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"Why mess around with Catholicism when you can have your own customized religion?"
Fed up with his parents' boring old religion, agnostic-going-on-atheist Jason Bock invents a new god -- the town's water tower. He recruits an unlikely group of worshippers: his snail-farming best friend, Shin, cute-as-a-button (whatever that means) Magda Price, and the violent and unpredictable Henry Stagg. As their religion grows, it takes on a life of its own. While Jason struggles to keep the faith pure, Shin obsesses over writing their bible, and the explosive Henry schemes to make the new faith even more exciting -- and dangerous.
When the Chutengodians hold their first ceremony high atop the dome of the water tower, things quickly go from merely dangerous to terrifying and deadly. Jason soon realizes that inventing a religion is a lot easier than controlling it, but control it he must, before his creation destroys both his friends and himself.
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on
ISBN: 9781439107430
List price: $8.99
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Ever questioned the religion your parents raised you in? Jason Bock is a teen who is tired of his religion and one day on a whim decides to invent his own. He chooses the town's water tower as his "god" and names it "The Ten-Legged One." He recruits a couple of friends, a girl he has a crush on, and a guy who once beat him up. It's all a harmless joke until the religion starts to take on a life of its own, in a heart-pounding scene that takes place on top of the tower. It's a story that makes you think about the way religions affect people, but it also made me laugh out loud quite a lot. Jason Bock is one wisecracking guy I would have liked to meet in high school.more
I love this book. It is short, funny, and makes one think about religion in a non-threatening way. I highly recommend this one for teenage boys (and girls).more
I read this book, because I had noticed that others had enjoyed it and it had won the National Book Award, also. I decided to buy it for my granddaughter, who is a ninth grader in high school and has been thinking a lot about religion after attending and visiting a few different churches over the years with close friends. She and her mom have discussed some of the ways people think about things and live their lives based on what they (or their parents) believe in. I did enjoy it myself, although it didn't have the charge for me that I thought it would. The young man who was the primary character decides to make the local water tower into *-od* and many of his friends over time listen to him and collectively and on their on take on various levels of commitment to this made-up religion of their friend. Most of the high jinks that occur are gut wrenching for parents to imagine, but, pretty believable from the standpoint of the teens involved in climbing the water tower and messing around, including a swim in the tank of the tower. The book deals with the aftermath of this escapade and the responsibilities meted out to the participants by the law and by their parents. Less this appear to be a story primarily about teens getting in trouble and experiencing the consequences of their actions, I would remind you that this was the result of the beliefs of the group in the new religion and the tenants of the religion. It lets young adults, teens and other readers think outside the box of their own religion and the religion of their parents. It also gives the reader an opportunity to think about how religion(s) came to be and how each group of human beings has an idea of what and who the being of *-od* is for them and how religions are built up around that belief. I would recommend this to anyone interested in the subject matter of this book. A teacher might us this book as a text in an English course for a topic of a paper written by the students, if not a classroom discussion which for some school guidelines might not be appropriate or acceptable. This book might be difficult for those who practice the Catholic faith and others who have an established religious practice that is meaningful to them. Please remember that this young man invents this religion and this *-od* for himself and his friends as somewhat of a joke.more
Jason in defiance of his conservative Catholic up-bringing creates his own religion: the town's water tower as god. Intellectual discussion re: creed, beliefs, practices (commandment #1: Don't be a wuss) is balanced by the action of climbing (and entering!) the god (water tower). Trouble ensues. Anti-religion, anti-Catholic content will make this book offensive for some which is too bad as it challenges, not disputes, faith.more
Godless begins with an intriguing premise. Jay, the 15-year-old protagonist, is unsatisfied by his parents' rigid Catholicism, so he decides to create his own, nonsensical religion with the town water tower as the central deity. Soon he has recruited an odd band of followers, including his nerdy best friend Shin, the town bully Henry, a preacher's kid named Dan, and a cute girl from his church group. For a week or two, the group has fun inventing commandments and rituals, but the story takes a more serious turn when they take a dangerous climb to the top of the water tower.I wanted to like this book very, very badly but left it with only lukewarm feelings. Although the premise is fascinating, the author didn't really know what to do with it. The result is a slow-paced narrative whose characterization sometimes strains credibility. Jay, the narrator, felt dull, and his friend Dan was nothing more than a puppet to round out the plot. Both female characters were consigned to hand-wringing and emotional instability, a pet peeve of mine. More seriously, Shin seemed to have a serious mental health issue that the author declined to confront. By the end of the book, I found the story as hollow and unsatisfying as the narrator found his original faith.more
Great read! The narrator has a strong voice, funny and realistically teen, self-aware and intelligent. I particularly like the way his voice lapses easily into fantasy versions of reality (my brain still does that). The plot was believable and authentic. I know quite a few people who invented their own religion during their teen years; it is such a great example of the endless process of building your identity that becomes so important during adolescence. Which all sounds very heady, but this is also just really fun. You like the characters. They seem like people you know. There's just enough excitement to keep things interesting but grounded in reality. The only quibble I have with this one (and it probably isn't the author's doing) is that the back cover description makes it sound more like a fantasy novel than a coming-of-age story and I'm a big fan of truth in advertising.more
Interesting read about a teen boy who creates his own religion but it backfires. Slow at times but it really makes you think.more
A weird book for me. The story is realistic, but it's slow-moving and unremarkable.more
Hautman's book is in the same tradition as Chris Cutcher, Robert Cormier, Laurie Halse Anderson, and E.L. Konigsburg (amongst others). While the superficial subject of the book is religion and the creation thereof, it's really all about growing up and learning to navigate the world without losing oneself. It does this through the plot of Jason Bock's experiment with religion creation and the effect it has on his friends.One of the nice aspects of the novel is that although it raises doubts about the validity of organized religion - especially modern religions such as Scientology or Mormonism - it does not ultimately suggest that everyone should become atheist or agnostic. Rather, though the main character is an agnostic throughout, other characters are religious without condemnation.Even though the novel doesn't condemn religiousity, it does ask the reader to think critically about faith and religion through the creation of Chutengodianism by the main characters. If Jason created this religion as a joke, knowing full well that the water tower is not actually a god, then who is to say that other religions weren't created the same way? But even while the novel asks this question, it shows how the water tower is a god of sorts (it provides all the water for the community, which allows them to live, for example) and students of mythology will recognize that this line of thought is how other gods have been created - think of Apsu and Tiamat, Gaea and Ouranos, or Ra and Nu.The novel's religious theme asks the reader to recognize that religions are man-made, fallible things. Yet they are powerful, too, as Shin's obsession with Chutengodianism causes him to place himself in danger. Even so, it does not deny that many people derive comfort from their faiths, nor that there is a place for religion in societies, no matter how they came about. It is a mixed-bag sort of ending, providing support for both theism and atheism.Probably the take-away message of the book is to not take everything at face value. Just as religions are exposed as having shady origins (compared to how they're touted by the faithful), Jason learns that people, too, are not always as they seem on the surface. Henry Stagg, for example, is a science-fiction fan and someone Jason discovers he could be great friends with, despite having previously thought Henry to be no more than an ignorant thug type.I can't say that this is a book I would recommend to just any teenager, because I know that many would scoff at the title and the plot and not read closely enough to recognise the life lessons it has inside. But I think it's as good as any other for those people struggling with what it means to believe in the modern era, and could be a comfort for them.more
The imaginative concept of this book caught my eye and I have to say it fulfilled its promise. The characters rang true for the most part, with nobody really being either all good or all bad, including the protagonist. It got a little preachy at times, but I guess that's to be expected considering the subject matter.more
Jason Bock goes on a spiritual journey, founding his own religion, based on having fun and worshipping local landmark, much to the horror of his family and the local youth group leader. He finds new avenues and new ways to look at the people around him. I found this fascinating as a commentary on the lack of logic in religion. Jason ultimately finds that he can not control everything and things spin out of control leaving him to face the consequences.more
Interesting story. The protaganist doesn't believe in anything, not even himself. My thoughts after reading this was that in order to believe in greater or higher power you also have to believe in yourself which then leads you to believe in others. Questioning faith is not a problem, I think it's necessary, but you have to have faith in something. He had no faith at all and apparently doesn't really want to, which is pretty sad.more
Read all 18 reviews

Reviews

Ever questioned the religion your parents raised you in? Jason Bock is a teen who is tired of his religion and one day on a whim decides to invent his own. He chooses the town's water tower as his "god" and names it "The Ten-Legged One." He recruits a couple of friends, a girl he has a crush on, and a guy who once beat him up. It's all a harmless joke until the religion starts to take on a life of its own, in a heart-pounding scene that takes place on top of the tower. It's a story that makes you think about the way religions affect people, but it also made me laugh out loud quite a lot. Jason Bock is one wisecracking guy I would have liked to meet in high school.more
I love this book. It is short, funny, and makes one think about religion in a non-threatening way. I highly recommend this one for teenage boys (and girls).more
I read this book, because I had noticed that others had enjoyed it and it had won the National Book Award, also. I decided to buy it for my granddaughter, who is a ninth grader in high school and has been thinking a lot about religion after attending and visiting a few different churches over the years with close friends. She and her mom have discussed some of the ways people think about things and live their lives based on what they (or their parents) believe in. I did enjoy it myself, although it didn't have the charge for me that I thought it would. The young man who was the primary character decides to make the local water tower into *-od* and many of his friends over time listen to him and collectively and on their on take on various levels of commitment to this made-up religion of their friend. Most of the high jinks that occur are gut wrenching for parents to imagine, but, pretty believable from the standpoint of the teens involved in climbing the water tower and messing around, including a swim in the tank of the tower. The book deals with the aftermath of this escapade and the responsibilities meted out to the participants by the law and by their parents. Less this appear to be a story primarily about teens getting in trouble and experiencing the consequences of their actions, I would remind you that this was the result of the beliefs of the group in the new religion and the tenants of the religion. It lets young adults, teens and other readers think outside the box of their own religion and the religion of their parents. It also gives the reader an opportunity to think about how religion(s) came to be and how each group of human beings has an idea of what and who the being of *-od* is for them and how religions are built up around that belief. I would recommend this to anyone interested in the subject matter of this book. A teacher might us this book as a text in an English course for a topic of a paper written by the students, if not a classroom discussion which for some school guidelines might not be appropriate or acceptable. This book might be difficult for those who practice the Catholic faith and others who have an established religious practice that is meaningful to them. Please remember that this young man invents this religion and this *-od* for himself and his friends as somewhat of a joke.more
Jason in defiance of his conservative Catholic up-bringing creates his own religion: the town's water tower as god. Intellectual discussion re: creed, beliefs, practices (commandment #1: Don't be a wuss) is balanced by the action of climbing (and entering!) the god (water tower). Trouble ensues. Anti-religion, anti-Catholic content will make this book offensive for some which is too bad as it challenges, not disputes, faith.more
Godless begins with an intriguing premise. Jay, the 15-year-old protagonist, is unsatisfied by his parents' rigid Catholicism, so he decides to create his own, nonsensical religion with the town water tower as the central deity. Soon he has recruited an odd band of followers, including his nerdy best friend Shin, the town bully Henry, a preacher's kid named Dan, and a cute girl from his church group. For a week or two, the group has fun inventing commandments and rituals, but the story takes a more serious turn when they take a dangerous climb to the top of the water tower.I wanted to like this book very, very badly but left it with only lukewarm feelings. Although the premise is fascinating, the author didn't really know what to do with it. The result is a slow-paced narrative whose characterization sometimes strains credibility. Jay, the narrator, felt dull, and his friend Dan was nothing more than a puppet to round out the plot. Both female characters were consigned to hand-wringing and emotional instability, a pet peeve of mine. More seriously, Shin seemed to have a serious mental health issue that the author declined to confront. By the end of the book, I found the story as hollow and unsatisfying as the narrator found his original faith.more
Great read! The narrator has a strong voice, funny and realistically teen, self-aware and intelligent. I particularly like the way his voice lapses easily into fantasy versions of reality (my brain still does that). The plot was believable and authentic. I know quite a few people who invented their own religion during their teen years; it is such a great example of the endless process of building your identity that becomes so important during adolescence. Which all sounds very heady, but this is also just really fun. You like the characters. They seem like people you know. There's just enough excitement to keep things interesting but grounded in reality. The only quibble I have with this one (and it probably isn't the author's doing) is that the back cover description makes it sound more like a fantasy novel than a coming-of-age story and I'm a big fan of truth in advertising.more
Interesting read about a teen boy who creates his own religion but it backfires. Slow at times but it really makes you think.more
A weird book for me. The story is realistic, but it's slow-moving and unremarkable.more
Hautman's book is in the same tradition as Chris Cutcher, Robert Cormier, Laurie Halse Anderson, and E.L. Konigsburg (amongst others). While the superficial subject of the book is religion and the creation thereof, it's really all about growing up and learning to navigate the world without losing oneself. It does this through the plot of Jason Bock's experiment with religion creation and the effect it has on his friends.One of the nice aspects of the novel is that although it raises doubts about the validity of organized religion - especially modern religions such as Scientology or Mormonism - it does not ultimately suggest that everyone should become atheist or agnostic. Rather, though the main character is an agnostic throughout, other characters are religious without condemnation.Even though the novel doesn't condemn religiousity, it does ask the reader to think critically about faith and religion through the creation of Chutengodianism by the main characters. If Jason created this religion as a joke, knowing full well that the water tower is not actually a god, then who is to say that other religions weren't created the same way? But even while the novel asks this question, it shows how the water tower is a god of sorts (it provides all the water for the community, which allows them to live, for example) and students of mythology will recognize that this line of thought is how other gods have been created - think of Apsu and Tiamat, Gaea and Ouranos, or Ra and Nu.The novel's religious theme asks the reader to recognize that religions are man-made, fallible things. Yet they are powerful, too, as Shin's obsession with Chutengodianism causes him to place himself in danger. Even so, it does not deny that many people derive comfort from their faiths, nor that there is a place for religion in societies, no matter how they came about. It is a mixed-bag sort of ending, providing support for both theism and atheism.Probably the take-away message of the book is to not take everything at face value. Just as religions are exposed as having shady origins (compared to how they're touted by the faithful), Jason learns that people, too, are not always as they seem on the surface. Henry Stagg, for example, is a science-fiction fan and someone Jason discovers he could be great friends with, despite having previously thought Henry to be no more than an ignorant thug type.I can't say that this is a book I would recommend to just any teenager, because I know that many would scoff at the title and the plot and not read closely enough to recognise the life lessons it has inside. But I think it's as good as any other for those people struggling with what it means to believe in the modern era, and could be a comfort for them.more
The imaginative concept of this book caught my eye and I have to say it fulfilled its promise. The characters rang true for the most part, with nobody really being either all good or all bad, including the protagonist. It got a little preachy at times, but I guess that's to be expected considering the subject matter.more
Jason Bock goes on a spiritual journey, founding his own religion, based on having fun and worshipping local landmark, much to the horror of his family and the local youth group leader. He finds new avenues and new ways to look at the people around him. I found this fascinating as a commentary on the lack of logic in religion. Jason ultimately finds that he can not control everything and things spin out of control leaving him to face the consequences.more
Interesting story. The protaganist doesn't believe in anything, not even himself. My thoughts after reading this was that in order to believe in greater or higher power you also have to believe in yourself which then leads you to believe in others. Questioning faith is not a problem, I think it's necessary, but you have to have faith in something. He had no faith at all and apparently doesn't really want to, which is pretty sad.more
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