upon some very common occurrences. If the reader is a person of faith, he will certainly see a presentation of some of his own reasons for assenting to belief in God. For the reader who does not believe in any deity, he will encounter an appeal to some of the most fundamental aspects of his being, which, if they do not become a proof for God’s existence, will at least serve as a profound, though brief, reflection on some of the most important aspects of humanity. Indeed, humanity is seen as the theological key to unlocking the puzzle of God’s existence. All four proofs share a common foundation: humanity is created in the image and likeness of God. Viewing that image helps us see the God who created it.
Fragments concludes by allowing the reader to decide on the question of God’s existence for him or herself. Instead, a new question emerges from the story: is the journey of the god-slayer one of the atheist, or one of the faithful, who banishes all false depictions of spirituality from his or her life? Perhaps the unexpected union of this human dichotomy is evidence of a fifth proof.
To purchase Fragments: A Theological Story by Peter T. Cavallaro, click here.
Rev. Jason Grisafi, the pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Babylon, New York and Director of the Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for the Diocese of Rockville Centre in New York.