God and Fiction – A Second Look at Tuck

Yes, the CSFF Blog Tour featuring Tuck by Stephen Lawhead (Thomas Nelson) is over. But in visiting other participating blogs, I saw others address the issue of the spiritual in this story.

In my first look at Tuck, with God in mind, I commented that I felt as if Mr. Lawhead allowed God to be a part of the story as the characters experienced Him. In the end, though, when I did my review, I felt as if the spirituality was thin. And now I think I understand why.

But first, let me mention that other bloggers disagree. For instance, Rachel Starr Thomson felt the story was particularly strong in showing the power of prayer. Robert Treskillard, on the other hand, felt the story did a great job calling attention to sin and the coming judgment, thus serving as a seed-planting story (as opposed to one that also shows the growth and harvest 😉 ). John Otte was just happy that a variety of faith traditions cropped up in the story. One other blogger, I don’t recall who just now, thought the story did a good job showing the pursuit of peace winning out.

Why, with God clearly showing up and with the presence of these spiritual themes, did I feel as if the story was thin and not deep? It has to do with the struggle, the internal conflict of the characters. Since this third volume of the King Raven Trilogy was told primarily from Friar Tuck’s point of view, his untarnished faith came through.

Bran, on the other hand, who endured the burden of leadership with dwindling followers and the disappointment of broken promises and unmet expectations, apparently did struggle. But because the story was about him and not his, readers can only look on and see the outworkings of whatever spiritual issues Bran dealt with. Some bloggers found him arrogant, others found him dark and brooding, but no one said he was sympathetic.

I thought he was. I mean, if I underwent the betrayal he experienced, if I’d invested as much time and put myself at such risk as he did for his northern cousins, then had to walk away empty handed, well, I think I would be a bit brooding too. Yet he came around. When Tuck wanted to pursue peace, Bran came to the point of choosing to do what was right.

But what struggle did he go through to arrive at that place?

From the reader’s vantage point, it was nothing but Angharad’s counsel that put him onto the right path. It seemed easy and quick. Not something I think most of us can identify with. Wouldn’t it be great if we came to the truth and made right decisions with just a word of reminder?

But for most of us, a crisis in our world generates something of a crisis in our souls as well, and with Tuck telling the story, we just didn’t see that struggle in Bran, that crisis in his story. Thus, I came away feeling the theme was thin.

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