One of the first works we analyzed for homework, and in class was Ian Barbour's "Ways of Relating Science and Religion." This work talked about the four approaches to dealing with science and religion: Conflict, Independence, Dialogue, and Integration, some of which are represented in The Sparrow. The first one I picked up immediately is Integration. Jesuits are inherently in favor of integration, as demonstrated in Emilio, the Jesutit priest's interest in the Aribeco telescope. Integration is also present in Emilio's idea that the mission to Rakhat was to meet and learn to interact with "more of God's children," and the somewhat uncommon crew came together through God's selection and good will. Are any more of these lenses present? In what ways? Is integration present in any other circumstances?
Even larger, however, I believe is the way in which Russell's characters are made to find, question, and lose their faith throughout the novel. While this class was not intended to be a class in which we discover our personal faith, I believe each one of us would be lying if we did not incorporate personal belief and experience into our class contributions, and the challenging material we were given to read and analyze in class did not succeed in shaping or refining our own view of religion and what it means to be religious. In The Sparrow, there are characters that find their faith (like Anne Edwards,) and people who question their faith, and come close to losing it all together (Emilio Sandoz.) These characters are faced with incredibly taxing situations, both mentally and physically, that stretch the boundaries of what is and isn't conceivable by God's hand. Can you think of any instance, whether in class, for homework, or during research where sometime seemed so inconceivable, but could be proven in some way by God? I know when researching for my WPII, I was looking into the possibility for panic attacks to be controlled using belief in a higher power. While the case in my film was an exaggerated extreme, my research led to the conclusion that the perception of a slowed, controlled reality was in fact possible. Also, throughout the novel, Emilio admits to believing that the circumstances leading up to the arrival on Rakhat, and the events that took place there were determined by God. Has this book, or any other readings we went over in class, made you believe that events that may seem circumstantial can in fact be very targeted acts from a higher power?