The religious quest is not easy. Like John F. Kennedy who said about the quest to land a man on the moon, America pursued tasks not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Only the hard tasks are worth doing. Of course, the most intense terrors are the spiritual ones. As Ishmael said, “For what are the comprehensible terrors of man compared with the interlinked terrors and wonders of God.” The religious quest is indeed not for the faint of heart.
The question arises in Moby Dick whether Ahab, the captain of the voyage, the leader of the spiritual quest, was a Christian or not. Ishmael described the Captain this way in his quarters:
“Though nominally included in the census of Christendom, he was still alien to it. He lived in the world, as the last of the Grisly Bears lived in settled Missouri. And as when Spring and Summer had departed, that wild Logan of the woods, burying himself in the hollow of a tree, lived out the winter there, sucking his own paws; so, in his inclement, howling old age, Ahab’s soul, shut up in the caved trunk of his body, there fed upon the sullen paws of its gloom!’
This is hardly the comforting description of a Christian leader. If Ahab was a Christian leader on this religious quest, he was a very strange one.