The Transmigration of Timothy Archer
ISBN: 0679734449

The last part of a trilogy (VALIS; the Divine Invasion). Book blurb: “… An anguished, learned, and very moving investigation of the paradoxes of belief.”

Philip K. Dick writes in a manner than convinces me that the protagonist is real. As in, the protagonist comes across as a very real character. In fact, all the characters seem convincing.

Timothy Archer is an Episcopal bishop. Apparently a well-known and respected one, though also known for his controversial views of church doctrines.

The book is told from the perspective of the Tim’s daughter-in-law, Angel Archer, ranging from the basis of Christianity to related philosophies. There is a find, which Tim suspects that could predate Jesus and worries that it would shake the foundation of the religion.

Through the characters and mostly through Angel’s thoughts, we are introduced to diverse subjects from religion to mental illness to Indian philosophy.

And in the end, the one person who appeared the most sane and rational, Angel, turns out to be also someone who has sort of deceived herself in how/ who she chooses to believe.

Early on, we are told of Tim’s death. The title alludes to how Tim appears to be ‘re-born’ (or Transmigrated, to be more exact) to Bill, who is Kirsten’s schizophrenic son.

It reminded me of Persig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, the kind of philosophical context surrounding the characters and their settings. E.g. The protagonist’s conversation with Bill (the schizophrenic son of Kisten — the woman having a relationship with the protagonist’s father-in-law).

a nice quote: P31. “… If you wish to conquer us, show us love not scorn. Faith moves mountains, love moves human hearts. The people opposing you are people, not things. Your enemy is not men but ignorant men. Don’t confuse the men with their ignorance.”