Once, I was scared practically to death just attending a school friend’s Non-Denominational church and hearing people speak in tongues while running up and down the aisles. And while I don’t practice a certain religion or attend a church today, I do marvel at the beliefs that can shape our lives and culture. Whether it be Jesus on a potato chip or visions of Mother Mary on a hilltop in Kentucky, our faith is personal and yet complex, and certainly intriguing to a writer and reader like me which is why I think I enjoyed this book so much.
And Policastro has done a superb job of presenting the theories that baffle both scientists and christians. Absence of Faith is the deep struggle between good and evil, science and religion, believers and non. It asks what happens when our faith is tested, or even lost, and what happens to humankind with and without it.
Being coined a “thriller,” Policastro moves his book along at a magnificent pace that makes for a nice page-turner. There are numerous underdeveloped characters, but the central ones more key to the plot are given the right amount of focus. The book does suffer from being a bit “preachy” at times though; Policastro is determined to have the reader literally find the message (or be brow beaten by it) in scripture and sermon, but overall it didn’t distract too much from the main point of the book. If it had, I would have certainly stopped reading after about 50 pages. And if anything, there is a message there at how sometimes one’s beliefs can be forced upon us when we don’t always agree.
Those strong in their faith may want to avoid this one unless you do have an open mind and can appreciate a good read that will explore and challenge the complicated outer limits of religion. Part Crichton’s Outbreak, part LeHaye’s Left Behind, and even some of King’s smalltown Salem’s Lot thrown in, be prepared to stay up late at night reading this one, and being haunted by it long after the last page.