The Devil’s Calling by Michael Kelley peers wistfully into the near future. It’s not a dystopian future, nor is it a utopian future. What is so refreshing about Kelley’s world is that it is so much like our own. There are hopeful and joyful elements. There are also perils and wise warnings. It is a world where AI and religion continue to develop, but not at the expense of the human. Technology neither threatens to annihilate humanity like Skynet in The Terminator, nor do the people eschew technology for a more transcendent life. The main character, Sean, is a writer and teacher. His wife, Emily (called M) is a teacher, public speaker, and wise and talented spiritual guide. Sean and M, with their children Juno and Dylan, live at their special school and in the community of other teachers and students. Their beliefs are a mix of various religions, and they live in all things in the pursuit and promotion of Big Love and what is called “constant creation.” But not everyone in the world is convinced that their teaching and lifestyle is the right path to human transcendency and peace! This is the second book in a series. I highly recommend it!
In The Devil’s Calling, Sean and M are pursuing a transcendent life that involves telepathy, various Eastern religious practices, and promoting Big Love. Kelley is touching on something that every human being longs for: something more than this world and this life. It’s in all our hearts to reach or grasp a goodness and a peace that is beyond ourselves. While many religions try to find this from within, it is impossible. What is unique about Kelley’s book is the intermixing of AI and other technology to develop the human psyche and inter-connectedness in the pursuit of this goodness and peace. Technology is not a threat in Kelley’s book (unless it falls in the wrong hands!), but a servant or companion that goes along with humanity on this journey. The book ends with the hope of transcendence beyond the physical. And yet the physical remains such a critical need for humanity, doesn’t it? I do find the intermixing of Christianity with all these other religions curious and interesting. It is surely a caricature of Christianity that is presented—Christianity is not merely following the morals and ethics of Jesus. Christianity is about a total-person transformation that God makes, and it is that transformation from the inside that results in ethical living. The Christian Bible teaches a transcendence that humanity really desires: resurrection of the body and the soul. There is that tension at the end of this book: is spiritual transcendence enough without the body? But I’m interested in reading the next book in the series.