Friday, June 29, 2012

Sense and Sensibility

Is love a fancy, or a feeling, or a Ferrars?

Definitely a Ferrars. :)

Unfortunately I missed marking the bicentennial of Jane Austen's first published novel back in 2011. I believe that Sense and Sensibility was my first experience of that lady's fictional prowess in written form. I had seen Pride and Prejudice at the tender age of eight or nine, and the 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility not long after. Trying valiantly to hold back tears, (as I didn't like to cry during stories) I asked "Marianne doesn't--die, does she?"

I won't reveal the answer, for the sake of those who don't yet know the story. ;) But after watching the movie, I read the book. And this year I am racing against time to complete all seven of her novels before the summer slips away. I'll let you know the end result.

 Jane Austen has been slandered as a great feministic propagandist of the 19th century; however I find it ironic that her novels contain little more than the stories of young ladies living at home until they are married. Lizzy Bennet, Eleanor Dashwood, and Catherine Moreland aren't much interested in changing the world or championing women's rights. All they want is a happy family, a good husband, and enough money to make a living. What is often seen as Austen's feministic "career" is ridiculous; women can write books, and writing is a biblical and perfectly feminine occupation. And her women's rights advocates disguised as stifled daughters longing for freedom? Sorry. I can't find any indication of that being the case. These young ladies know their life business, and each story focuses on their longing to be a woman, not on a wish to e like a man.

The Story
Eleanor, Marianne, and Margaret Dashwood have just suffered the loss of thier father. Due to the nature of the estate's entail, it passes to their older half-brother instead of to them. When he breaks his promise to their late father about offering them pecuniary assistance, they face living expenses with a much smaller income than that to which they have been accustomed. And of course, which such a small income, it is unlikely that the three sisters will ever be able to marry advantageously. Eleanor, has alread formed an attachment with a certain Edward Ferrars, the brother of her sister-in-law. She even has reason to suspect that he returns her attachment. But his mother has other plans for him.

So the Dashwood ladies move to Devonshire, to a little cottage, far away from their former home and former friends. Eleanor, sensible in the matters of the head and the heart; Marianne, lover of poetry, scorner of conventions, and wearing her heart on her sleeve. Margaret is a bit young to be thinking of such things, but their mother definitely sides in personality with Marianne. Their new neighbors the Middletons are rich and vulgar, though they are cousins. Colonel Brandon is visiting Sir John Middleton; he loves Marianne very soon after they become acquainted, and he wouldn't be half bad if he wasn't on the wrong side of five and thirty. (Austen's words, fellow bibliophiles, not mine.) Of course she doesn't return his affection; she's seventeen years old and despairs of ever finding her ideal mate. Life bids fair to settle into monotony until Marianne falls in love with a Mr. Willoughby. Oh, its romantic. Falling down a hill and spraining her ankle, rendering a ride in his arms indispensable. Everyone knows Willoughby as a charming young man, and life stretches before them full of rainbow promise. Then the Dashwood world crumbles. Willoughby leaves the neighborhood with no plans to return. Eleanor finds out that Edward has had a long-standing engagement with another young woman, who makes her promise to keep it a secret. Alternating between wit and pathos, Jane Austen paints a life-like picture of two sisters' response to disappointment--and what comes of it.

My Thoughts
I've always had a certain connection to Sense and Sensibility. Suffice it to say, I've taken the Jane Austen Character Quiz twice, and each time I come up as most like Eleanor Dashwood. I would have to agree with the results, though of course I'm not a carbon copy.
There's a bit of profanity here and there.
It's been a few years since I've read Austen's works, except for Northanger Abbey, which is almost an annual favorite. I had forgotten her writing syntax, and found it quite interesting. Austen relies on narration to carry her story rather than conversation. Oftentimes a whole chapter will pass with a lot of important events accomplished, but scarcely a word between one character and another. This is good writing, and a skill every author should practice, because modern plots are often carried out solely with conversation instead.
Well-written, and a worth-while story on how to view life: with Sense or Sensibility.

The Movies
1995 adaptation

2008 adaptation

Two movie adaptation reviews are available upon email request. (Don't hesitate!) Reviews include casting, accuracy, language, violence, and thematic material:

Just write using the address on the sidebar, and I would be thrilled to share. Be sure to put the year of the adaptation in your request. :)

If it's been a while, rediscover Austen this summer with her classic about two sisters exploring the meaning of love.

Lady Bibliophile

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

As Silver Refined

Welcome, friends, to my second attempt at Waterbrook Multnomah's Blogging for Books program. Today's review: As Silver Refined, by Kay Arthur.

As Silver Refined
Kay Arthur is well known in the genre of inductive Bible studies for her books that help believers better understand God's Word. I had never heard of her until I saw As Silver Refined amongst my review possibilities. And the premise looked excellent.
Christians often face painful situations with the question "Why?" Job loss, medical problems, infidelity, and children leaving the church throw us reeling back to the foundation of our faith. Such circumstances force us to seek pithy answers explaining God's love in the midst of tribulation. Kay Arthur, in As Silver Refined, desires to provide some of these answers. And her premise is very encouraging to begin with: We are all in the hands of the Master Refiner. He knows the correct heat of the flame to remove our dross.
But I couldn't finish the book. And though the reason may seem petty on first consideration, I couldn't justify continuing. In one of her examples, Arthur talks about some struggles she had in her thought life as a young Christian. I could relate to this struggle, as I had battled some of the things she did. But Arthur's mistake lay in including the actual thought. She clearly portrayed it as a wrong thought, and emphasized the fact that her mind needed refining to remove the dross. But the italicized sentence itself  caused the issue. It was a thought blasphemous towards christianity, and at the end of it was a vulgar swear word.
First of all, it's not the fact that Arthur opened up this struggle that I have a problem with. And it seems petty on the surface to pick a point with this. After all, I'm notorious for using white-out wherever necessary. It's one word. Cover it up, and move on. But four considerations, along with a discussion with my parents, put an end to the book.

1. The word itself was vulgar
Had Arthur chosen a more polite way of expressing the issue, I wouldn't have thought twice about it. But the swear word she included is not in the common run among conservative Christian circles, and many people are unaware of its existence. While I might be able to cover it up and move on, I couldn't recommend it to my circle of acquaintances, because I wouldn't want to be the instrument of adding trash into their minds. It's only one word. But it only takes one to destroy years of protection and careful guarding. Let's face it my friends. We don't have to go out of our way to increase our knowledge of evil. But we do have to do so to avoid it.

2. It's not about how much we can get away with, but how close we can get to God.
The question is not whether or not we 'can' do something, but whether or not we 'should'. And in our reading, or in the case of the author, our writing, we should have the mindset 'is this as close to God's standards as I can get?' I know multiple Christian authors who include sound biblical teaching and deeply personal stories without including objectionable content.

3. Kay Arthur could have done it better.
Arthur didn't have to include the swear word--and even if she did, she doesn't have to use such a vulgar one. As odd as this sounds, some swearing is better than others. Though I use white out on all profanity, there are certain boundaries of propriety that I won't even cover up. It goes in the trash.

4. She has thousands looking up to her example.
The final point: Arthur is a popular Christian teacher. She has thousands looking up to her, thousands imitating and learning from her. It is her duty in this position to maintain as irreproachable an image as she can through the grace of God. Whenever anyone is in the position of leadership, they have the added responsibility of maintaining an untainted testimony. And as a Christian leader, there are some writer's tactics that you just can't use. Leadership requires sacrifice even of things we 'could' do, because  we're thinking of the weaker brethren following in our footsteps.

Finally, I would include the disclaimer that this critique is only for As Silver Refined. Kay Arthur has written 100+ books, and though I have never read any of them, I would assume that many of them contain clean and unobjectionable content. In As Silver Refined, it's not the premise--not even the theology that's wrong. But a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In this case one of her examples was a very weak link. I recommend you read chapter one in the links below. But beyond that, I don't endorse this particular work.

We're all in the hands of the Master Refiner. And our refining continues no matter how far we've walked life's road.

Though I do not personally recommend As Silver Refined, you may wish to check out Kay Arthur's testimony, biography, and other reviews of this book. Waterbrook Multnomah has provided these links for your reading pleasure:

Author's Website
Follow Kay on Twitter
More Info
Read Chapter One (nothing objectionable)
Author Bio

And if you would like to help me out with my points on Blogging For Books, head on over here and rate my review! :) Be sure to click the confirmation link you'll recieve in your email so that the rating is accepted. I received this book for free from the Waterbrook Multnomah Blogging For Books program. I was not required to give a favorable review, and I have expressed my clear and honest opinion.

Next Time:
First Jane Austen review on My Lady Bibliophile!

Lady Bibliophile

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Brethren

The Brethren: A Tale of the Crusades   -     
        By: H. Rider Haggard
We just finished reading The Brethren aloud for the first time yesterday.

*Deep, quavery breath*

So let's get to it.

The Story

The Brethren opens at the onset of the Third Crusade, with an Arab leader's dream. His name is Yusuf Saladin, and he receives a vision that the result of his jihad hinges on the presence of his niece in the Fertile Crescent. Aside from the fact that she's living in England and only half-Arab, his task is pretty simple: kidnap her, and bring her to Jerusalem, and the cause of Islam will prevail. She's the daughter of his dead sister, who eloped with a Frankish knight and denounced her Muslim heritage. And since he couldn't fulfill his oath to bring back the mother, he's determined to lavish all his dubious regard upon her half-English daughter.

Rosamund is barely past twenty, living happily with her father and her two cousins, Godwin and Wulf, and unaware that the clouds of evil are about to break over her peaceful existence. The brothers D'Arcy are twins, brave knights, and staunch lovers.

There's only one problem: they both love their cousin Rosamund.

From the beginning of this plot, I tipped the proverbial hat to Haggard, because he set up an unorthodox love triangle. The fact that two men love the same woman has been done before, but in the case of these two brothers, they have sworn their love and devotion to each other as well as to Rosamund, no matter the outcome. That won him four gold stars from chapter two--or three--or wherever it began. She tells them to wait for her decision two years--and then she'll either marry the one she loves, or she'll marry the one that's left.

But due to a cruel trick, Saladin's men kidnap her, murdering her father, and drugging the two Frankish knights to insensibility. When they awake and follow her, they find that she is already sailing away, and they set off to the Middle East to rescue her from her uncle's hands. She is now known as Lady Rose of the World, niece of Saladin, and Princess of Baalbec

Once arrived, they find help in the form of a strange widow-woman (young and beautiful, I might add) known as Masouda. She seems to have an acquaintance with an ruler of the area they wish to ask for help--Al-Jabal, whose reputation for cruelty is widely spoken of. Masouda is a strange woman, with a strange mind and an alluring past, neither of which she cares to explain. But she has the right connections, and so she sets out to help them in their quest to rescue the Lady Rosamund. And fairly soon, it becomes quite evident that it's not for Rosamund's sake she risks her  life.

Any more would be telling. ;)

In her company, the brethren Godwin and Wulf set out to rescue their cousin Rosamund from the clutches of Al-Jabaal, the cruel kindness of her uncle, and the danger to be found as a Christian in a Muslim land. From the sands of the desert to the battle of Jerusalem, their trusty swords unite to bring her safely home again--until a couple of unexpected twists threaten to separate the brethren and make a tragic end to their quest.

 It's an epic tale, and a heartrending drama, written in classic Haggard style.

My Thoughts

Oh, aye, this is a lovely tale, and the brethren are staunch examples of Christian knighthood. I highly esteemed them both--but I guessed correctly. :)

The widow Masouda deserves special mention as the best of the whole lot--her humor, bravery, and gorgeous personality captured my attention from her very first scene. She is a woman, and though Rosamund was...well... sweet, Masouda showed a worth of gold and diamonds.

Haggard kept our attention until the very last page. And in spite of it's romantic propensities, this is no cheesy joy-ride. Read it at your own risk, with the full knowledge that you may endure anguished grief or heights of joy caught up in the saga. It's the type of story that grips you no matter the outcome--though you may come away battle-bruised and weary, you wouldn't trade knowing the brethren for all of Rosamund's jewels. The author winds you up so emotionally in the drama that no matter the outcome, you finish slightly out of breath.

While I was in suspense, I staunchly believed that the brethren they lived, or the brethren they died. In my mind there was no separating the two of them. But which (if any) of the outcomes actually takes place, who is Rosamund's man of choice, and the reason for Masouda's loyalty, I leave you all to discover. You will struggle right alongside them. 

And trust me, you won't want to miss it.

Lady Bibliophile

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Allegory With A Twist

Thank-you all for your insight regarding my last post Hunger for Evil--your comments sparked some excellent discussion, and forced me not merely to throw the idea out into blogosphere, but to back up my comments with Scripture. It was a new skill for me, to present something so controversial, and I would like to close it for now by saying that I deeply respect each one of you and your walk with Christ. Seeking His will is the highest aim for the Christian bibliophile, and I applaud those of you who have done so, no matter which conclusion you reached.

Kingdom's DawnAnd today's post was influenced in part by our discussion over the weekend. It became quite evident that I was writing to an audience deeply passionate about sacrifice, even when it comes to laying down our own life. And I wanted to choose a book or series that I could highly recommend, which pursued the Christian themes of self-sacrifice in the midst of difficulties. Obviously, there are many I could choose from, but the Lord impressed upon my mind one author in particular that my siblings and I have enjoyed. This author worked in the sacrificial theme to great extent, along with chivalry, bravery, and the overthrow of some pretty wicked governments. While many elements are different from The Hunger Games, some of the themes are quite similar. There is, however, one major difference.

Kingdom's HopeChuck Black wrote his books to bring his readers to a deeper understanding of God and His Word. And he wrote them not for fame, nor for fortune, but for his children.

Let not such praise as "The Pilgrim's Progress for the Xbox generation" frighten some of my readers away. His books were written within the last ten years, 'tis true, but he really couldn't help that. And, after all, it's not the era that determines the worth...mostly.

About the Author
Kingdom's Edge
Chuck Black served eight years in the United States Air Force, some of that time as a F-16 fighter pilot. Now he's a homeschool dad of seven. He noticed as he read through the Bible with his children that they responded much more quickly to the parables of Jesus--when the teaching was set forth as a story. So he began to craft a story for them set in medieval times, that allegorically portrayed the life of Jesus in the Bible. It spread from the life of Jesus to the events of the entire Bible, and then on to allegorical displays of virtues and vices in this fantasy land called "Arrethtrae".  Now teens and adults all over the world are joining his call "The King reigns...and His Son!" What started as a small book for his children turned into two series, audiobooks, music, posters, and other paraphernalia. To prove to you its appeal to all ages, my older brother and I first shared the Arrethtrae drama (and still do) while my younger sister quickly joined our enthusiasm.

But in the end, enthusiasm isn't everything--the question is, how effective is Black's work to point the reader to Scripture?

In my own experience, very effective indeed.

His Works
Kingdom's CallToday's post is a broad overview of his works. I may come back and deal with them individually at a later date, but for this post, I wanted to introduce you to the books themselves, and highlight some key points that cause them to stand out.

1. No Magic
I enjoy such authors as Tolkien and Lewis immensely--George MacDonald's Princess' works as well. Personally, however, I've never been that keen on wizards and witches and spells, much as I enjoy these selective works. But Chuck Black wanted to create a work that glorified the Lord by purposely leaving all magic out. And for some families, this special quality is very encouraging indeed.

Kingdom's Quest (Kingdom, Book 5)2. Epic Adventure
All the sword fighting, the horse rides, the moral dilemmas--where the moral itself isn't the dilemma-- and the fight between good and evil pack a pretty powerful punch. You'll even find combats in the arena, (many of which have the rule "fight to the death") and Chuck Black handles it all with biblical wisdom. Adventure stories hold a special pull, and it is refreshing when an author can include it all at a highly-concentrated rate without biblical compromise.

3. Biblical Research
What do you get out of the Kingdom series as far as biblical knowledge and a greater understanding of God's Word? Very simply, what you want to put into it. It all depends on you. Black incorporates Scripture right into his character's mouths and the text of the stories, sometimes word for word--but he won't make it glaringly obvious. In the back of each book are discussion questions and answers, but again, this is no fluff study. The questions help explain the fictional story's parallels to Scripture, and often the answers require the reader to search Scripture and find verses for themselves. The story is worthwhile without this, but take the time to do both and you'll go through a comprehensive overview of Scripture. And yes, when I went through them, I did go through the questions as I went along. :)  Angels aren't cherubs with wings--they are mighty warriors. Children listen to their parents, and if they don't it doesn't turn out "all right anyway". Each knight and lady holds to a high standard of integrity, in courtship and marriage--or in simple comradeship. The characters don't just say a few Bible verses to tip us off to their Christianity. They live it and speak it-- and sometimes die for it.

Story Synopsis

1. The Kingdom Series
Kingdom's Reign (Kingdom, Book 6)The Kingdom series is "written" by one knight of the Prince, Cedric of Chessington. Books one and two chronicle the life of Sir Leinad  and his representation of great leaders from Genesis through the minor prophets. Book three represents the life of Jesus through the eyes of his followers. Books four and five chronicle the life of the apostle Paul (a.k.a. Sir Gavin) and Book six, of course, represents the events of Revelation. I must say, though I haven't made a deep study of the end times, Chuck Black presents some excellent points through his fictional events in Kingdom's Reign. And reading an allegory of Jesus' life through the eyes of his opponents (as well as his friends) was quite compelling.

2. The Knights of Arrethtrae
Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione (The Knights of Arrethtrae)Each book in this series is about a different knight, who represents a virtue and fights against a vice. Since this series was written after the Kingdom books, it's easy to see Black's plotting and knowledge of sword play take a significant leap forward. The books are not specific times in the church, but they represent the playing out of the Great Commission from Christ's Ascension until his Second Coming.

3. The Order:
Sir Bentley and Holbrook Court (The Knights of Arrethtrae)If you wish, you can read The Kingdom Series and then The Knights of Arrethtrae, but our family is big on reading from the beginning to the end chronologically. My brother and I figured out how to do that. For the bibliophiles who want to begin at the beginning and work through to the end, I suggest reading them this way:

1. Kingdom's Dawn
2. Kingdom's Hope
3. Kingdom's Edge
4. Kingdom's Call
5. Kingdom's Quest
6. Sir Kendrick and the Castle of Bel Lione
7. Sir Bentley and Holbrook Court
8. Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart
9. Lady Carliss and the Waters of Moorue
10. Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor
11. Sir Rowan and the Camerian Quest
12. Kingdom's Reign

Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart (The Knights of Arrethtrae)More Elements:

1. Allegorical Animals
While Black includes no magic, he does create some of his own animals and plants. Blood Wolves, the Life Spice, different insects, reptiles, and mammals, all combine to illustrate Scriptural points. Each animal has an allegorical meaning, but they are quite believable in their make-up. After their kind, and never based on evolution.

2. Women in Combat
Lady Carliss and the Waters of Moorue (The Knights of Arrethtrae)There are a few occasions where it's difficult to translate our spiritual fight to a physical battle. But Black does an excellent job in this. There are a couple of times in which women are in battles, but he's not at all advocating women in the military or ignoring the fact that men and woman have different responsibilities. In these situations, he's representing the fact that both men and women are fighting a spiritual battle. In such scenes his focus is more on the spiritual representation than the physical story. Rest assured that his men are chivalrous in defending the women, and the women do not cultivate feminist attitudes. Their roles are clearly separate. The men are always leaders, and the women are always helpers. And the ladies do some pretty adventurous things while staying within their God-given femininity. Take Carliss, for instance. :)

The results in my life
Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor (The Knights of Arrethtrae)Suffice it to say, Black leaves his readers without excuse in his novels. It's really difficult to read his books and still practice the vices he's writing against, simply because of the story. The story represents the consequences--the reward of right and the pain of wrong--in such a compelling way that one is forced to take responsibility for one's actions when reading them.
As for long term effect in my life? Well, after finishing the books, and following the climax from Arrethtrae's creation to the end times, I really felt a thirst to read the Bible the same way. For ten years, I've been reading through a plan in which I read the Law one day a week, the Prophets the next, then the Epistles,  O.T. History, and N.T. History, etc. But after reading Black's books, I decided to take a break from my regular plan and read the Bible simply from beginning to end. I like both plans, but I have been enjoying the chronological picture of Christ's redemption. 

Further Kingdom resources
Sir Rowan and the Camerian Conquest (The Knights of Arrethtrae)All the books are now on audio, and we are the happy possessors of two at the present time. The unabridged male and female narration complete with sound effects and music is well done; I highly encourage you to check them out, though of course, you won't get the benefit of the discussion questions on audio.

Check out to read about the movies in the works. Beginning production isn't fast, but you can donate if you like to help it along. :) Jess Stainbrook is the executive producer, and if budget allows (they want to make it along the LOTR level) they're hoping to shoot in Scotland or New Zealand.

And, for more information, free resources, music, desktop wallpapers, and more, check out

The King reigns...and His Son!

Lady Bibliophile

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hunger for Evil

After due prayer, deliberation, and discussion with my parents, I have asked and received permission to be controversial. :)

All in a good cause.

 With all reliance upon the Lord for wisdom and tact,  I would like to inform you of a dangerous compromise on the part of Christian bibliophiles. Church congregations, groups of homeschool moms, and myriads of Christian teens are giving their endorsement to three books that teach depravity in the worst way--because the depravity is disguised as good fighting against an even greater evil. This series has caused a loosening of standards, and an endorsement of worldly thinking systems. It has dulled proper horror at murder and deceit. In allowing it into our literary diets, we have ushered in a Trojan horse of Darwinian thinking and moral ambiguity. Probably most of you know which series I refer to. I'll tell you in just a minute.

Let me lay all my cards on the table from the first. I've never read these books. I know the story synopsis of all three novels. I have never seen the move, or the trailer--only a movie review. I barely know the names of the characters involved. And some might say that this disqualifies me to speak to the issue. But I don't have to put my hand in the fire to know that it's hot. And I don't have to read the whole book to know that it's wrong. We're called to judge books first of all by their covers--and if the cover has the appearance of evil, then need we go farther?

Most blogs I've read, however, didn't judge the book by its cover. They read it eagerly, and endorsed it happily. So the purpose of today's post is to challenge those who have accepted this series as good, and to equip those who disagree with the points they need to refute it

The series is the New York Times bestseller The Hunger Games. For those who do not know the books, I promise to be discreet with the synopsis and information I include about the storyline. First I'll give you a short synopsis of what the book is about--and then I'll share the Christian principles it violates in its main premise.
 I was not aware in beginning this article that Suzanne Collins, the author, holds to the Roman Catholic faith, nor do I know to what extent this faith affects her life and writing.  I don't know if any of the characters are portrayed as Christians. But as we've discussed before, a book needs to have a groundwork of morality, a clear and biblically based moral system, whether or not the Source of that system is openly expressed. And here, the moral system is twisted in the name of good. 

The US is long lost in history, and upon the continent of North America, the country of  Panem reigns. The land is divided into one main capitol, and twelve districts. As punishment for the rebellion of lost district 13, each of the districts must send one boy and one girl to compete in the Hunger Games--a fight to the death, in which only one contestant can remain. The representatives are chosen by lottery, and 16-year-old Katniss has the bravery (or is it?) to volunteer in place of her younger sister Prim, after Prim is selected. The rest of the series consists of the games, death, revolt, and a fight between the government and the districts.

Problem 1: The sacrifice was wrong.
Katniss is lauded among Hunger fans for her heroic sacrifice. After all, Jesus himself said "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). But what Katniss chose to do was an act of weakness and self-reliance. Here's what she should have done (assuming that no parents were around, in which case they should have done it.) Instead of standing up and yelling "I volunteer", She should have stood up for Prim and proclaimed "we will not take part in this godless fight. Prim may not go." By volunteering herself as a substitute, Katniss gave her support to the whole idea of the Hunger Games, and by going, she helped perpetuate the evil system. If Prim had been taken by force, then they would have had the glory of martyrdom standing against a depraved government. No one can force us against our will to do evil. They can only kill us when we refuse.  It is ironic to note that Katniss' act saved Prim's life only temporarily, as Prim dies in book three. Her choice seems a heroic act on the surface, but dig a little deeper, and you'll find that she chose the wrong way out. Katniss bears no resemblance to the  heroism of the Christian martyrs.  If Collins' had truly incorporated a semi-Christian worldview, Katniss would have realized that life bought at the expense of good is poorly bought indeed. Katniss relied on her own smarts, her own strength, and her own sagacity. She walked by sight, not by faith that God could deliver her and her sister. And when we rely upon ourselves, rather than the Lord's power, than our choices turn to tragedy.

And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
-Luke 12:4-7

Problem 2: What are they fighting for?
The Hunger Games are held to remind the districts of the consequences of rebelling against the government. Each time a child is entered into the Hunger Games, their family receives the grain that the poverty-stricken districts cannot afford. The winner receives food for their district--and TV interviews, tours, wealth, etc. This idea promotes several things:

1. Survival of the fittest
The Game itself is based upon the evolutionary idea that only the best prevail. I don't know Collins' personal beliefs in this area, but the cruel fight for elimination throughout the series is full of this evolutionary concept.

2. Fighting for food, not principle
I could understand, if not agree with some of the problems up to this points--i.e. Katniss volunteering out of a mistaken sense of duty. But the problem that really causes this series to fall apart is the reason for the Hunger Games. The children ages 12-18 are not fighting for morality, Christianity, overthrow of tyranny, or even undergoing persecution for their faith. They're fighting for food. Really, this conflict sinks the contestants to the level of animals. An animal kills for food and survival. So do the contestants of the Hunger Games.

3. Parents are murderers.
My friends, the horror and tragedy of this series is that 12-18-year-old teens are killing each other. Would you allow someone you know to participate so that you could receive food from their murderers?  The fact that the parents of these teens even entered the children into the lottery makes them murderers, even if the child doesn't get drawn. The adults in this series constantly flunk their duty to protect, forcing their children to take part in an evil game. This sends the idea to young people that they are capable and wise enough to survive on their own. Their parents just won't help.

I could bring out much more: Deceit, revenge, excused theft, inappropriate behavior, the people that Katniss murders in the name of liberty, and the whole unhealthy culture surrounding the movies themselves. But I'm afraid I'll have to make an end for now.  The ultimate thought for The Hunger Games is this:

What could they do, when they had no food to stay alive? They could starve for right rather than live for wrong.

For those of you who would like further reasons on the false morality portrayed in The Hunger Games, Mockingjay, and Catching Fire, I would be happy to give you my thoughts by the email address on the sidebar.

Thank-you for reading. :) It's not often that I'll do something like this, but in this case, I felt the Lord leading me to call other bibliophiles to really see what this series is portraying. I'll admit that at first  I considered looking up this series. I had never heard of it until I found favorable reviews on the blogs of homeschooled, Christian young ladies. By God's grace, I quickly realized that things ran a little deeper than they first appeared. Then when I talked with my parents and some other godly women, I realized the faulty worldview it portrayed--fortunately before I pursued it further. Much of what I have presented today comes from those discussions.

I hope this gives you some food for thought, whether you have read The Hunger Games, or chosen to avoid them. As always, I wish you all the best on your reading journeys. May we never settle for second best in the service of our King. :)

Lady Bibliophile

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

To Come and Die

When Christ calls a man...

...He bids him come and die.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my greatest historical heroes. I first became acquainted with him through the Focus on the Family drama Bonhoeffer: the Cost of Freedom, which I have probably listened to a good seven times or more. Following that, I read Eric Metaxas' brilliant work entitled Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. This German theologian intrigued me--after all, it's not every committed Christian who will join a plot to assassinate Hitler. He challenged my German WWII stereotype--any German in that time being a bad German, in much of the literature I have read. I learned two things from his life: firstly, that it isn't the country that determines a man's good or bad character. Secondly, that following Christ means casting ourselves over the brink into the gulf of God's will. We carry no safety measures, bring no expectations, but simply follow wherever God leads. In Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life, this complete surrender led to some startling decisions and original theology, that is a refreshing  counter to the cheapness of grace in today's church.

That's right. In today's evangelical circles, grace is entirely too cheap. And I had to read one of Bonhoeffer's theological works to find out what real grace looks like. Today's review, my friends and fellow bibliophiles: The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The Main Thesis:
Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace...An intellectual assent to [Christ's grace] is held to be of itself sufficient to secure the remission of sins...Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before...Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace...without Jesus Christ.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought...Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son.

A Synopsis:
In The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer thoroughly rounds out the premise that God's grace requires everything in return. Using Matthew Chapter 5-10, he explains section by section Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, which lays out the life Jesus' followers are to live. Then he applies it to the modern church and what that looks like today. The Cost of Discipleship is divided into four sections: 1. What grace is--a call to discipleship. 2. The Sermon on the Mount--the "extraordinariness" of the Christian life. 3. The messengers--what disciples of Christ looks like. 4. How the Church today reflects the image of Christ.

My Thoughts:
First of all, I will say that this is the first straight theology I have read of my own accord. I fear me, it was more for Bonhoeffer than for it's own sake at first, but by the first chapter, I was challenged, thrilled, and eagerly drinking it in. That's saying a lot for a die-hard story fan, because Bonhoeffer doesn't use a single story, illustration, or biblical parallel in this whole work. He quotes the Scripture, and lays out how we are to follow it.

And I felt as if I was quenching my thirst with a really satisfying drink.

I may have disagreed with Bonhoeffer on a couple of points: when he discusses baptism, he takes a side tangent into infant baptism. While I agree with him on some of his thesis, namely that baptism should be undertaken  with holy reverence; I would argue that I only see where believer's baptism would fulfill the Scriptural requirements. I realize that different convictions are held on this point, and I have many respected friends who believe otherwise, so I mainly raise this point for those who hold to believers' baptism to be aware of.

The second point I might pick with him is on the matter of judging others: Bonhoeffer holds, and rightly so, that we should not judge others. But he fails to point out a very important aspect of this: First we should remove the beam from our own eye, and then remove it from our brother's. We do not judge, but Scripture does, and it is not wrong to gently point out sin in our brother's life, with all graciousness, humility, and tact.

Those points aside, and they are small parts of the whole really, this book refreshed my soul and taught me much. Bonhoeffer teaches that we should hold Christ's grace in high reverence, that Christ is the one who calls people to him. It's not a free ticket to heaven, it's a call to be justified and sanctified. His point helped me better express my own thoughts on this area. Secondly, his chapter on forgiveness and correction in the church was quite eye-opening; I had some hazy ideas on this, similar to his own, but he helped shed some more light on it. And thirdly, his appeal to simply follow Christ--not looking to our own profit, or our own good works--was challenging indeed.

He packed myriads of Scripture into his points. His theology is sound, well-referenced, and thought-provoking indeed. It's quite a simple read, though the last chapters do get a bit long, and I give my highest recommendation to this work.

Following Christ is not merely intellectual assent. It is a revolution to a man's whole way of existence.

Lady Bibliophile

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Parting of the Ways (Part Three)--The Sorcerers' Scrolls

Believe it or not, I was hesitating over giving up a book simply because of the money I had paid for it.

The money spent is a legitimate reason to be concerned; after all, we want to be good stewards of our Lord's resources. But that is probably the lowest reason on the fact sheet why we should continue reading a questionable book. I've thrown out quite a few quarter and dollar books--you know, the kind where you go to the thrift store and say "Well, it looks interesting. And for a quarter..." But this particular book was brand-spanking new, bought right off the shelf of one of America's top bookstores. I was sick of it, I didn't want to finish it, but I had paid six dollars for it. And for some of us, that's a considerable investment.

So I put it down "for now" with one of those knowing feelings that I wouldn't be coming back. Sure enough, I haven't yet, nor will I probably. Because our family read a very insightful passage of Scripture that addressed this very issue--the giving up of books, when they hold monetary value. Read  if you will  a couple of verses from Acts 19:

     Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.   A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.

Such a small passage of Scripture, and it doesn't seem to have much applicability upon first glance. After all, these were sorcerers--pagan Gentiles. These weren't innocent little bibliophiles with a love for the written word. And their scrolls were not written for the amusement factor--they weren't what you might call reading material. But they were part of the literary offerings of the time, and these men held a public book burning having been convicted by the Lord Jesus Christ.

Take the phrase "fifty thousand drachmas". What is it's monetary value in today's day and age? A drachma, according to the information available in the NIV study Bible, was a day's wages for them. Therefore, 50,000 drachmas meant 136 years worth of wages. Placing the average income at 45,000 dollars per year, according to surveys of the American public, this times 136 years would bring the entire total of the sorcerer's scrolls to the sum of $6,120,000.

Now obviously, these scrolls weren't worth that much as far as the contents themselves. It is said by Bible scholars that the value lay in the superstition surrounding them, and people's fear of thier power. But in the end, it matters not where the value lies. The point is, that these men just burned six million that they could have used to live in style the rest of their days. Six million.

And I was hesitating about six?

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
-Philippians 3:8

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
-Hebrews 12:1-2

 These sorcerers burned their very livelihood for the sake of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. I should be willing to throw aside a single book, that brings me nothing but entertainment, for the sake of running my race without entanglement. No matter that they were "how-to" sorcery manuals, and that wasn't what I was reading. God used these few verses in Acts 19 to show me that money is nothing when our mental and spiritual well-being is affected by our decision.
A lot of times, in thinking about giving up a book, we think only of the negative aspects: giving up a character we like, not finding out the conclusion, having to walk by the shelf and resist it whenever we see it. But think of the positives: the eternal benefit, knowing our Lord Jesus Christ, freedom from the weight of ideas and scenes that will pull us down.

In Conclusion
You might remember my first article, in which I mentioned an example of a book that I had given up: Michael Phillips' Angel Harp. Last night, I had the opportunity to spend an hour in a Christian book store, just browsing for about forty minutes. Needless to say, it doesn't happen often, and I was enjoying myself having fits over the offerings of pop Christian literature. And then, as my eye ran along the shelf, I came to Angel Harp. Right beside it sat the sequel, Heather Song.

I thought "You know, I'd really like to know what happened."

And I continued on.

I still don't know. I probably never will. But God gave me the strength to turn away. My testimony is too precious, and my mental peace is too easily eroded upon to squander a moment's satisfaction to a single bit of regret. Too much depends upon your reading choices, fellow bibliophiles, not to put the bad ones down.

So pause your reading for a moment here to grab that book you've been sensing that it's time to put an end to.

Pray and surrender it to the Lord Jesus, asking Him how he wants you to deal with it.

Obey His leading.

And never look back. 

Lady Bibliophile

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Parting of the Ways (Part Two)--Saying Goodbye

I shall be honest, and give you all my sincere apologies. My nebulous thoughts for today's post fizzled to nonexistence, instead of panning out as they were supposed to. So, I shall have to retract my statement on Friday, and make it up to you all by continuing on with this series A Parting of the Ways, Part Two: Saying Goodbye.

Goodbyes are often characterized in literature as a sad thing. I've never yet read of two people saying goodbye with the happy thought that they shall never see each other again. No doubt the scene exists among the vast libraries of history, but I have failed to discover it in my wanderings. For the most part, goodbyes are painful, bitter, or despairing. And with a book that you love, but need to put down, the following quote best expresses the feelings you're facing:

To die and part is a less evil; but to part and live, there, there is the torment.

It would be easier if we could click a magic button that immediately removes the book we put down from all websites, libraries, and bookstores. If it 'died' so to speak, by disappearing from the face of the earth. But it doesn't. When you go to the library, you see it on the shelf, and depending on how hard it was to put down, the pain starts up again. When you roam the happy pages of blogosphere, you find a review of it by someone who really loved it, and you ask the Lord again "why can't I?"

Believe me. There are books I pass that still make me wince in remembrance.

The Time Has Come
Generally, there are four reactions when deciding to "say goodbye" to a character who, however loveable their personality, is not a friend we want to spend time cultivating.

1. Agreeable indifference. Sure, they were rather nice--or funny--or piquant. But in the end, they didn't tie your heartstrings too much, and you really don't mind not finding out the ending. After all, it's for the best. The End.

2. Nostalgic Remembrance. This may sound odd--and maybe I'm the only one who has this--but occasionally I'll pass a forbidden book at the library, and smile over the character's good points. The lovable parts. I don't have a hankering to read it again, but I relive the memory for the moment, and pass on.

3. Bitter Pain. Every time you pass it, it's like being a thirsty man at a poisoned well. You want it. You need it. Those characters call out to you to read of them and their adventures again. And though you never would; your convictions are too strong for that; you would check it out in a heartbeat if you could possibly justify it.

4. Stinging Regret. This comes very rarely, but it still does come. You regret having met the character in the first place. Their actions leave a bad taste in your mouth, and you wish that you had never formed an acquaintance with them. You have no desire to pick the book up; on the contrary, you wish that by some miracle it might be erased from your memory.

It All Comes Down to This

Who do we love more? Think about that for a moment. Do we love Ian Barclay's crooked grin above our Lord's smile of approval? Do we so earnestly desire to know the end that we would sell our precious time--eternal time--to know the outcome? Doubtless we would never say so, but in the moment of pressure, the temptation is very real. I have experienced it myself, and sometimes I have said yes, and sometimes I have said no. Whenever I relied on the Lord for the strength to say no, I trusted one of his promises:

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. --Matthew 6:33

When I trust Him; when I obey Him and seek His Kingdom; when I have walked by faith, and not by sight; then I have literally seen Him give me the character I loved so much back again--different name, different circumstances--but the same spirit shining through, without my having to wink at evil.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28

Think of it: we have the reward of sacrificing to Christ, which He is not unrighteous to forget. And the next time, we have the added strength of having said no before.

Trust in the Lord and do good;
dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart. 
-Psalm 37:3-4

Trust in the Lord, and do the good He has required of you. Dwell in the safe mental pastures He directs you to. Delight in His protection and His leading--and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
-Psalm 37:5-6

 Commit yourself to following him by closing those covers. Trust in Him, and He will do this: he will glorify Himself by making your righteous actions shine like the sun, and your reward like the brightness of the dawn.

The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
 --Psalm 37:23-24

Delight in obeying his leading. He will make your steps firm, and though you stumble in the pain of goodbye, you will not fall, for He will uphold you with His Hand. 

How Do I Let it Go?

Believe it or not, there are two ways to let go of a book. The first is to close it immediately. The second is to finish it, but to determine not to read it again.

1. Closing immediately. I did this with Angel Harp. I've done it several times, actually. Titles would be too incriminating here, but sometimes upon the second read I've found things that I didn't notice the first time around, and I've had to close it in the middle. One time I checked out a book from the library, read the first conversation, and returned it the following day. Sometimes, I know that I have to lay it aside, but I'm not mentally surrendered. I close the covers 'for now' until enough time passes for the Lord to work his will in my heart and help me lay it down for good.

2. Finish it, and lay it aside. I'm a big Gene Stratton-Porter fan, but when I picked up The Harvester, I was disappointed in what I found. It's her typical brand of love story, and a good one in itself, but the main protagonist had a works-based Christianity and prayed to the "Almighty Evolver of the universe." His rule of salvation was to follow the Golden rule, and he was sure that such a life would bring salvation. He was handsome, and clean, and honorable--and I wanted him to win out. But he believed a lie, and every statement of his about religion grieved my heart. But I prayed about it, and determined that I would finish it and then lay it aside.

There are a few indicators of which choice you should pick.

1. Closing immediately.
-If you really don't care what's going to happen, and you know you'll not be reading it again anyway, then why continue?
-If it's making you uncomfortable, taking away your sleep, causing you to excuse evil, or editing it seems beyond your ability.

2. Finish it and lay it aside.
--This is a sub-rule of this point, but if it's an espionage story, you might find it easier to lay aside if you simply read the last chapter to find out the conclusion, and then pitch it. I've done this with a mystery story or two.
--If the plot is feminine instead of masculine.
In this last point, I'm not referring to whether the character is a man or a woman. A masculine plot is the conquering of a physical difficulty--catching the thief, discovering the spies, winning the war, etc. The feminine plot is changing of the protagonist's inner character. Surprisingly, the feminine plots are harder to disentangle ourselves from, because they involve a deeper emotional struggle. Such was the case in The Harvester, and that is why I chose to finish it--so that, since his mental struggle was resolved, I wouldn't have to deal with the difficulty of his unresolved pain along with saying goodbye.

In all these choices, you should seek the Lord for wisdom and obey His leading. There is no hard and fast rule; the above are simply suggestions that I have found helpful. But your choice must be in submission to what God requires of you.

Lady Bibliophile

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Parting of The Ways (Part One)--Facing Separation

It's hard to put a book down. I think we would all agree on this point. :) What makes it even more difficult is when you become friends with the main character. Yes, a book friendship is quite hypothetical, but it is real nonetheless. You want to know if they win out--both mentally and in their current challenge. You want the knowledge that they know the Lord--because even though it's a book, sometimes authors paint so vividly that you want the assurance the character would be seeing you in heaven if they were real. And you want the freedom to imagine the happily-ever-after they will experience in their life after you read "The End".

But some characters fulfill none of those qualifications, and the realization sinks in that no matter how you love them, you must lay them aside. The principle put forth in Proverbs is deeply ingrained in our consciences:

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. 

Another reference tells us that a companion of fools will come to harm. 

In this series I would like to discuss the topic of laying aside a book in which the characters are untrustworthy. It's not easy to close those covers, but the grace of God gives us the strength to do so. This series discusses faulty characters only; choosing to lay aside faulty plot lines will have to come another time. In the first part I'll talk about evaluating the necessity of a parting of the ways. Part two will cover how to make an ending with the book, and part three is a special encore discussing a group of men who made the decision to weed out their ungodly literature--what it cost, and what they gained.

The Books I Left Behind Me
Since starting this blog, it's been quite a bit more difficult to make excuses about my reading material. With every article, I leave myself just a bit less room than I had before for letting the bad books creep into my reading diet. And that, my dear readers, is due to the accountability I find in you. My Lord will not allow me to preach a double message, for I cannot encourage other readers to draw closer to Christ when I am unwilling to do so myself. I wanted to illustrate these post with a couple of practical examples of books I've chosen to return to the library this year. In using the following books, I am not saying that they are entirely devoid of merit. You may be able to sift and sort in a way that I am not. But due to God's direction in my life, I chose books that I would not be personally recommending to others to explain my points.

For instance, just about a month ago, I made an end to Michael Phillip's Angel Harp. I highly respect and enjoy Phillips' writings, at least his '90s novels; and I was excited to see what he would have in one of his latest 2010 stories. It was about a forty-year-old widow, who's husband wasn't a Christian when he died (a heavy theme to begin with) and who had drifted away from God herself. She wasn't actively antagonistic towards the Christian faith; more spiritual laziness than anything. But she was unimpressed with the poor comfort she received from her church when her husband died. So she left the Christian faith decided to go to Scotland, to fulfill a life-long dream, where she found a sweet little vacation spot in the town of Port Scaurnose. There she meets Phillips' classic set-up: an unorthodox clergyman, Ian Barclay; an emotionally scarred Duke of Buchan, Alsidair Riedhaven; and the 12-year-old girl Gwendolyn, dying from leukemia. The only thing is, Gwendolyn is living with her aunt Olivia instead of her father, and he hasn't seen her since she was born. The plots of this book are three: bringing restoration with Gwendolyn and Alsidair, Marie's relationship with God, and whether she should pick the curate or the duke (in a matrimonial way). By the first 150 pages, my mind was receiving small warning signals from a theological standpoint. Ian Barclay fully understood the grace of God, but Phillips has always struggled with God's judgement in his literature. This particular curate didn't believe in God's judgement; he believed God was only a Heavenly Father. God is a Father, and He longs for each of His prodigals to return to him; but he is a God of justice as well as a God of mercy, and as hard as that justice is to accept sometimes, it needs to be included in our beliefs. Also, when Barclay is counselling Marie on her Christian walk, he 'doesn't want to push her' and just lets the conversation drift wherever she likes. If she asks a question, he offers a thought on it, but he doesn't bring up spiritual topics of his own accord. He won't even pray when he invites her over to dinner, because he thinks it might make her feel uncomfortable. She's 'on her own journey' and he 'respects the fact that each journey is individual'. At first, such conversations made me uncomfortable without knowing why. After all, God does work in people's spiritual walk individually, we should be kind and considerate to others and their comfort level, and we want to appropriately gauge the amount of information we give according to the other person's interest level.

But still...

The focus was all on Marie. And that was the problem. Ian Barclay wasn't telling her "This is the way; walk ye in it." He was focused on her comfort, her thoughts about God, her spiritual journey. And he should have been pointing her to God instead of herself. Marie does finally accept and embrace God according to Ian Barclay's theology, and I never doubted their sincere Christianity; but I have to say, these characters were fictionally saved in spite of their theology, not because of it. When you take out God's judgement, then why do you need Jesus Christ? What is He saving you from? When you leave off certain conventions of the Christian faith just because someone is uncomfortable with them, then what message does that send?  Where do you draw the line? After all, much of modern society is uncomfortable with the true Christian faith, and that's good. Christianity is supposed to be offensive to those who do not accept it, for Christ's first coming was not for peace upon earth, but division between light and darkness. But according to Ian Barclay, does that mean we wouldn't pray before we eat every time there's a non-Christian present? And if each journey is so individual that you can't offer direct Scriptural counsel about it, then what is the Word of God for? It is not only for the comfort of the faithful, but also for the conviction of the ungodly. And it applies to everyone in all situations.

The tricky part was, most of his points were good some of the time. They included truth, yes, but not to the extent Ian Barclay took them. And paired with red hair, a Scottish accent, and a heartwarming grin, I was ready to overlook the quirks--for Ian's sake. I'll just evaluate, I thought, and move on.

And then the witchcraft started up.

It really is frustrating. Put a harp in a book, and automatically you have two heavy themes: death and the supernatural.  Gwendolyn's aunt Olivia is really a sour and strange woman, so I wasn't tempted to overlook anything for her sake. When the small town rumors started up, I thought they were just small town rumors. Most books have one or two involving strange powers that are either logically explained or nonexistent. But when they blew from small town rumors to rhyming phrases, reports from her brother the Duke about childhood terrors, and strange powers in the eyes, I was really starting to feel uncomfortable. By the time the characters were experiencing physical reactions to her looks, I knew I had come to a fork in the road:

"My eyelids grew heavy as I listened. I had to shake myself almost physically to keep my wits about me."

"Again her voice softened. Once more I felt myself growing drowsy."

"What was I to think? I saw her speaking in that calm, measured, smooth, mesmerizing voice that had become so familiar. I heard nothing, and saw her lips moving. I felt rather than heard the hypnotic power of her voice trying to lure and persuade me to believe what she said.  My chest began to tighten. My eyelids felt heavy...Desperately I tried to shake myself awake, to cast off the spell."
I never have been a big fan of magic to begin with; I'll allow a little in fantasy or in really old medieval-type stories. But when it's a modern day story and hypnotic in effect, I cannot justify it in my mind. But I gave Phillips one more chance. I jumped on Amazon and read everything I could find about the sequel to Angel Harp, called Heather Song. I trusted him from what I had read of his books before, and I wondered if he would possibly tie it all up in a satisfactory way--things must not be what they seemed. But alas, the second book only continued the bizarreness with harp-plucking added to the magic spells.

And I knew that much as I loved Marie and Ian, the sound of the waves and Gwendolyn's amazing skill on my instrument of choice; much as the brogue delighted me, and the Duke interested was time to say goodbye. I had already read ahead in the first book. I knew part of the ending. But letting the sequel go was not an easy decision.

As small as this struggle is for some bibliophiles--that of putting a book down--it is very hard for others. Sometimes it's easy for me, sometimes it's not. But I recognize that I need to be careful what book friends I choose to spend time with, and in the case of nonfiction, what teachers I choose to learn from. Once you've started, the story twines itself around your heartstrings, and cutting them is difficult. Just one more chapter...just one more page...just let me finish it, please.

But Deuteronomy 13:6-11 brought me some new insight in this area.

If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people.  Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.

In other words, if the characters in the book are promoting man-centered ideas and wicked practices, then you need to 'slay' that character with your own hands, and put that book away from you. Then you will send your mind and heart the message that God reigns supreme, and those books that go against the teachings of His Word have no hold upon you. Show the author and character no pity. Do not spare them or shield them, for they must follow God's standards, not make up their own.

How to close those covers is next Friday's topic. There are actually a couple of ways, depending on the type of story. I look forward to sharing those thoughts with you then. But Tuesday's post will be a break from this series for another special post.

Lady Bibliophile


I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.

-Psalm 119:63

The righteous choose their friends carefully,
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
-Proverbs 12:26
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