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Archive for the ‘Fiction–Christian’ Category

I had a very good friend in college, I’ll call him “Joe”, who unexpectedly lost his sister to cancer.  One day she was a beautiful, athletic mother of two, and the next she was wasting away as cancer ate at her bones.  Up until that point, my friend was passionately serving the Lord.  He loved going to church and we would spend hours talking about God and His goodness.  After the loss of his dear sister, however, his heart began to harden; and though we his friends mourned with him, we were at a loss as to how to console him.  He immediately moved away and his last words to me were “I just want ‘Him’ to give me my sister back!”  Since that time, I’ve heard snippets about his life:  successful career in broadcasting for a major sports network, wonderful uncle to his nephews, and in a good relationship.  But then there is the dark side.  I have also heard rumors that he frequents strip joints and is hostile to those who would talk to him about God.  So, when I heard about William P. Young’s The Shack, I had hopes that it might be just the book for my friend Joe.  After all, it was supposed to speak words of comfort to those who have experienced great tragedy in their lives.  I was further impressed while reading the many accolades on the cover and opening pages, and those by many that I have admired through the years.  As I delved in, however, I was immediately struck by the controversial theology.  Although, The Shack should not be read as theology, it forces you to look hard at it.  The Shack speaks to the diverse views within mainstream evangelical theology today:  Reformed versus Armenianism, complementarianism versus egalitarianism, and other ism’s that divide the church.  One side hails the book as genius, while the other cautions it is “dangerous”.  I seem to be in neither crowd.  I definitely cannot recommend the book to non-Christians, as there is no scriptural backbone behind it; however, I cannot call it dangerous either, that is, not to studious people.  A book such as this can stir a debate that is both necessary and fruitful to have.  I am reminded of the Bereans who “continually searched the scriptures” to see if what was said to them was true.  This is the type of mind that should read The Shack.   

The Shack is about tragedy, and especially how tragedy affected one man, Mack’s, relationships with his family and ultimately with God.  One winter night, he receives a message from God inviting him back to the apex of his pain–a ramshackled shack in the wilderness where his daughter was murdered.  This is where God, in all three persons, meets him and heals him, literally turning winter to spring and melting the coldness of his heart.  Another friend once said to me, “It is amazing how God can always bring something so wonderful out of winter!” She is so right–this is in essence who God is, the one who is always melting the snows of winter just like Aslan did when he returned to Narnia.  W.P. Young is not, however, C.S. Lewis, and although I was intrigued by his creativity and audacity in writing a story about a man’s encounter with the Holy Trinity, his similarity with Lewis ends with the use of allegory. Where Lewis’s fiction would inform us that although God is love, He is also one to be feared, Young downplays God’s wrath.  Narnia fans will remember the words of Mr. Beaver in answer to whether Aslan is “safe”, “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “…Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” (Lewis, 80) When God reveals himself to Mack in The Shack , however, there is no fear, but simply bewilderment, amazement, and sometimes hilarity.  In all of scripture, I have never read of anyone in their encounter with God, doing anything but falling on their faces.  They even fell on their faces before His servants the angels.  Consider Job for a moment.  Who on earth has encountered more misfortune than him?  Yet, God did not coddle to his fear or give him a bunch of warm fuzzies to make him feel good about life.  God did not even give him an explanation of why these things happened to him.  He simply revealed Himself in all His glory and then asked Job hard questions like “Where were you…?” and “How?” and “Tell me if you know!”  Job’s response was adoration and holy fear and lastly repentance. 

The real tragedy in The Shack, is not the murder at the outset, but that opinion is elevated as scripture.  We are told to check our Sunday school knowledge at the door, while we listen to “God” speak to us through this book.  That is all well and good if God is actually the one speaking to us, however, I am quite sure that the voice from The Shack is actually that of Young himself, and of his clearly learned if not sometimes misguided opinion.  I have called these opinions “planks”, and will look at them one by one.  It should be obvious that I was not impressed with many of the planks; however, before I set about dismantling The Shack, I want to first tell you what I did like.  Young definitely elevates relationship, with God and with other people.  He emphasizes the love and mercy of God, grace and righteousness apart from the law, and simply how to walk with God.  Mercy is definitely at the forefront in The Shack, and  I have to think that this attribute does need to be emphasized in more Christian literature.  After all doesn’t God want “all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:4).  However, we must remember that the mercy and love that our heavenly Father poured out at the cross exists to save us from His own wrath.  Jesus bore God’s wrath.  We must not forget that.

Plank #1 God the Father appears to Mack as a jovial black woman.  “Papa” (the name for God the father in the book) explains to Mack that he has done this because of Mack’s emotional rejection of a father figure in his life.  Theologically, he defends himself by explaining that He is neither male nor female.  Of course critics are up in arms about this, but can’t God appear however he wants.  He may call himself “Our Father”, but he describes his love quite often as the love of a mother.  “As one whom His mother comforted, so will I comfort you.”  (Isaiah 66:13). I’ll leave this plank in place.

Plank #2  Critics have complained that God the father and the Holy Spirit never became human.  Again, I say, can’t He (God) do whatever He wants? This is fiction and specifically allegory, so I have no problem with the three becoming flesh for a weekend. 

Plank #3  All are God’s children and are special to Him.  I’m not a supporter of the Calvinistic view of “limited atonement”; however, scripture clearly does not support the argument that “we are all God’s children”.  In fact, until we are “born again” we are told that we are “children of the devil” (John 8:42) and  (I John 3:10), or “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).  Plank #3 has fallen down.

Plank #4 Young brings out his belief that there is no hierarchy within the trinity, and therefore there should be no hierarchy among human beings.  This is of course an egalitarian view, but he takes it a step further by insisting that the Godhead submits to human beings (Young, 145).  Now, depending on your view of submission, this is either acceptable or heresy.  Those considering it heresy would define submission as obedience to authority, while Young takes great pains (through God of course) to explain his view on submission as having nothing to do with authority, but rather an omniscient, omnipotent being purposely limiting Himself to man’s free will.  In other words, we have hit on the great sovereignty (God ordains, rules, and upholds all things) versus free-will (God allows evil and chaos, but does not ordain it) debate.  So, depending on which side you fall, this plank could stay or come down.  Personally, I have a problem with the language of “God submitting to us”, so in my book, plank #4 has hit the ground.

Plank #5  All roads lead to Jesus.  This is actually not a plank of the book; but comes from a critic of the book.  This critic apparently did not read the whole thing, because this is expressly taught against in The Shack . Mack asks Jesus if all roads lead to Him and He aptly replies, “No…but I will travel any road to find you.” (Young, 185)  Plank #5 is still solid.

If you read this book, and if you have any knowledge of scripture, you are going to discover more spiritual planks than these.  Some will be obvious, and others more obscure.  The important thing is, will it drive us to question our beliefs, changing them or solidifying them.  The Shack is nothing if not thought-provoking.  I have enjoyed it mainly for the debate it has stirred, the sermons it has prompted, and the truth it has caused me to unearth.  We must remember, however, that no book on earth has the power to convey ultimate truth to us, unless it is that sacred literature, which is “able to make us wise unto salvation”.  So, thus I cry with Luther “sola scriptura!”  What can help my friend Joe, then?  Well, I would hope that the God of the universe would confront Him, whether through His word, or personally, maybe sending him a note and calling him back to the school where his sister used to teach.  I happen to know, that on that day, Joe maybe laughing or crying, but he definitely won’t be standing.

References:

Young, William P., The Shack. Los Angeles: Windblown Media; 2007.

Lewis, C.S., The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, New York: Harper Collins; 1950.

Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Wheaton, 2003.

 

 

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“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with the pains of childbirth until now.”  Romans 8:22

C.S. Lewis cannot just write a piece of meaningless fiction.  His works are not the dimestore variety.  You know the kind of worthless trash that you want to just curl up with and not think about?  I have to admit that I was almost afraid when I picked up the first book in his Space Trilogy.  “Oh, no” I thought “what if I have to think, and much worse, what if I can’t understand it?  What if the depth of thought is so far over my head that I am reeling with the theological implications of it all?”  Then, as I got pulled into the story, I began to see strange and wonderful things, and then my mind became alive with possibilities.  My what if’s changed from being about me, to about creation and the human race.  “What if God created life on other planets, wouldn’t they (being part of creation) be affected by the fall of all creation?  And what if we could travel through space and time and view our world as those other creatures must view it, what might we think?  What would they think not only of us, but of the cosmic battle and redemptive plan by which Yahweh has inacted to restore all of creation?”  The questions and answers are mindboggling and numerous.  For one thing these creatures and worlds, would be  affected by our sins; however the creatures themselves, not being human, would not be “bent” or ruled by sin .  The rulers of their worlds would be amazed that their own God had condescended and subjected himself to save the very creatures that rebelled against him.  In fact, we are told that the angels in this world “desire to look into” these very things.  Thus has Lewis once again revealed his brilliance in developing a novel that is not only entertaining, but thought provoking. 

The story follows mild-mannered philologist, Dr. Elwin Ransom who is abducted by a couple of “mad” scientists while on a walking tour.  The next thing he knows is he is being heralded through space on a secretive mission that only his hosts are privy to, and they are hellbent on not revealing.  Ransom soon uncovers their motives and begins forming a plan of escape that may forever ruin is chances of returning to earth.  Seemingly alone, he must now learn to survive on the strange planet of Malacandra where he dare trust no one, and nothing is as it seems. Don’t expect Lewis’s science to be perfect.  He did, in fact, write this in the 1930’s where space travel was still relegated to the realm of science fiction, and little was known about the surrounding planets in our solar system.  Still, it is obvious that he writes from the point of view of an early scholar and though his knowledge of astronomy is limited, it does not detract from the valuable lessons of the story.  So, embark on a journey with Dr. Ransom to the beautiful and dangerous shores of Malacandra; but hurry, it is a dying world and won’t last long.  As for me, I am off to Perelandra, where I hope to entertain more questions and even have some of them answered.

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I am one of those who has often said “the movie is never as good as the book”.  It is impossible for screenwriters and directors, no matter how fantastic, to squeeze a 30+ hour book into a two hour movie.  For years, the attempts to capture imaginations on the screen were futile.  Hitchcock could never bring to life the elegant prose of Du Maurier and even in this modern age of special effects, something is inevitably left out that the discerning reader feels should be left in.  On the other hand, there are those movies that are infinitely better than their literary counterparts because they are much more exciting.  This, however, will offend many a book lover in the end.  Take the new release of Prince Caspian, the film version of the fourth book in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.  One DF was angered at the final product, while the other was moved completely to tears, as she watched one of her favorite places brought to life.  Both have read the book, and both have loved the books; but hold completely different views.  I’ve decided to take each of DF#1’s complaints one by one and see if they have any merit. 

DF#1 thought that the movie was very entertaining, but felt it deviated too much from the book.  Here are the reasons she listed.

#1 “There were things that never happened in the book, like that extra battle scene at the castle.”

#2 “Aslan was hardly in the movie.”

#3 “The love scene between Caspian and Susan never happened, and I don’t know why they had to throw that in there.”

#4 “What’s with this rivalry thing between Peter and Caspian?  Peter wasn’t like that at all.”

Okay, as to the first point, “there were things that never happened in the book”.  Prince Caspian, I believe, is the least action packed book of any of the series, and would have been impossible to make into an entertaining movie if extra scenes had not been added.  Let me give you a brief outline of the book.  (Caution:  if you haven’t read it, this could be a spoiler).  First there are several chapters on Caspian’s education by Dr. Cornelius.  There are at least two chapters where Caspian is being introduced to all the different creatures of Old Narnia.  They literally visit caves, hollows, trees, etc. and say “Hi” to everyone they meet and invite them to a great “war council”.  After the children arrive in Narnia several chapters are spent traipsing through the woods in search of Aslan’s How.  Which brings us to the next point:

“Aslan is hardly in the movie.”  Well, Aslan is hardly in the book, and that is pretty much the point.  I think the movie did a great job of capturing the main lesson of the book which was while everyone else was searching for a trail, a king, a battle, or a good future, Lucy was the only one looking for Aslan.  “Lucy woke out of the deepest sleep you can imagine, with the feeling that the voice she liked best in the world had been calling her name.”  He is as elusive in the book as he is in the movie.  In fact, in the book, he never enters the battle.  There are several chapters with Aslan, Susan, and Lucy performing some sort of parade in town after town with Bacchus (the god of wine and revelry) of all things.  I don’t know about you, but that is not quite as entertaining as meeting the army at the Bridge of Beruna and watching a river god lift the bridge out of the water.

Third point–the love scene between Susan and Caspian.  This did not bother me, because I saw it as a foreshadowing of Susan’s character.  In later books, there is a hint that Susan has become much more worldly, and is no longer a “friend of Narnia”.  In The Last Battle, Jill laments that Susan is only interested in “nylons and lipstick and invitations”.  In The Horse and His Boy, she nearly gets them all killed because she had entertained a suitor from Calormen.

The last point is one I find the most valid, and it has to do with the rivalry between Peter and Caspian.  That, in fact, was never even hinted at in the book.  Peter’s first words to Caspian were “I haven’t come to take your place, you know, but to put you into it.”  The egotistical competition that the movie brings out, was all Hollywood, and I guess added to the necessary conflict in the movie.

So, to sum up.  I believe the movie kept to the main point, which was “if you seek Aslan, you will find him”.  Lucy did that, and she pointed out to everyone that Aslan is the real hero that they should look too.  Oh, if we all were more like Lucy, the story may have a lot less tension; but do we really want real life to be a series of endless battles and losing our way in the woods?

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Have you ever looked back over your life and considered how God really does “cause all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called”? Or, have you ever considered how God allows the things He hates to bring about good in our lives?  Divorce, abandonment, car accidents, long-term sickness, miscarriage, etc. are just some of the things that believers face on a daily basis.  If you have been in those situations, can you look back and see the good, or are you struggling to try to make sense of the adversity we face this side of heaven?  Reading Francine River’s The Scarlet Thread, caused me to take a good, hard look at my own life, and find reason to be grateful for things I never imagined I could be grateful for. 

Sierra Madrid is discouraged at the direction her marriage and her life are taking.  After landing his dream job, her husband moves the family out to L.A. where fierce competition from other women and a realization that she doesn’t measure up to the other executives’ wives, leaves Sierra’s life spinning wildly out of her control.  Soon, however, through the timely gift of a journal, Sierra uncovers the fascinating life of one of her ancestors, Mary Kathryn Murray, a pioneer woman on the Oregon Trail whose life strangely parallels that of her own.  Both women discover how in spite of resistance, an unseen hand still moves and guides their lives and works all things for their good.  What I loved about this book was that it was refreshingly unpredictable.  I didn’t understand the significance of the scarlet thread or the antique quilt until the very end.  In fact, I kept asking myself, but what about this quilt, what does it mean?  Juxtaposed against a great story is a timeless message told only the way Francine Rivers can tell it.  A grand adventure, a little mystery, and of course a great romance placed this book on my “can’t put down” list.  Who knew, that the ties that bind us all together lie in the significance of one “scarlet thread”.  But then, if this statement leaves you with questions, buy the book.

If you’re interested in any other reviews of Ms. River’s books, check out “Christian Fiction” on this blog or Francine River’s site http://www.francinerivers.com/default.asp.

 

 

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Before I had even written the word “ilk”, I began to wonder if it was really a word or if it was merely some literary slang that I had come across in my reading somewhere and I was about to use incorrectly.  But, thanks to those great on-line dictionaries like Wikipedia, one never has an excuse to use a word incongruously, so I looked it up.  Wikipedia, informed me that “Ilk” was a village in eastern Hungary, and did not give me any other information.  I then proceeded to Merriam Webster on-line, which can be found at www.m-w.com and found that I was indeed using the word correctly.  Here is their definition:

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English ilcaITERATE, LIKE
chiefly Scottish : SAME — used with that especially in the names of landed families

So, I discovered that not only does the word mean “same” or “like”, but it is used with “that”.

Okay, enough of that.  I got back from the recent “Girls night out” that my DF Claire so diligently planned.  I actually got to go to the secondhand bookstore without my children.  I picked out around 10 books which I narrowed down to 3 while in the checkout line.  Yes, I am one of those individuals who leaves a cartful of unpurchased merchandise at the back of lines.  Call it “second chance items” for some lucky customers.  Anyway, I was so excited to get a hardback copy of Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone for only $5.00.  I already have a copy of this book, but it is a paperback copy, and a book of this caliber simply belongs in my library and paperbacks just won’t due.  At some point, I’d like to have some stacks (library slang for shelves) for paperbacks, although they would be relegated to the upstairs sitting room.  This room doesn’t exist at the moment, but when it does, there will be paperback “stacks” for my guests to peruse.  But I digress…The Moonstone is one of two books by Wilkie Collins that I have read, the other being The Lady in White, and I loved both of them.  Mr. Collins is known as the first and best author of modern English detective novels and The Moonstone is I feel the best work in this genre that I have ever read.  His stories are suspenseful, his characters intriguing, and the endings are totally unexpected–just what you would want from a good mystery novel.  This particular work has a touch of the far east which is so prevalent in much of English literature of this era.  The story revolves around the disappearance of a priceless gem, first from an Hindu deity and then from the young lady to whom it is given as a gift.  The book is told from the perspective of several different witnesses to the crime in the form of a series of narratives or depositions.  Mr. Collins greatness is seen in the way he takes on the persona of each character in describing the details of the events surrounding the gem’s disappearance. 

The other book of that “ilk” that I purchased that evening was The Best of Father Brown by G. K. Chesterson.  I have never read a Father Brown mystery before, but I am familiar with the BBC television series about the famous detective.  The first story in the book is called “The Secret of Father Brown”.  The editor placed it conspicuously at the beginning, as a sort of forward describing the way this particular detective solves his crimes, thus enabling the reader to have a better understanding of future stories.  I found this story interesting because Chesterson mixes his interest in religious philosophy into the crime-solving ability of his character.  Father Brown is of course a priest, so it makes sense that his understanding of criminology and his very methods would be described through the megaphone of religious philosophy.  This copy of Chesterson’s works was of course in paperback, so I will have to be on the lookout for a hardback copy.

 As I was taking my new copy of The Moonstone to my library shelves, a thought flashed before my mind.  I already have a hardback copy of this book.  In fact, it is a copy published in 1959, and in excellent condition.  Well, if that doesn’t show you how much I love this book, I don’t know what does.  So, I now have three copies on my shelf.  I think more that one copy of any book constitutes a real library, so if anyone would like to borrow one, let me know.  Just make sure you sign the checkout book at the back and have it back in three weeks or you’ll be fined a quarter a day. 

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redeeming1.jpg“Well, I’m done with the book.”  I announced to my DH.

“Good” he replied, much relieved.

 “I’m glad too” I agreed.

 It wasn’t that I didn’t like the book.  On the contrary, I loved it.  I couldn’t put it down, and that was the problem.  Have you ever seen those cartoons where the character puts toothpicks in his eyelids to keep them from shutting?  Well, that was me, laying on the couch at 1:00 pm in the morning, willing my eyes to stay open so I could at least finish “one more chapter”–you know how that goes.  It wasn’t just the physical energy that it took; but it took all my willpower throughout the day not to pick it up at every opportunity.  I thought about it almost constantly, so it is a blessing that I was able to read it in three days, otherwise my family would have sufferred. 

As I have said in previous posts, I am a Francine Rivers fan, through and through; but how I missed this one, I don’t know.  I received the book as a gift for Christmas and I naturally thought that it was a “new one”.  When I opened up the cover and saw the publishing date of 1997, I was shocked.  “I’ve been reading Rivers since ’96 and I missed this?  This is the best one yet!” 

Loosely based on the story of Hosea and Gomer from the bible, Francine Rivers sets her love story during the 19th Century California gold rush.  In her story, Ms. Rivers gives us the same thing God gives us in the book of Hosea, a view of God as a constant and faithful lover who pursues, woos, and wins the hearts of those who are opposed to and scorn His love.    Michael Hosea is a godly man who has waited all his life for the perfect wife.  Little does he know what God has in store for him in Angel.  He loves her and tries to win her as much as is humanly possible, but it will take more than human love to free this caged bird and teach her to fly.  For those not familiar with the biblical account, God tells the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute.  He obeys even to the point of loving the woman, and when she runs back to her other lovers, he pursues and brings her back time and again.  Hosea is the only man I have ever heard of who would do something like this, and that was only by God’s grace, which is precisely the point of that account as well as Ms. River’s novel.  There is no one like God.  There is no one who loves like Him.  No one who would take “guilty, vile, and helpless sinners” and pursue them like someone mad with love, suffer rejection and humiliations by their hands, die and bear that very sin, and then welcome them to His home to be with Him forever.  Both the Bible’s Gomer and Redeeming Love’s Angel represent each and everyone of us capricious humans who though face to face with an unfathomable, unconditional, and unchanging love often choose the vile and empty counterfeits that are unable to truly fulfill us and bring us true joy and peace.  Still the true “lover of our souls” calls and pursues us with an everlasting love.  There really is no better love story than this; but next to the real thing, Redeeming Love comes pretty close.

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People’s tastes in literature differ about as much as tastes in music.  Take one DF (dear friend) for instance.  When, I recommended Ted Dekker’s Circle Trilogy, Black, Red, and White, she just replied that she had tried to read it, but didn’t like it at all.  “I think it was too fast paced for me…or maybe it’s just I’ve spent so much time reading 19th Century English literature.”  Jane Eyre is her favorite.  She has read it countless times, and I’ve heard her remark more than once that she just wants to “be Jane”.  I used to chuckle about this, until I really thought about it.  What does that say about her that she wants to insert herself into this really dark tale?  Is she looking for a mystery man, full of dark secrets, not the least of which is (I don’t want to spoil it) something he keeps locked away in his lonely old house, or does she want to be persecuted by a wicked Aunt, but through hard work and study be able to make something of herself?    Granted, I like the book, despite it’s darkness; but do I obsess about it?  Absolutely not.  I will not write any more about this Bronte work because I’m hoping my friend will defend herself with some choice comments as to its merit and beauty.  Someone who really loves a book, should write about it.  So, come out with it, and be convincing, please!

Another friend of mine borrowed the first book in the Circle Trilogy last week.  She asked for the next two books today, as she had already finished the first one.  I asked her if she liked it, but strangely she said, “Yes.”  In sort of a questioning way, and then after much thought said, “Yeah, I liked it.”  In my head I’m thinking, “Okay, you read the first 300+ pages in less than a week and you’re asking for the next two, and you’re not quite sure if you like it?”  I told her about my first friend and her comments about 19th Century English Lit., and this friend said, “She should read Jane Eyre.  I’m reading it now and ugh.”  Now don’t assume this friend (#2) is not well read.  Her mother was my college English professor, and is also something of an Anglophyle (her mother that is), so friend #2 has cut her gums on Dorothy L. Sayers and T.S. Elliott.  As to her actual tastes, I’m not quite sure.  I know that we spent a winter together fighting over Brock and Bodie Thoene’s Zion Chronicles, which is a Christian Historical fiction series set in Israel during the 1940’s, during the time it became a nation. 

I think my tastes in books could be defined as various shades of passion.  There are some genres, of course, I just don’t read at all (horror, romance, etc.); but of the books I read, I really just love them all.  If you had asked me two weeks ago what my favorite genre was, I would have said “mysteries”; however, the same question several months ago would have been answered with “historical fiction”.  This week, however, I think I have indeed discovered what one genre it is that affects me like a drug.  When I’m not reading it, I think about it.  I want to talk about it to everyone I meet (well, that’s almost any good book I’ve read), I stay up much too late reading it, and when I have to turn out the lights, I’m sad because I can’t be reading.  I walk around the house almost in a daze, wondering if there is anyway I can just enter that world I’m reading about.  I don’t do the things that need to be done, because I just have to finish this chapter in the book.  I carry the book with me and attempt to read it everywhere:  in the school car line, at traffic lights (this can be dangerous), in the waiting room at the chiropractic office, between dance classes.  I take baths instead of showers, because you can’t read in the shower.  My DH sees the effects and wonders if I’m reading something that is going to “edify me spiritually”.  “Who cares?” I reply.  “I need this.  I need an escape every once in awhile.  I need to read about a place that is so unlike my own little world and that can transport me there every time I pick up the book.” Now, I admit I have discovered that what I’m really longing for is Heaven and God, but I don’t take the time to remind myself of this when I’m in the midst of a good read.  Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier is one such book.  It is pure fantasy, and I realized the first fantasy I had read since reading The Lord of the Rings.  I have always loved folklore, especially Irish, and Marillier brings to life the old tale of the Wild Swans and weaves a story of love and sacrifice that leaves you heart sick until the very end.  Many may remember this fairy tale of a young girl who must free her six brothers from an evil spell that has changed them into swans.  She is called to a difficult and painful task by “the Fair Folk” and in addition is required to complete her task without utterring a sound.  This story will leave you breathlessly wanting more.  In fact, I am having to force myself to stick to my self-imposed rule:  Alternate Fiction with Non-fictionObviously, this rule is a good one, else nothing would get done around my house.  So, if you want fantasy, choose Daughter of the Forest, if you want a good, unique, “fast-paced” thriller, read Ted Dekker’s Circle Trilogy, if you want an exciting historical novel try the Thoene’s Zion Chronicles,  and if you’re a hopeless romantic and really want to be bummed out, read Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.   (Oooooh, I’m going to be getting some comments now, I know.)

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