God’s Long Summer

God’s Long Summer The novel Siddhartha and God’s Long Summer both show commonalities of religion as being an important part in the main characters of both books. In God’s Long Summer, each of the main individual characters in the first four chapters like the character Siddhartha, all were consistent with the statement, “What we believe matters. ” All of the characters from both books used religion for giving them the strength to speak their minds, move on in their lives, and fight for what they believed in or wanted to accomplish.
Also, in this book there is the statement of, “What we believe affects out vocation in relation to culture” and this pertains to the religious ideas and people’s courses of action through their faith and experiences they have went through. A person’s background determines his or her perspective on faith, so this shows how everyone is different. The statement, “What we believe matters” is the first point that sticks out to me. It is portrayed in the novel Siddhartha multiple times when Siddhartha goes through his different phases of being the son of a Braham, to living with the Samanas, to finally living on his own.
He needed to try out different paths, so he would be about to find his own enlightenment or meaning of life. He would not feel whole as a person or have peace, until he found a path that caused him to experience enlightenment. The characters in God’s Long Summer were the same way. Fannie Lou Hamer, Sam Bowers, Douglas Hudgins, and Ed King all were fighting for something, and did not want to give up until they were successful. An example of this is when Mrs. Hamer was being beat in the county jail after trying to vote. Even after being beat, Hamer still used God as her guide to influence other people.

She never backed down, but instead was comforted by God and instilled her faith for strength and acted in what she believed. Hamer was different than Siddhartha though, because she was out to change the world, and he was more focused on himself. The second important point that I found relevant of my understanding of the people and issues in God’s Long Summer was the way the characters in the books went about accomplishing their goals and got past obstacles they were faced with. Hamer was a selfless person who used God as her strength to change things. She puts herself out there, just as Siddhartha had when he lost himself.
Siddhartha had to lose himself to accomplish his goal of enlightenment. Hamer knew that if she wanted to win the fight for her voting rights that she would have to have others band together too, by using biblical stories and freedom songs to sell her cause. She believed that others like herself could be empowered by God and if whites and blacks could both believe in such a high power, and then they can believe and get along when they are on the Earth. To accomplish Hamer’s goal, she needed to improve the world, and Siddhartha wanted to escape the world to reach his goal.
Sam Bowers and Siddhartha are also examples of obstacles being thrown their way. Bowers hit rock bottom just like Siddhartha did after almost killing himself by the river. In the book, God’s Long Summer written by Charles Marsh, Marsh provides input in his first statement in the book pertaining to, “What we believe affects our vocation in relation to culture. ” This whole idea is explaining how everyone has there a different way of thinking about a higher power and Marsh wants people to be able to explore and accept the different types of faith.
In the book these varieties of faith cause blacks and whites to have disagreements on issues such as the civil rights movement. The first four chapters of the book support the illustration of what Marsh’s claim and task was. Hamer can see that the people who are discriminating against African American’s have a much different perspective on faith than she does. Bowers looks at his faith in a different way as Hamer because he doesn’t even believe that Jesus can be a Jew because if he were then he would be a part of the inner racial mix, which he was completely against. Ed King and Douglas Hudgins were also different from each other.
King had been accused of straying beyond proper bounds of the Christian faith, and Hudgins had been accused of narrowing the bounds of Christianity. Hudgins was all about the understanding of Christianity through the cultural environment, while King thought you had to be prophetic and take action even if it was through just words. I believe that Fannie Lou Hamer is the best example of what Marsh is attempting to demonstrate about the various perspectives of faith. The example that comes to mind when explaining this is when Hamer was in the county jail and was talking to the jailor’s wife about faith and religion.
Hamer used the verses from the Bible to go against the jailor’s wife and her own feelings and ideas on faith. Hamer can see that the jailor’s wife thinks she is a Christian believer, but has a different way of acting as one of God’s children. Another example I found in the first chapter about Hamer was when she was in a disagreement with her pastor. She scolded him for not being willing to adopt her stance on the subject. This shows how you think someone who is interacting with your same faith, but when it comes down to it and his or her own lived experience, people react differently.
I also found an example in Hamer’s chapter when Lyndon Johnson was running for office and he tried to tamp things down and shut up Hamer. Johnson was even supposed to be a civil rights activist and a believer in faith, but because of his the experience that he was having at the present time in his life, he was not able to be consistent with his beliefs. He said and acted, as he wanted, just so he could get elected into office. Fannie Lou Hamer’s vocation is using God as her guide to influence other people. She feels like God appointed her, and this gives her a sense of closeness to him. She uses God as her strength to change things.
Her goal is to improve the world, and help African American’s have an equal chance in the world as everyone else. Hamer is dedicated and relied on her faith for everything. The church and Christianity is a way for people to come together. Hamer feels that if both whites and blacks can believe in such a high power then they can believe and get along when they are on Earth. A contemporary social issue in which people use religion in opposing ways to support their views would be the topic of abortion. There are many similarities and differences between the issue of abortion and the civil rights issue detailed in Marsh’s book.
Some similarities between the two issues are that people have very strong opinions on the issues and there are people out there that are fighting for one side or the other on the topics. People are having meetings on abortions talking about why it should be legal or not, and in the case of the civil rights movements there were meetings happening all the time like the meeting with the Credentials Committee in God’s Long Summer. There are also politicians out there like Lyndon Johnson who claim they are all for an issue such as the civil rights movement, but when it comes down to it they may have some restrictions about the issue.
Johnson really did not want to have African American’s voting and having these kinds of rights because he didn’t want to make the larger population of people out there getting mad at him, so he could be elected into office. A difference between the two issues is the way people fight for what they want. During the civil rights movement many white people would go as far as abusing or killing blacks, so they could keep them as the lower class that is not as important. I have not heard about people who are for or against abortion going to the extent of killing to get their way or point across.
A person’s vocation usually shapes the way they think or feel about an issue. The issue of abortion means different things to different people because of their vocation. If a person feels that they have been put on this Earth to protect people and think that everyone should have an equal chance for living, then they are more likely to be against abortion. I am a Christian, and have been brought up by my parents to believe that everyone should be treated equally and can make their own choices. This means that I am not against abortions, and feel that it is the woman’s choice to make the decision.
Reading Siddhartha and God’s Long Summer has brought a lot of insight to my beliefs in religion. I am more aware of other people’s feelings and the reasons for why they believe in what they do. Beliefs are formed from a person’s past experience. I also learned how God or a person’s faith can play such a big role in being someone’s strength to fight as hard as they can in what the believe in, even when the greater population feels the complete opposite on an issue. Like in Siddhartha, everyone has different paths, and deciding on the right path is up to the person taking it.

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