The Policeman as a Priest

[Daniel Sur, God’s Policeman, Ideea Europeană, Bucharest, 2012]
(from atheism to agnosticism and back) [V]

by Ştefan Bolea
translation from Romanian by Raisa Lambru [MTTLC student]
click aici pentru versiunea română

“Come on, take the money or else I’m putting you behind the bars.”
The child replies to me: “Are you a cop? Then I don’t want your money. I don’t take money from people who are lower than me.”



1.   The job as a police policeman is one of the most despised ones. When you think about “corruption”, you immediately think of politicians and policemen. The violence of the state, the right-wing violence, is again the privilege of the police. When you think of “abuse”, you immediately picture the jaws of a policeman. To add to what Orwell said, we could say that the “cop” is a mix between a pig and a pit-bull!

2.   In order to write about the police, you must have right-wing, slightly fascist morals: “I feel my heart is warm, proud and cruel towards the weak ones. I can’t help it. I hate the peasants, the poor and the beggars.” (123) Therefore, we’re dealing with an anti-anarchist point of view, if I can express myself through a double negation. It can also be a neo-Nietzschean one, if we think of Herdenmoral from On the Genealogy of Morality. As I’ve said before, there’s also a bit of vernacular fascism: now we’re talking about using a capital letter when writing Captain, who is probably the main character of the book, who reminds us of that “friend” from Cioran’s youth, Codreanu.

3.   Here are four of the reasons why we despise, par défaut, the policemen (willpower, being argyrophilic, abuse, corruption):

“All policemen dream to fearlessly beat up their clients…

All policemen dream to get bribes…

All policemen dream to get a job they don’t deserve…

All policemen dream of betrayals and win…” (29)

4.   The novel is written with a particular delicacy which reminds us of the fact that its creator started as a poet: “Oblivion hadn’t managed to expand its delicate crust over the memory of the last events, in the same way the skin expands over boiled milk.” (47) Also, we shouldn’t forget that Sur got attention as a philosopher, having penned some great articles in the pages of this magazine (, Let us reflect a bit upon this idea, which postulates hate as epistemology: “You can’t get to a man whom you don’t hate. The more you hate him, the better you understand him.” (91)

5.         The most powerful idea of the novel is by far the association between the police and priesthood: the policemen are being spiritualized, they trench upon the privileges and duties of priesthood. This parallel is (shyly) drafted from the very beginning of the novel: “My name is Gigu and I’m a policeman. My mother thinks that’s my destiny, to be a policeman, and that, although everything seems to be against me (emphasis mine), God feels compassion for me and shall help me.” (7) He’s a kind of “alone against the world (but with God by my side)” person. Doesn’t this approach belong to people who break away from the world, who choose solitude? “No ethical, geographical or cultural difference can annihilate the grand difference between living with the world and living with God” (Nicolae Turcan).

6.   It’s impossible for the analogy between policemen and priests not to be blasphemous. There are characters like Dumitru Dumnezeu (God) the beggar, who shouts: “I take care of you all… Even you, the policemen!” Furthermore, while in a trance, the Captain seems to be able to romantically connect Nietzsche and Baudelaire, or “God died” and “I am Satan”: “I dreamed of the Captain dressed as a beggar, having not shaved in months, shouting curses and summoning spirits… ‘God isn’t the most powerful one’, he shouted. ‘He was once, a long time ago, but now he’s nothing but a wreck. There were some times which were perfect for him, like when my grandparent’s grandparent was a young boy. Now he lives in misery. Sooner or later, someone will take his place. Maybe that’ll even be me. God isn’t the most powerful one anymore.’” (123-124).

7.         To support this claim, of the link between policemen and priests, I need to mention the essential discourse of the book (which was held, of course, by the Captain), to the possible center of the novel: “So, I think that what we see in movies is nothing compared to our lives. And we’ve got everything: we love, we get a divorce, we get drunk a bit, we fuck a bit, we sometimes get it in the neck, we make kids and, from time to time, we get killed. This is what happens to all the heroes in the movies. Just that we’re unfairly despised. (emphasis mine). Just like the Jews despised Jesus. That’s why the tears of a policeman are like drops of sacred blood. They’re shed in order to save the world. In the end, the world will discover the truth we already know: we are His soldiers, not His popes. Just like Jesus, the policeman doesn’t hide himself inside a church, but can be found where the civilian needs him. Let me go back and show you that it’s wrong to say a movie with cops is an action movie, as it is a religious one!” (138) Therefore, we come to understand that the policeman (according to Sur) is more than just a priest, he is also a super-human, the guardian in Plato’s Republic and knight of the Order of the Assassins. The tears of a policeman are Graal… The policeman, just like Jesus, is on the road, ready to sacrifice himself… The police station is the church, and jail, hell… God’s policeman is God.

8.   At the end, let me highlight a few weak parts of the book. The book is a fake raving thriller, which (almost completely) lacks action. Gicu as a character is too solipsistic, we discover more about his inner existence than about his In-der-Welt-Sein. Gicu is a poet who is incapable of creating a plot. It would have been a lot more interesting if the action was set on two plans, so that the Captain (a true Mephistoteles) could have been improved as a character, as he is the most interesting one. If it weren’t for the Gigu-Lidia-Captain love triangle, which only takes up 20% of the book’s “movie”, we could say about God’s Policeman what has been said about Huysmans’s work of art: that it is “a novel without a plot”.

The Policeman as a Priest

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