The Monster Upstairs, by J.M. Green

On August 29th, 1984, Austrian Josef Fritzl drugged his eighteen- year-old daughter Elisabeth and imprisoned her in a secret dungeon beneath his home. Over the next twenty-four years, he physically and sexually abused her. Repeated rapes resulted in one miscarriage and the birth of seven children. The details of this nightmarish and horrific story can be read here. The indomitable human spirit and will to survive, under the most extreme circumstances is truly amazing. When one of her daughters became ill and had to be hospitalized, Elisabeth managed to convince her father to allow her out of her subterranean prison. Shortly thereafter, the truth was uncovered and Josef was arrested.

When two of Elisabeth’s sons were rescued from their underground prison, they thought they were in heaven because their mother had told them that ‘heaven is up there’. When Felix, who was five years old, saw the moon and asked “Is that God up there?”

I have no idea of what Elisabeth’s religious beliefs are, but she obviously taught her children about God and heaven. I have to imagine that this girl who broke her fingernails and clawed away her skin trying to escape from her chamber of horror also pounded her metaphorical fists bloody, knocking on heaven’s door, begging God for help. Twenty-four interminable years of desperate, unanswered prayers.

The silence of God in the face of her torture is both chilling and telling. No intervention, as she was held down and raped over and over. No help given, as her skin grew pale from the absence of sunlight and her teeth rotted from poor nutrition. No miracle was manifested as she was impregnated repeatedly by her father in that dark, claustrophobic prison. No compassionate help from above as she raised her children in these horrific circumstances.

Christian apologists will shamefacedly mumble about free will and the fallen nature of humans. Acting as defense attorneys for the callous, neglectful God they serve, they attempt to have him acquitted on technicalities. These excuses must ring hollow, even to the most devout defenders of Christianity. If a loving, powerful God exists, and ever intervenes in human affairs, then he damns himself each time he fails to do so when help is most desperately needed. Turning water to wine seems frivolous and insulting in the light of human suffering. A Bible riddled with miracle stories is revealed as fiction when juxtaposed with the conspicuous absence of any divine activity in the direst of circumstances.

There were numerous ways a loving God could have prevented or ended the decades of horror playing out under the Fritzl home. A stroke or a fall could have incapacitated Josef on the day that he lured his daughter to the basement. A persistent suspicious thought in the mind of his wife, a neighbor, or a policeman investigating the daughter’s disappearance could have led to an early discovery and release for Elisabeth. Perhaps an angel like the one mentioned in the book of Acts, who purportedly released the apostle Peter from prison could have been dispatched on behalf of this abused girl.

But no help came. Heaven was silent, and that silence was deafening.

I am left with no choice but to deny the existence of God. The alternative is unthinkable. As much of a monster the man upstairs - Josef Fritzl - was, a god who would allow Fritzl to carry out his dark deeds unchecked is even more monstrous still!

Written by J.M. Green for DC.