COLUMN: Man’s destructive direction not wise

One of the best books I’ve read, if not one of the weirdest, is Canadian Timothy Findley’s Not Wanted on the Voyage.

One of the best books I’ve read, if not one of the weirdest, is Canadian Timothy Findley’s Not Wanted on the Voyage.

It’s a post-modern version of the Great Flood from the Book of Genesis, filled with characters all operating at various levels of dysfunction, mistrust and hatred.

The key character is Noah Noyes, a doctor, whose wife, Mrs. Noyes, is an alcoholic who talks to animals, most notably her 20-year-old blind cat Mottyl.

One day, Yaweh, the God of Israel and Noah’s friend, approaches Noah depressed and ready to take his own life. He’s bummed at the way humanity has treated him – they had already killed him seven times, with each resurrection taking more and more effort, and on his way to see Noah, people threw rotten fruit and feces at his carriage.

To cheer him up, Noah shows Yaweh a magic trick, which includes putting a penny under a glass bottle then filling the bottle with water. Due to the refraction, the penny disappears. Yaweh thinks about that – water can make things disappear.

He tells Noah to build an ark, gather all of the Earth’s animals two-by-two, and get ready for a great cleansing, so Noah does.

God wanted to die, and take humanity with him.

The rains come and it’s time to board the ark. Unfortunately, Noah takes Yaweh’s instructions without compromise, and informs Mrs. Noyes that Mottyl will not be joining them as two perfectly healthy cats have already been selected. Mrs. Noyes objects, and Noah tries to solve the problem by unsuccessfully burning down their barn with Mottyl in it. He fails and Mrs. Noyes is not impressed.

The tone for the voyage is set.

On board with Noah and Mrs. Noyes are their three sons, Shem, Japeth and Ham. Shem is married to Hannah, and Japeth is married to 12-year-old Emma. Ham marries Lucy quickly before the floods arrive and in his haste, fails to realize he wed Lucifer in drag.

Needless to say, the motley crew is off to a rocky start and things get worse as the voyage goes on. Murders, questionable sexual conduct, concerns over food, the slaughter of dolphins who Noah believed to be pirates, all transpire on the boat, with people doing horrendous things to each other.

Eventually, Mrs. Noyes, Lucy, Emma and Ham decide to rebel against the others, and end up getting locked below decks.

Noah draws a line, forcing the rebels to perform all of the daily chores on the boat, while he and his allies live a life of relative luxury above deck.

All the while, the Great Flood is eradicating the rest of humanity and all other living things.

It is an extraordinarily tale told quite simply, and like the biblical story it retells, holds true today more than ever.

As humans we bicker, destroy, murder, betray, pillage and exploit as the natural world observes in silence and without judgment, even as we plunder the very things we claim to hold dear.

We claim to be stewards of the Earth, but evidence continues to pile up that perhaps we are fooling ourselves, even when we know better. The world could be (indeed, some days it feels like it is) falling apart at the seams, and we’d still be doing horrible things to each other, innocent animals and the natural environment we rely on.

With climate change, overpopulation, looming economic and energy crisis, unrest in the Middle East, an increase in devastating earthquakes, mistreatment of animals and a plethora of other challenges we face, it might be wise to, well, wisen up and perhaps set a less destructive course.


Because when Matthew announced the eight beautitudes during his Sermon on the Mount, he claimed the fifth beautitude are the meek, who shall inherit the Earth. He never said the meek were human.

Just Posted

Nanaimo Timbermen in five-way tie for first place

Senior A lacrosse team has a home game Saturday, July 20

Nanaimo Ladysmith education support workers reach tentative three-year deal

Union membership to vote on collective agreement on July 31

Advocates for now-closed Nanaimo soup kitchen ask for city’s help

Wisteria Community Association’s Stone Soup shut down following eviction of owners this week

15-year-old with imitation gun caused ‘dynamic’ scene at Nanaimo mall last night

No one was harmed in Monday’s incident, say Nanaimo RCMP

Nanaimo Marine Festival honouring tubbing’s ‘mom’

Longtime volunteer Margaret Johnson depicted on souvenir coins and named parade marshal

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Nanaimo mom says she will go to court to try to get allegedly abducted daughter back

Tasha Brown says her estranged wife abducted their daughter Kaydance Etchells in 2016

Dormant Chemainus Foods building to be revived with new market

Initiative expected to bring new life to the community’s downtown core

Local artist explores Nanaimo’s old Chinatown in new video installation

Charlotte Zhang among eight artists in Nanaimo Art Gallery’s ‘Estuary’ exhibition starting this week

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Three blocks of Bruce Avenue will be closed until fall

Work will include utility upgrades, new curbs and sidewalks and new on-street bike lanes

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Most Read