Study Guide

A Million Little Pieces Religion

By James Frey

Religion

My sins are unpardonable.

I stare at the question.

My sins are unpardonable.

I leave it blank. (1.5.209-1.5.212)

This is the first we see of James's doubts about religion. We're not sure at this point if he leaves it blank because he objects to religion in general, or because he's not sure if his sins are unpardonable or not. 

Replacement of a chemical for a God and a Meeting. (1.8.11)

James mainly seems to object to the religious aspect of AA. Okay… he objects to pretty much all of it, but he tends to focus on the God part a lot. 

The Lecture starts. It is about Letting Go and Letting God. […] His God has become his drug and he is high as a Motherf***ing kite, and he rants and raves, paces back and forth, God this and God that, blah blah blah. (1.8.157)

James is adamantly opposed to any show of religious faith. We have to wonder if this guy is really "ranting and raving" as James says he is, or if he's just talking openly about his faith.

F*** God. (2.2.380)

Welp. Do we really need to say any more about <em>this </em>line? This is part of James's stream-of-consciousness rant. The only other entity he is this mad at is the mysterious "her," the girl he used to be in love with. Is God a stand-in for authority in general? Authority times infinity? Is this why James has such a problem with God, or is it more complicated than that?

There is a publication classification in an upper corner. It reads Religion. I am immediately skeptical. (2.3.381)

Hey, you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Ahem. Anyway, just because this one has "religion" on the cover doesn't mean the book has nothing valuable to say. James gives the <em>Tao Te Ching </em>a shot (also a "religious" text, though it's not about "God"), and he's glad he did, so maybe it's Christianity he specifically has a problem with. Why would that be?

God, in our Society, is a man with a long flowing beard who sits on a chair in Heaven. You don't have to believe in that. A Higher Power can by anything you would like it to be or anything that gets you through the day. (3.1.73)

Joanne often tries to get James to follow the Twelve-Step program, but maybe James just has a problem with belief in general. If he can't see it and can't touch it, then it doesn't exist. 

Things die and they return. Is that biology or God or something Higher. Are we biology or God or something Higher. (3.1.207)

James doesn't use question marks here, which makes us hesitate to ask the question whether he's questioning his beliefs. Maybe he's just admitting that yes, we are biology, or God, or something Higher. Admitting this makes him calm.

Except for the God part, it sounds fine. (4.1.170)

Even though James is pretty much agreeing to make a confession to a priest so that he can be absolved of his sins (those same sins that may/may not be unpardonable), he wants to leave God out of it. Does this guy just make things up as he goes along?

I don't believe in God, Sir.

Then it will be between you and me. (4.3.102)

The priest is pretty much here just to serve as an earpiece for James to spill his guts to. This is less about religion and more just about coming clean to someone. Anyone. And maybe spilling his guts to a real person instead of to an invisible God is more beneficial to James. 

I spread his legs. I spread them so I could kick him and I did. I kicked him about fifteen times as hard as I f***ing could. (4.3.131)

James beats a priest he says touched him inappropriately. Is this why James hates God so much, or is James taking out his anger toward God on someone who is a representative of the God James doesn't believe in?

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