It's very odd. No, not this book, I'm speaking of the reviews I'm reading about it here.
I must say that I find very little humor in Towing Jehovah--or at least not the guffaw kind of humor. Read Stephen Fry for that. No, James Morrow has woven a thoughtful and provocative tale around a most improbable premise (the physical demise of God Almighty). And yet I also find little sacrilege in this, unless perhaps you are endeared with the notion that the Catholic Church is not very much like any other human institution, seeking to perpetuate its own dogma and ideology. Also, I must confess to finding little real satire here, too. Yes, there are the inevitable, and quite brilliantly done, jabs at the foibles of modern man and the society we have built--and especially at the diet we choose to eat--but these jabs are not delivered so as to ridicule or demean. There is no sense that Morrow wants us to join him in holding ourselves aloof from the rest of humanity in snobbish repose and declare solemnly "We are so much better than all that." Read Douglas Adams for that. What I did find was an intellectual, though never daunting work that displays a profound understanding of--and sympathy for--Man at the turn of this century. We may smirk at the idea that the best chef in the Merchant Marines is classified as such not because he prepares gourmet meals, but because he is capable of producing exact replicas of the world's leading fast food (no matter what the meat source). But doesn't that say an awful lot about us and our society? In Morrow's gifted hands it does. Morrow's intent seems less to ridicule Man and his institutions than it does to express faith in our inherent moral fiber. It's less a blaspheme against God of the Old Testament than it is a praise of Emmanuel Kant. In killing off God, and in writing the Jesuit physicist's final deduction of why God has died, Morrow is suggesting a humanist future for Mankind, a future in which we have passed by the need for a governing deity, grown to maturity and cast away the bonds that tie us to our Heavenly Father. Or rather, God has cast aside the bonds for us. If you love someone, let them go. This is not sacrilege, but a kind of theocratic Darwinism. Oh, there now, I went and said that awful name didn't I. Okay, maybe it IS sacrilege. Towing Jehovah: an intelligent and well written tale that DOES make sense no matter what else you read here about it.
P.S. Contrary to at least one opinion, I found most of the characters very 3 dimensional. Any author who can take a character like Anthony Van Horne (gruff old sea dog with a penchant for wearing mirrored sunglasses, a down parka and John Deere hat, and who keeps his ships log in a Popeye the Sailor notebook) and make them not only interesting, but believable and compelling deserves respect and admiration. Morrow did, and does.