God on Trial: A Short Fiction

God on Trial: A Short Fiction

by Sabri Bebawi

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Overview

For the main character of Sabri Bebawi God On Trial, each moment brings a torment of some kind. The character is extremely intelligent and yet disturbed by thoughts that never cease, as well as memories that evoke strong responses, eventually leading to a confusion of time and current reality. Indeed, as time progresses, the confusion grows worse; his reality rarely merges with truth. Paranoia and hallucinations take over his mind and thoughts, provoking dangerous responses on his part.
As this deterioration advances, his connection with his wife becomes tenuous in that she is not able to understand the dimensions of his personal reality. He may have little intellectual connection with his wife, but one portion of his thoughts remains largely coherent. In an attempt to gain some recompense for his suffering-and possibly to protect others from similar problems-he wishes to put God on trial. With little sleep or rest, he begins to gather the data needed for such a task even as his life begins to fall apart. His rage against God takes on new proportions as he develops the case; reviewing Holy Scripture, he in fact finds God culpable in the most heinous of crimes against humanity. The case envelops his imaginings, isolating him from those who care about him most.
This disturbed man is presented in Bebawi novel as a remarkably compassionate person who has experienced the worst of life in his various ailments. He is certainly representative of much of the reader's own private questionings of God and the trials that are faced by even the most innocent. Even in the midst of obvious hallucinations, he provides a lucid argument against God, definitely not the ravings of a madman.
And yet mental illness is one of his problems, the most prominent one during the action of the novel. Following his thoughts through various mental states, the writing in Bebawi book is chaotic but not confounding; it is more disconcerting in that the reader witnesses the suffering of such a kind and intelligent man in the midst of mania and delusion. Bebawi skillfully leads the reader through the meanderings of his mind and leaves the indelible impression of a man who did not deserve his fate. Too, the writing is obviously sympathetic toward those with mental illness without being condescending or overly dramatic in its representation.
By presenting the argument against God within the context of the thoughts of a mentally ill person, Bebawi may be providing a "safe" place for such discussion. Some may dismiss the case that the character is developing as that of delusion, and yet there are those in the novel who find it remarkable. Following the main character as he gathers his information from the various religious texts, the reader may make a similar conclusion. Or, if religious, he or she might simply find a common ground with this man in his suffering and the rage caused by it. Bebawi leaves such a decision up to the reader and his or her conscience.
This intricate story is so captivating with such vivid, detailed characters, that readers will fall in love with this book. Even within the space of a short novel, Sabri Bebawi is able to present difficult-and often private-questions of life, God, and reality in the harsh existence of a mentally ill man. Through smooth prose that expresses the man's desires, Bebawi provides the reader with not necessarily the answer to whether or not God is guilty of crimes against humanity, but rather the context in which to begin answering those questions. The fictional space of the book provides only the beginning of this discussion, and yet it is a powerful beginning

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491212035
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 11/08/2013
Pages: 214
Sales rank: 572,540
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.49(d)

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God on Trial: A Short Fiction 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Kiribear13 More than 1 year ago
God on Trial is written by Sabri Bebawi. It is mostly about a man going through a very painful and hard time in his life that has decided that God is to blame for all of the problems in the world and so he decides to put together a case to make God stand on trial, in absentia if required. The main character is an unnamed man who is going through some sort of delirium, likely dementia and/or schizophrenia. He goes back through his childhood (born in Egypt) currently residing in the US with his French wife. He relives certain events in his mind and meets with figures of his imagination to plan his case against God from a plethora of religions. The good aspects are that this is a very intriguing idea. The book is written in a very unique format with minimal names, and exploring life from the mind of a mad man which extremist views. The man could theoretical be many older gentleman. It is a nice quick short story. The negative aspects for me have a lot to do with the tone of the book. There is an obvious feeling of dissention against the US as a whole and definitely the military. The main character wants to lay blame on anything outside of himself and ultimately God. The book skips around a lot and can be confusing and hard to follow. I am not sure if this was done purposefully to try to show the madness in the man’s mind or not, but it took away from the flow of reading which constant start and stop. Overall I award the book with 3 stars. It was more exciting to read about than to actually read. The idea of the book is very intriguing and stands out, however the delivery was not as stellar as I would have liked. The constant jumping around without much cohesion made for spending a lot of time trying to figure out if you were reading about a past or current event. God on Trial does do an excellent job of painting the picture of a mad man though, and with some editing help this could come in a much prettier package. If you are into religion, spirituality, trials, fiction, mental illness, mystery, suspense, etc, than this book is for you. *I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.
MichaelBeas More than 1 year ago
Controversial yet compelling in a sweeping fashion that will absolutely engulf you and leave you wanting more. In short this is a short story of fiction that speaks to the harmful effects of schizophrenia on the brain. It is so powerful, as is the case with the main character that our Lord God was put on Trial for all of the pain and hurt caused every day on our planet earth.  How can “God on Trial” be best described? The characters are well developed the storyline is captivating and original. While I do not agree with some of the point mentioned in the book, I will say that some of the topics for discussion are on track and very believable. More oft then not I found myself going back and forth between the what is real and what is not. Simply put God on Trial is in call all on its own developed by a talented Author whose narrative is breathtaking.  As with all of my reviews the words that best describe this book are: Compelling, Intriguing, Powerful, Original, Enlightening, and in a class all on its own.  Author Sabri Bebawi gets 5 Stars for this amazing read! I truly hope a sequel is made soon as it left me wanting more of this Short Fiction Masterpiece. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recommend this exceptional book to all free thinkers.Many schizophrenics endure life-long episodes of paranoia, anguish, anger and guilt, as they attempt to reason and reconcile their conflicting thoughts about sex, nature, mankind, torture, slavery, violence, murder, famine, war, cruelty and many other kinds of suffering with god and religion. My own understanding of the terrible depths of this mental illness has been deepened and greatly enriched by reading this fascinating mystery novel by Dr. Sabri Bebawi. It’s superbly written by a courageous and truly gifted author. This is a tragic and important story that needed to be told to the entire so-called civilized world. I predict that, God on Trial will soon become an international best seller and classic.
EDL85 More than 1 year ago
Sabri Bebawi’s “God on Trial” is a short work of fiction about the life of a fifty-seven-year-old professor who is struggling with mental illness, which eventually leads him to fabricate in his mind an indictment against God and an obsession with bringing God to trial for His crimes against humanity. The protagonist, born in Egypt, had a childhood fraught with tragedy—though he had a loving mother, he was forced to study Islam and abused by older relatives. As an older man, he has a loving and devoted wife (a former student) but is still wracked by suffering brought on by his schizophrenia.   Though the cover looks like a run-of-the-mill self-help religious book, the inside of the text is nothing of the sort—in fact, it’s a sensitively written exploration of one man’s doubt and questioning of God that many will relate to, especially given how many religions use the various writings attributed to God’s word to incite violence, murder, and prejudice. Though it ends in tragedy for the protagonist, the book isn’t really long enough for you to grow much attachment to him—as a reader you are more an observer provoked to thoughtful examination rather than a participant moved to emotion. Regardless of that, “God on Trial” is well-written and I would recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction that also wrestles with larger universal themes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my review for the short novel, God on Trial by Sabri Bebawi. The opinions included are my own and were in no way influenced by anyone else. God on Trial is a very riveting story of a man and his descent into mental illness, specifically schizophrenia, and his decision to bring a lawsuit against God for crimes against humanity. The main character is a man of deteriorating health, both mental and physical, in his late 50's. He is nameless but not faceless. He has a very generic description that makes it easy for you to imagine him as a friend, relative or coworker. You can both sympathize and empathize with him. He is married to a woman he adores and has stayed by his side through all of his illnesses and takes care of him. She holds him through his seizures and does everything she can to make him comfortable and show that he's loved and cared for. He in return cares very deeply for her and is evident throughout the story. His life was not a pleasant one, especially in the beginning. He begins to blame God for much of his suffering and the suffering of mankind. He doesn't just limit his anger at one incarnation of God, but at the image of a vengeful and violent God. He begins to put together a brief that will bring God to trial in abesntia. He pulls out biblical verses that seem to support his claim that God has committed horrendous crimes against humanity and needs to be held accountable for those crimes. As he gathers the evidence he needs, his mind deteriorates. His life and health begin to fall apart. But even while you can tell that he is in the depths of a hallucination or in the grips of his schizophrenia, he is not ranting like a "typical" madman. His arguments are lucid and will resonate with anyone who has ever questioned the image of a vengeful God. The story is disturbing, throught-provoking, intelligent, compassionate, frightening and throughly enjoyable. The cover and the title intrigued me and I was hooked through the entire story. I was left with many questions and the story can definitely lead for some intersting discussions. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who has ever questioned God and human suffering. The author really leaves it up to the reader to make their own decision. While sympathetic toward the main character, the author doesn't claim that he is right or wrong...just that he has a valid argument. Then it's up to us to decide.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
“His mind raced like a baboon on steroids” That pretty much sums up “God on Trial.” In his dramatization of a schizophrenic’s quest to hold God accountable for all the sins of humanity, author Sabri Bebawi explores some of the questions that leave many individuals - religious or not - struggling to come to grips with the world as we know it. If God is omniscient and loving, how can he allow abuses such as the main character endured such as childhood sexual assault, as well as global injustice like war or slavery? Indeed, one may ask how God could allow something like mental health conditions such as schizophrenia. Interestingly to me, the author immediately jumps to the position that A) God does exist - for how can you put to trial someone who does not and has never existed, even if you have to try Him in absentia and B) He is ultimately responsible for all the ills of the world, although no mention of Him having a hand in anything good in the world is ever addressed. I think that the main character’s mental health issues may be a bit of a crutch in this instance, because if anyone genuinely pursues legal action, anticipating the defense is a crucial step, even if the suit is filed in the fictional “International Court of Justice.” While I found the schizoprenia an interesting part of the character’s development, because it was blatant from very early on in the novel it made a lot of things easy to dismiss, including some of the chaotic ramblings of the character and perhaps some of the writing depth. I think I would have preferred for that to be a revelation at the end, just after the reader convinces himself that perhaps he has a point about God. In addition, the character suffering the effects of undiagnosed schizophrenia in his late fifties is a bit of a jump for anyone who has ever interacted with the mental health setting, as schizophrenia is well known as an early-onset disease, usually being diagnosed during early 20’s and if left untreated a schizophrenic individual is more likely to end up living in a prison or mental health institution rather than independently. As interesting as the subject matter is, I found the argument presented in a rather confusing way. Some of this could be attributed to the main character’s mental state, but as stated before this can only be a crutch for so long. The character descriptions of his hallucinatory friends are just that, basic character descriptions that an author would use when fleshing out bits of the story. Rather than revealing their nuances during the story he gives a basic description at the character introduction like, “He is a typical commissioner or inspector detective.” I also found it distracting when the author jumped from several points of view that were not the character’s hallucinations - for instance at the end the story began to be told from the detective’s point of view rather than the main character’s. There are also a few little clues to the author struggling a bit with English, which is not Bebawi’s first language, such as the name “Savanna” being spelled two different ways, Savana at the beginning and Savanna at the end. That being said, knowing that it is not his first language he does a good job navigating the format of fiction. The premise of putting God on trial is an interesting one, however I’m not sure that this book fully fleshes it out. The idea of fictionalizing it makes it more approachable, setting it in the mind of schizophrenic gives the reader a safe but ultimately easily dismissed space to contemplate, and the fact that basically all the evidence presented was a few verses in the Torah, New Testament and Qur'an leaves the reader wondering what exactly was the point of the story - that the idea is only contemplated by those with mental health issues or that fictional trials actually can help resolve issues? In the end basically it seemed that the point of schizophrenia running in families was made rather than the idea of prosecuting God is a valid notion.
lizasarusrex More than 1 year ago
A Short Fiction I finished this book in one sitting, it was that interesting and engaging. It's a debatable subject, but the author makes it seem reasonable and feasible. The author clearly did a great deal of research making this book seem all that more creditable.   The main character suffers from a mental illness, schizophrenia. Just like the rest of us, he is questioning God and his word. Hence the title, God on Trial. Being schizophrenic seems like a lot emotional up's and down's, and always questioning what's real and not real. You'll be taken on a journey where what's real and not real, is not always apparent or obvious. Bouncing back and forth between the paranoia hallucinations, and what's perceived as reality, you'll get to know the main characters on a very personal level. I found this to be a very entertaining read that was extremely eye opening. The book is controversial in a great way, it makes you think. The cover is interesting and makes me curious as to what is contained inside the book. There were no spelling or grammar errors that I saw. I give this book 5/5.