20 Years Later: Left Behind Leftovers

Left_Behind“The only Bible verse Rayford could quote by heart was Genesis 1:1: ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ He hoped there’d be some corresponding verse at the end of the Bible that said something like, ‘In the end God took all his people to heaven and gave everybody else one more chance.’ But no such luck.”


Last fall I did a series of reviews I entitled, “Books every Christian would be better off NOT reading.” For the most part, I didn’t write full reviews of these books because most of them I haven’t read, nor, to be honest, do I intend to. My observations and warnings were based on excerpts and other reviews I’ve read. The first book I discussed in that series was Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Well, here it is, 20 years after Left Behind was published and my curiosity finally got the better of me; I actually read the first book, and now I have some of my own observations and concerns to point out. Continue reading “20 Years Later: Left Behind Leftovers”

Is Huckleberry Finn Racist?

huckfinn-bookcoverAdventures Of Huckleberry Finn (1884) by Mark Twain

“You don’t know about me, without you have read a book by the name of ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,’ but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth.”


It’s been said that “Literature is the Handmaid of History.” By this statement, the late Mrs. Rosalie Slater meant that literature is a useful tool for teaching and learning history, for seeing how God has worked through the ages in different times and places, and for showing how men thought and acted in those settings. Of course we can see how this applies to works of history and biography, but it is also true of fiction. The writer Henry James defined the novel as a “personal, direct impression of life.” James pointed out that although fictional works are stories of “make-believe,” it is just as much the job of the novelist to convey truth as it is the historian’s. While a fictional story itself may be “made up” and largely a product of the writer’s imagination, it also conveys something about his or her experiences and impressions of life; the characters, ideas, and principles actually exist in the real world. Continue reading “Is Huckleberry Finn Racist?”

A Grandson, And “Son”

Hey, readers and followers, I just wanted to check in and apologize for my lack of posts over the past month or so. My co-worker took a three-week vacation, which has resulted in more hours for me, and at one point I worked nine days straight. Besides having a heavier work schedule, I also became a grandmother for the first time!

grandmaLinda
Me with my newly-born grandson, Joseph Orlando, born April 2nd.

All that to say my time for reading and writing has been very limited, although I did recently manage to finish the fourth and last book of Lois Lowry’s Giver series, Son. Coincidentally, I received Son in the mail the same day my daughter-in-law went into labor. As I was getting ready to head out to the hospital to await the birth of my grandson, I decided I should bring a book to read for the potentially long hours of waiting, and grabbed my new book.

SONIt wasn’t until I opened it up in the Labor & Delivery room and began reading that the appropriateness of my choice struck me. The first two chapters describe a young girl named Claire who, having been selected as a Birthmother for her community, undergoes a difficult delivery by C-section. After the procedure, the “product” of her delivery is taken away to be nurtured and then assigned to a suitable family unit. Claire never overcomes her sense of loss, and becomes determined to find her son and possibly establish a relationship with him. Son is divided into three sections, which are set in three different communities. The first part moved quickly, and the reader begins to recognize who the characters are in relation to the prior books. The middle section dragged a bit, with a little too much tedious detail about Claire’s decision and preparation for setting out to find her son, but the third part wraps up the story nicely. In this book, Lowry ties the characters from The Giver, Gathering Blue and Messenger together in a satisfying way. I do like the strong family ties that Lowry depicts in the last three books, an element which the community in The Giver was intentionally lacking.

A movie adaptation of The Giver was released in August 2014; the official trailer is available on YouTube. While I enjoyed the film and would recommend it, I was frustrated with some of the changes to the story and characters that were made.

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Have you read The Giver and the other books in Lois Lowry’s quartet? What did you think?

A Sneak Peek Behind Enemy Lines: The Screwtape Letters

screwtapeletters-bookcoverThe Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors.”
 

Martin Luther is quoted as stating, “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.” I believe that was one of C. S. Lewis’s purposes for writing The Screwtape Letters. In this creative literary work, Lewis has composed a series of letters from a chief demon named Screwtape to his apprentice, his nephew Wormwood, as he offers him guidance and advice.

Of course the entire work is for the most part based on speculation, for we know very little about how Satan and his cohorts operate or what goes on in the spirit world around. We do know, however, based on Scripture, that Satan is real and that spiritual warfare is ongoing and has been since the fall of Man in Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).  Continue reading “A Sneak Peek Behind Enemy Lines: The Screwtape Letters”

The Making of a Perfect World, Part 2: The Giver

GiverThe Giver by Lois Lowry

“We don’t dare let people make choices of their own…We really have to protect people from wrong choices.”


In my previous article, I talked about Utopia by Sir Thomas More and the concept of utopian societies. Utopia was More’s attempt to critique some of the problems in his society and put forth a challenge for reform, but many of the ideas proposed in his story are far-fetched and impractical. From More’s work, a lot of other utopian and dystopian literature developed and dystopian fiction and films are continually being written.

Dystopia happens to be one of my favorite genres of fiction. So here’s the funny thing: I’m sometimes accused of being a perfectionist by people who know me well, but for some reason, I enjoy reading stories of societies which are far from perfect, even though they were established with that intention. I think I like these stories because as a “perfectionist” I’m also a fixer. If I see something amiss, or something that I think could be improved upon, I just have to jump in and try to remedy the situation. So I can relate to the story characters that see the problems in their culture and are not content to just accept it and go along with society. I also admire characters who are determined to fight evil and injustice, even when it means defying the culture they live in. Continue reading “The Making of a Perfect World, Part 2: The Giver”

The Making of a Perfect World, Part 1: Utopia

Utopia by Sir Thomas More

“The source of happiness is much disputed, among all people, in Utopia.” – Thomas More
 
“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin


One of my favorite genres of literature is dystopia, but before I talk about dystopian fiction, let’s take a look at its predecessor. Most people are familiar with the term utopia, which originated with the fictional work by Thomas More published in 1516. Utopia was written shortly after the discovery of the New World, an event which stimulated the human imagination and brought with it a sense of new possibilities. It can be considered the first English science fiction, as the story describes an unreal place (located in the New World) which could be real (at least hypothetically) in the future. More’s imaginative society represents an ideal one in which many social problems are controlled or eliminated, such as war, crime and poverty, yet its plans for social improvement are in many ways impractical. Ironically, and significantly, the word utopia can literally be translated as “good place” or “no place,” suggesting that the author acknowledged that there is no such thing as a perfect society. Continue reading “The Making of a Perfect World, Part 1: Utopia”