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Archive for the ‘Fiction–Historical’ Category

The Kite RunnerThe mournful wail was reminiscent of a Muezzin calling of the faithful to prayer.  The singer lamented in english that his sins were as “high as the tallest mountain” and his deeds like a “small pebble”.  He cries out for forgiveness and mercy from his god all the while the protagonist seeks absolution.  His guilt has pained him for over 20 years and robbed him of a friend, a brother, and even a father; yet in this narrative we are assured that he has at last found forgiveness and peace.  This is a scene from the screen adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s acclaimed book, The Kite Runner .  Yes, according to the author, “there is a way to be good again”.  The Kite Runner is not just a story of friendship, betrayal, and guilt in modern Afghanistan, it is the story of Islamic faith and personal atonement.  Beautifully written, it portrays the journey of two Afghani boys, nursed by the same woman, raised together, but worlds apart.  One, privileged, a coward, and inwardly scarred from lack of love from his father; the other, a faithful, brave, hair-lipped boy who is not only scorned by Afghan society, but eventually by the “brother” he holds dear.  The story is beautifully written and involves all your senses.  One can almost smell the lamb kabobs cooking in the crowded market, hear the crunch of snow beneath your feet as you race to the kite fighting tournament, feel the wet blood on your hands as they are cut by the glass kitestrings, and smell the sickening odor of gasoline and vomit from your hiding place in the gasoline tanker.  The inner turmoil of Amir is paralleled in the Afghani government itself, as the country is first ravaged by the Russians who destroy their land, and then by the Taliban, who destroy their soul.  The story does not end here, Amir’s sins are seemingly washed away at the same time Afghan soil is purged of the Taliban.  There is a parallel here, whether intentional or not. “There is a way to be good again.” 

I loved this book, for the cultural elements, for the poetic literature, and the gripping story.  However, the stark contrast between Islam and Christianity couldn’t be more apparent in this book.  Islam draws a distinction between the faithful Hassan, and the “sinful” Amir.  Although, I would agree that Amir’s ungrateful and almost inhuman inaction was great, Christianity would say that Hassan and Amir are the same.  In fact, our doctrine says we are all the same.  We are all Amir, no matter how many times a day we bow down on our prayer rugs or recite ancient chants.  Islam says “there is a way to be good again”, while Christianity says, you never were good “there is none who do good, not even one”.  Islam says, and thus Hosseini says that you can atone for your sins; while Christianity says, you cannot save yourself; there is only one who can atone for this–a lamb without “spot wrinkle or blemish”.  Although there were many goats being killed in this book, none of them could make atonement for Amir.  I applaud his efforts, and am thankful for his sacrifice at the end, he just can’t “be good”.  In the book, he gained redemption through among other things, his punishment at the end; the shedding of his blood.  We Christians have redemption through the blood of Jesus.  Through this we are declare righteous, so we put our hope in this alone.  If nothing else, this book is a reminder of what I have been freely given by grace and an opportunity to reflect on these things. 

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My excuse for not blogging lately mainly stems from those “happy” first trimester ills that one goes through during pregnancy.  Nausea is very distracting.  It is hard to read or even be on the computer when one’s stomach is constantly vying for attention.  Unfortunately, I have been watching much more television, because it requires so much less of my brain power and energy than a good book.  One night, I was watching the History Channel with DD1 as they were in search of the truth about King Arthur and the location of the Holy Grail.  We watched intently as the camera panned the gorgeous Cornish shoreline and visited the ruins of Tintagel Castle (supposedly where the real Arthur held court).  Then they posed the question, “Could the Grail be hidden somewhere here?”  The show continued to hold our interest by taking us to Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland and telling us about the secrets it may or may not hold.  At one point, the investigators were visiting a “secret” location of a cup purported to have miraculous healing powers when DD1 looked over at me and said, “Do they really believe this stuff, Mommy?”  I almost laughed.  “Well, some people really do, but how can anybody know for sure whether this is the actual cup of the Last Supper?  Nobody can know but God.  Anyway, sometimes it’s fun to think about the possibilities.” 

During the tour of Rosslyn, the reporter informed us that many secret societies hold meetings in the chambers underneath the chapel.  He also mentioned that these groups were aware of hiding places that were not known to even the guides at Rosslyn.  This reminded me of a great series of books by Stephen Lawhead, a brilliant historical novelist.  Lawhead did a trilogy called the Celtic Crusades which dealt with this very subject.  In the books, a secret society who has been entrusted with those most sacred relics from Christendom, continues to protect these holy items through the 21st century.  Lawhead zigzags through time from the origins of this “holy order” and how they obtained their prizes to the present, where their secret must be kept till the end of the age.  Though the society itself is fictionalized, the story of the crusades and all its gore, vanity, and waste is not.  Lawhead pulls no punches in his descriptions of violent, glory seeking crusaders who waste no time in killing men, women, and children whether Muslim, Jew, or Christian and a corrupt Papal system that produces war-mongering and licentious priests and monks promising everything from wealth to free trips to heaven to those who do the Pope’s bidding.  Lawhead is quick to point out that there was a rift in Christendom between those who actually wanted to serve God by loving and serving others, and those who would serve themselves and the Pope at all costs.  The books:  The Iron Lance, The Black Rood, and the Mystic Rose are about those holy objects (the spear that pierced Christ’s side, the cross itself, and the chalice) and how they are won and losts throughout this travesty of the church; but the stories are also about a family who gives their lives to a true purpose that transcends relics and indulgences and makes themselves the enemies of Rome, enemies of the Templars, and in fact the enemies of anyone who would seek their own glory. 

After my virtual tour of Rosslyn, Lawhead had me wondering, “Does he know something we don’t know or did he think the rumors surrounding Rosslyn would make one fantastic story?”  If so, I would have to agree.

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