Women As Leaders Of The Church?

It seems obvious to me that the culture and not Scripture has influenced many people to believe that women too can be pastors and elders (would they be call eldresses? πŸ˜‰ ) For over 1900 years, it seems, the Church understood the role of pastor to be reserved for men, but now in these last few decades we have scholars who say that actually all those earlier students of God’s Word, for all those centuries, had it wrong.

Why would we think that God would not correct this error long ago, if in fact it was error? Why, in the first place, did the Holy Spirit lead Paul to write something that for centuries the Church would misunderstand?

In reality, I think the Church for all those centuries understood exactly what God intended — that the role of pastor was reserved for men. Here is Paul’s clear instruction to Timothy:

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Tim 2:11-14)

Paul not only gives the principles the Church is to follow, he gives reasons for it. A woman’s role, in part, is established because of the order of creation. It is also set because Eve was deceived, not Adam.

There are several other issues involved too.

One, Scripture gives clear instructions about the relationship a wife is to have with her husband. He is the head who is to love her sacrificially. She is to give him her respect and submission.

That’s not subservience. Her submission is the same as my putting myself under the authority of a principal when I was a teacher. I may have disagreed with how a certain principal wanted to do things, but in the end, the teacher needs to give way to the principal.

That’s the way any organization must work. Somebody has to be in the hot seat where the buck stops. In a family, that “somebody” is the husband.

Each local church also has a leadership structure, with a pastor and elders taking the responsibility.

So what would happen if a woman was pastor — the head or leader of … her husband, a member of her church, who was to be her head? At one point or the other, the leadership structure God designed for the family or for the church would break down.

There’s another issue. The pastor or episkopΔ“ and the elders were given the role of shepherding the flock. Luke mentioned this in Acts when he recorded Paul’s farewell admonition to the elders in Miletus:

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. (Acts 20:28 – emphasis mine)

Peter goes into more depth in his first letter:

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4 – emphases mine)

Is it coincidental that Peter refers to the pastor and elders as shepherds and Christ as the Chief Shepherd? Clearly not. He is likening their role, in miniature, to Christ’s role — just as Paul did when he addressed husbands and said they were to love their wives like Christ loved the Church. In other words, as the husband is to serve as a type of Christ by his sacrificial love, so the pastor is to serve as a type of Christ in his shepherding role.

We should not minimize this function of the pastor — as one who gives us a glimpse of the head/body relationship we enjoy with Christ.

Apart from specialty cases in which God may indeed call and equip a woman for a time, even as He allowed David to eat the sanctified bread reserved for priests, the teaching of Scripture gives the offices of pastor and elders to men. They are to be humble servants and caretakers of their flock, and women, as fellow servants and fellow heirs, are to join in ministry, just not in the lead role.

Published in: on September 30, 2011 at 7:40 pm  Comments (9)  
Tags: , , , ,

Feminism In The Church, Continued

In some ways, the previous post on this subject was more about the influence of culture on the church than it was about feminism in particular. After reading the comments to that article, I thought perhaps I should address feminism more specifically.

First, my closing paragraph to the previous post may have come across too harshly. I know more than one woman working as a pastor, and I wouldn’t say any of them is covetous of the role of men. In each instance I believe they feel they are doing God’s work, and the pastorate gives them the best opportunity to accomplish this.

Rather, I was referring to the attitude of a nebulous collection of women who believe as the culture at large does — that to be equal with men, women must do all things that men do (with the exceptions of fathering a child and bathrooming in a standing position).

These women who are true feminists have brought their beliefs into their particular church denominations, resulting inevitably in a movement in their direction. Hence, scholars have reexamined the verses that have long been understood to exclude women from the pastorate. Consequently, without adopting the whole feminist package, some women believe that the new interpretation does indeed make way for them to take this leadership role.

In addition, I’ve heard of women on the mission field who, because of the lack of any man knowledgeable in Scripture, have assumed the pastoral role until such time as a qualified man is available. Were those women sinning by stepping into the gap? Should a fledgling church be without teaching because no man is available when a women is?

Those are hard questions, and I might answer them differently today than I would have some years ago.

What comes to mind is fugitive David standing before the High Priest, lying about his need for food, and subsequently receiving the portion meant exclusively for the priests. Sin? Jesus used this very story to justify His disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath when they were hungry.

If it had been anybody else besides Jesus! But no, He who was with the Father when He struck down Uzzah for touching the ark as it nearly tipped over, who said He came to fulfill the Law, seemed to give David a pass for eating the bread of the presence and giving it to those who were with him:

Mark 2:25-26 – And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” (emphases mine)

The operative principle seems to be need over law. After all, that’s why the Jews were allowed, even expected, to pull an animal out of a pit on the Sabbath if it had fallen in. Need.

Bringing this line of thinking back to women and preaching, it seems to me that need might create a mitigating factor that would allow for a woman to act as a pastor.

But let’s face it — in the US there isn’t often a lack of available men to take on the role of pastor.

I’m not here to judge who is or isn’t serving out of need. I’m more interested in the attitude that we in the church are developing that seems to support the idea that a woman ought to be up front just as surely as a man is.

It is this position of leadership, I think, that is at issue.

In case you missed it, in one of his comments to the previous post, Patrick brought up an interesting point — what’s the difference between teaching in a church building and doing what I do here on this blog from time to time? After all, aren’t a preacher and a blogger who writes about spiritual things both elucidating Scripture?

It’s a great question. If we understand “Church” to be the body of believers, not a building, and women are to be silent in the Church, then it seems we are never to speak of spiritual things. But we know from Scripture, that isn’t so.

There were women who served as prophets, for example. And Mary the mother of Jesus offered one of the great praise psalms of all time. The Proverbs 31 superwoman ( πŸ˜‰ ) included teaching in her repertoire: “She opens her mouth in wisdom,/ And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

The point Paul was making in 1 Corinthians 14 when he said women should be silent, seems to me to be uniquely connected with what happens in a church service. After all, most of the chapter deals with how to have an orderly service. Women speaking in that context also is in juxtaposition to submitting to their husbands.

So what’s Paul really saying? It seems to me, his point is that women shouldn’t interrupt the service with their questions or overstep their husband’s authority.

What are we going on about then regarding women and pastors?

Scripture sets out the clear qualifications of a pastor and then of elders. One such requirement was that each must be the husband of one wife (see 1 Tim. 3:2 and 3:12 and Titus 1:6). Not a lot of room there for a woman.

This post is longer than it should be already, so I’ll save for another day why it is important that we look at the bigger picture to understand the importance of this issue.

Published in: on September 29, 2011 at 6:06 pm  Comments (10)  
Tags: , , , ,

Feminism In The Church

Before I launch into what might prove to be a controversial topic, let me tell you that I’m taking part in the Christian Carnival once again. The host this week is All Things New. You’ll find a list of article titles and links in subjects varying from apologetics to devotionals.

The one I submitted this week is Groaning. If you’re not up for a controversial post today, perhaps you’d rather read “Jesus should not be first in your life” or “Gracious Sovereignty” or any of the other fifteen articles available for your edification.

For those of you sticking around, here goes.

– – – – –

Times, they are a-changin’, you may have noticed. This is true in any number of fields, but not less so in the Church. For example you have those of the emerging church persuasion who accuse the Church of being out of touch and irrelevant (sorry, that was from the era when I was a young adult) stagnant and dull. What we need, they say, is to abandon the traditional church in favor of ongoing conversations. We need to re-image Christ, to look at him in light of who we are.

This kind of thinking may explain why our cultural proclivities seem to be creeping into churches — even my Bible-believing evangelical body. We are not immune. No one is. And for that reason, it is important for us to continually examine Scripture to see if these things are so.

The “things” I’m referring to today is feminism in the Church.

Of necessity we need to define terms. When I use “feminism” I have in mind the belief that women are equal to men in all respects, if not superior. Hence there should be no distinction in role or function between men and women.

One blogger wrote “we overwhelmingly are affected by the outside world’s view of women and their role in the church and society rather than that of Jesus or the Bible.” (Interestingly, the majority of this article gives a justification for taking the teaching of Scripture about women and their role in the church and placing it in a cultural context.)

It is this place that we give to the thinking of our culture that disturbs me most. Seemingly we are playing the “keep up with the Joneses” game, and the Joneses are those that make up the mainstream of our culture.

I believe this is the kind of false teaching that the New Testament writers warned against. Paul said to the Colossians that he was laying down doctrine about Christ “so that no one will delude you with persuasive arguments,” and that they were to “See to it that no one takes you captive with philosophy and empty deception, according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

Today we seem all too happy to give in to the persuasive arguments of those who discount Scripture. We seem happy to be captivated by the traditions of men.

I found a fairly clear look at the “BIBLICAL role of women in Christianity” that coincides to a large extent with what I understand the Bible to say. My aim here is not to analyze each point and each Scripture.

Rather, I believe, as another blogger said beautifully in “Christianity v. feminism,” that “Christianity allows women to be women. Allows them their femininity. Allows them their freedom.”

But the culture has said, No, Christianity has taught men to oppress women and keep women from doing and being all they can be.

I don’t doubt that down through time there were religious leaders who taught error in regard to women’s roles. However, that’s true about error in a lot of areas, such as indulgences and renting pew space.

We ought not look at tradition, as Paul said in Colossians, whether that tradition comes from religious or irreligious people. We need to align our beliefs with the sure Word of God.

The Bible is not murky about women and our role. We are equal with men in ministry (see Philippians 4:3b “…these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life”), equal in salvation (see Galatians 3:28 “there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”), and unique in our role (see 1 Cor. 14:34a “The women are to keep silent in the churches”). Not less than but different from men.

Athletes understand this perhaps better than anyone else. In football there are “glamor” positions — quarterback, running backs, and receivers. But without linemen, the guys who literally do the heavy lifting, those in the glamor roles go nowhere. The quarterback gets sacked, the running backs get thrown for a loss, and the receivers never see the ball.

The point is, women are biologically different from men and as Scripture reminds us, we came into the creation process after Man. In God’s perfect plan, He therefore assigned men to the “glamor” positions in the Church. Not all men, of course.

Some men are to be pastors and elders, and other men are to be parking lot attendants. Are the latter to be filled with envy because they don’t have the glamor positions? Clearly not.

Why, then, should we assume that it’s OK for women to covet the glamor positions? And covet is exactly what it is.

Our culture has told us we should have something Scripture says is not meant for us. Ooooohh, sounds so Garden of Eden-ish, doesn’t it?

Published in: on September 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm  Comments (21)  
Tags: , , , , ,

Learning From Agents

This post contains both advice and an announcement. Some while ago a writer friend mentioned a particular agent who blogged. After reading a few posts, I subscribed to his blog because I realized I was getting insider information.

Over time I began to follow a half dozen or more agents, some representing clients only to the general market and some to the Christian. At least one represents to both.

Reading what these agents have to say has been one of the most helpful things I’ve done recently. Writers are always longing to have an industry professional give them some feedback over their writing. The information in these blogs is the next best thing.

Here are the agents whose blogs I read more often than not: Kristin Nelson of the Nelson Literary Agency, Janet Reid and Query Shark of FinePrint Literary Management, Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary Agency, Steve Laube and company of the Steve Laube Agency, Jessica Faust and company of BookEnds, LLC; Janet Grant and company of Books and Such.

If you haven’t hung out on agent blogs, I encourage you to pick one or two and give it a try. See if you don’t glean some pointers fairly soon.

From one of those I read, I took a piece of advice recently which brings me to the announcement portion of this post. The advice was for writers to post more than an excerpt of their novel on their web site.

The thinking is that an agent who might be looking at your site and who might read your excerpt needs a context in which to put the writing sample. To have any clear sense if this is something they might be interested in, there are some basic things that would be helpful, like the genre and premise (I’d give you the link to the article, but I’ve forgotten who wrote it! πŸ™„ ).

I stopped reading right then and came here to A Christian Worldview of Fiction, to the page where I have my novel excerpt — the first chapter of HUNTED, Book One of The Lore of Efrathah, and I immediately updated it to include the things the agent suggested. Please feel free to take a look if you’re interested, then come back here if you’d like to leave a comment (I have comments off for that page).

Finally, don’t forget to vote in the CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award poll.

Published in: on September 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm  Comments (9)  
Tags: , , ,

Used To Losing

This weekend some football coach or player was being interviewed, and he said something like, Losing hurts more than winning feels good. This, he concluded, was what separated champions from the pack.

I don’t think so.

My mind went first to my growing up years. As the youngest in my family, I didn’t experience a lot of winning, whether it was board games or the outdoor games kids used to play, like Mother May I or tag. Later my family got a ping pong table, and playing that game became one of my all-time favorite activities, though I seldom won.

Why? Why would I play and be content to lose? Well, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t content to lose, I just did it very well. πŸ˜‰

Actually losing pushed me to improve.

Later when I became a coach, there were losses my teams took that I knew were a good thing. By losing we faced our own vulnerability. We knew where we needed to improve. And we had more drive to get better.

Easy victories can be deadly, I think. They can foster pride. After all, how good am I if I won so convincingly with such little effort?

That kind of thinking is sure to bring defeat down the road.

Easy wins can also mask problems. How do I know where I am weak if what I am doing seems to be working so well? How do I know what area to spend extra time practicing and improving?

In many respects losing is like the suffering the Bible indicates will be a part of the Christian’s experience. This from Paul:

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Phil 3:8-10 – emphasis mine).

The point is, however, that losing or suffering is not to be without purpose. For me as a child, I learned with every loss. I grew in determination and steadfastness. Losses gave me something that winning couldn’t. So too with suffering.

In the passage above, Paul spelled it out clearly: he said he suffered the loss of all things “so that I may gain Christ.” Wow! Gaining Christ seems well worth losing out on some temporal pleasure.

Especially because I’ve left out the best part. I mean, being conformed to Christ’s death is the “taking up the cross” part of discipleship, but it’s not an end in itself. Here’s what Paul said next:

in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

I know it may sound strange, but I’m thankful for all that losing I did when I was younger. I can’t help but think God has used it to help me understand His application of suffering. Not that winners can’t learn the value of suffering, too, but it might be a little harder for them, especially if they hate losing more than they love winning.

Me, I love the winning part and nothing can be sweeter than gaining Christ!

Published in: on September 26, 2011 at 6:20 pm  Comments Off on Used To Losing  
Tags: , , , ,

CSFF Blog Tour – Monster Wrap

All good things must come to an end, and so did our tour for Andrew Peterson’s The Monster In The Hollows. Twenty-eight bloggers and fifty-four posts (and still counting) all discussing this children’s book! And fortunately all this buzz is not wasted on an insignificant work.

But you can learn this for yourself simply by checking out the posts of the tour participants eligible for the September CSFF Top Tour Blogger Award. And they are, with links to their tour posts, in alphabetical order:

And now it is time to vote! You have until poll closing time — midnight, Monday, October 3.


This world is groaning. It’s the weight of sin that causes it, and it’s been going on for … well, since Eve believed Satan over God.

I can’t help but wonder, though, if we as human beings aren’t more aware of the groaning than at any point in history. Terrorism has people across the globe on heightened alert. War and rebellion are tearing nations apart. Famine is on the increase, and the economy of the rich countries is in a shambles. Add to all this the earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and Japan; the tornadoes and flooding in the Midwestern US, the recent hurricane on the East coast; the tsunami that devastated an already devastated area in Japan.

We’re groaning.

Professing Christians are leaving the church. Government — democratic government that was supposed to have the necessary checks and balances — is self-serving if not corrupt. Marriage is being redefined. In other words, civilized institutions are crumbling.

We’re groaning.

The weight of sin is too big. Drug addiction isn’t lessening. Anxiety isn’t disappearing no matter how much we medicate. Neither is depression. Interpersonal conflicts haven’t ceased. In fact divorce is still a growing problem no matter that so many people now practice at marriage before making “lifetime” vows. Abuse continues or perhaps is on the increase. Child slavery and sex trafficking are problems that seem without end.

We’re groaning.

Worst of all, who can we trust? The person we love the most is the person who shatters our hopes and betrays us by their unfaithfulness.

We are indeed groaning.

Should I go on to mention cancer or AIDS or the fears of a worldwide pandemic? I suspect it’s not necessary.

At every turn, we’re groaning.

Like any number of crises recorded in the Bible, God is standing with open arms saying, Your way leads to destruction. My way leads to life.

Over and over stiff-necked people ignored Him or shook their fists in His face, denying His right to rule. So it seems, we’re doing today.

We think if we just get the right person in the White House, if we only raise taxes or cut spending, if we only marry the right guy or girl, pass this piece of legislation or that, solve one key problem then another, use this green technology or drill that oil well, then, at last, the world will come round aright.

In that foolish thinking, we are ignoring the One who wants us to fix our eyes on His Son.

“See to it,” Paul said to the Colossians, “that no one takes you captive through philosophy or empty deception according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary principles of this world, rather than according to Christ.”

The philosophy and empty deception of our day says we can solve our own problems, that we don’t need anything outside ourselves. We have the power within us.

And yet, with all this great power within ( πŸ™„ ), we don’t seem any closer to bringing the groaning to an end. We’re looking in the wrong places.

There isn’t a chemical high or an alcohol-induced haze that will mask the pain long enough, there isn’t a movie or video game or concert or ballgame that will distract us sufficiently, there isn’t a better relationship that will heal our shattered heart.

Except the one God offers through Christ Jesus. He is our Hope, and He is our Salvation.

In Him the groaning will one day come to an end.

Published in: on September 22, 2011 at 6:18 pm  Comments (4)  
Tags: , , , ,

The Monster In The Hollows, CSFF Blog Tour Day 3 – A Review

Andrew Peterson doodled this picture of Leeli in the midst of writing The Monster In The Hollows

Fun aside, important meanings aside, is The Monster In The Hollows (Rabbit Room Press) a book you should buy? If you’ve visited other CSFF Blog Tour participants this week, you know there is universal acclaim for this book, within a range of an enjoyable read to an inevitable classic. But what does that tell you?

Reviews are as good as the reliability you ascribe to them. It’s good to know a reviewer’s standards and tastes. The closer they are to your own, the more reliable the review.

But when you see reviewers of different strips all agreeing, that says something powerful. What I find especially interesting is that tour participants enjoyed this book for different reasons and on different levels. Some of us think it’s light and fun and full of humor. Some think this one was the darkest and most adult of the Saga books so far. Some were captured by the artistry, others by the themes. Some cried, others laughed. But regardless, the reading experience seems to have been universally enjoyable. Here are some of the most recent “don’t miss” posts.

  • Thomas Clayton Booher voices the “it’s a classic” opinion in his day three post, together with an excellent look at why adults read children’s fiction.
  • Shannon McDermott gives a series analogy of one of the secondary characters — Sock Man Peet who is actually Artham Wingfeather — explaining how a character can capture the hearts of readers.
  • Sarah Sawyer discusses the use of the arts in The Wingfeather Saga. Very appropriate since Andrew himself is a singer/songwriter and artist as well as a writer.
  • As she did with book one, Nichole White reviewed the second in the Saga. What marks this as special is the way she weaved her own reading experience into the article. I experienced the delight all over again as I followed her from page one to the days of contemplation after reaching the end.

With all these great posts for you to read, I’ll keep my review brief.

The Story. The Igibys sail the Dark Sea of Darkness to reach the Green Hollows where Nia Igiby grew up with her crusty pirate father, Podo Igiby and her mother, now deceased. After surviving a harrowing attack, they are initially welcomed warmly by the Hollowsfolk — until Nia introduces her son, Kalmar Wingfeather, heir to the throne of Anniera and outwardly still very much a Grey Fang.

When Nia invokes an old tradition and forces the hand of the Keeper and the chiefs of the Hollows, the Igiby/Wingfeathers are allowed to take refuge in this last stronghold standing against Gnag the Nameless.

If only the Hollowsfolk didn’t stare at Kalmar as if he were a monster. If only the brutish bully at the school didn’t persist on taunting him. If only the Cloven loose from the Blackwoods didn’t seem to be after the Igiby children. If only the Cloven was the only thing after them.

Strengths. Humor. Depth. Suspense. Unpredictable twists. Lovable characters. Artistry. Word play. The Monster In The Hollows is a great read-aloud book, perfect for a family with children twelve and under. It’s a great individual read for people ten and up. Adults will love it just as much as kids and maybe more.

This is the kind of book and series that children will grow up and re-read, then read aloud to their kids. It will be loved and praised and given as gifts over and over again. This is a keeper.

Weaknesses. For all that, you’d think I wouldn’t have anything to say here in the “weakness” section of the review. I do, however. As I’ve commented elsewhere during the tour, I think Andrew Peterson is a step away from C. S. Lewis. He has the talent and the imagination and the depth and the joy. He has the voice — a wonderful storyteller quality that makes readers feel like they’re cozying up around a fire or snuggled under the covers as a master tells a tale of monsters and love and life.

OK, this doesn’t sound like “weaknesses,” I realize. Here’s what I think can move Andrew to the next level, the breakout level where readers of all stripes — Christians, grannies, teens, those wary of religion, book lovers — everyone with a passion for a good story, will clamor for his next book. It’s a little thing really. I believe in this climate of literature the young adult in the young adult novel needs to be the agent making things happen.

In Monster, the main character, Janner, has a clear desire — he wants to live at peace and have as normal a life as possible. The problem is, his circumstances don’t allow him to do anything to try and achieve what he wants. Hence his role for much of the book is passive or reactive.

The thing is, all the characters are delightful. I’m pulling for Leeli as much as I am Janner. I want Nia to find happiness, too. I want Kalmar to grow into his role as the future kind and to find acceptance in the Hollows.

I have to wonder, however, how much better the story would be if the main character were the main agent. The best part of book two, North! Or Be Eaten, in my opinion, was the section in which Janner, separated from his family, needed to take action or accept his fate as a Fork Factory tool. I was in his corner cheering him on and fearing that his every decision would lead to a worse situation than the already hopeless one he was in. It was compelling.

The parts I loved most in Monster were also places where Janner acted with heroism. As I see it, there needs to be more of such — the main character going after what he wants and meeting opposition, failing, and trying again, failing, and trying something new.

Andrew is such a gifted writer that his many strengths carry the day even when the main character seems passive. Eventually other beloved characters take action, and the story progresses to a fitting climax.

Recommendation. Fantasy lovers of all ages should buy this book. Parents or teachers looking for a read-aloud should buy this book. Adults looking for a gift for their ten to twelve year old son or daughter, niece or nephew, granddaughter or grandson, should buy this book. In actuality, they should all buy the first and second of the series too and start from the beginning. The Wingfeather Saga is a keeper. Then keep a look out for the conclusion of the series, The Warden And The Wolf King.

OK, so I didn’t do a particularly good job of making this review short. Guess that means you all can have your money back. πŸ˜‰

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

The Monster In The Hollows, CSFF Blog Tour Day 2 – Or, Humor Makes It Fun

The CSFF Blog Tour for Andrew Peterson’s The Monster In The Hollows (Rabbit Room Press) is in full swing. Before I address today’s topic, let me mention a couple notable posts I’ve seen:

  • Nicole White wrote an excellent review of the first book in The Wingfeather Saga, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness — not just your quicky summary with an endorsement. She gives you a real flavor of the book.
  • One of CSFF’s newest members, Marzabeth, shares a note from Andrew Peterson to explain why she is a supporter of his writing.

You can see the entire list of participants and links to their posts at the end of my first article, The Monster In The Hollows, CSFF Blog Tour Day 1 – Or Grey Fangs And The Church.

One of the things that endears readers to Andrew Peterson’s books is his use of humor. Some bloggers have called The Windfeather Saga or The Monster In The Hollows in particular, light. I believe that’s an allusion to the humor which makes them fun and which tempers the very serious themes running through them.

The most obvious use of humor is what I call “boy humor” because, well, boys primarily enjoy these jokes, though men with the hearts of boys undoubtedly love them too. “Jokes” does not mean to suggest that The Wingfeather Saga is filled with knock-knock jokes or tales of chickens crossing various roads. Rather the characters themselves do or say things that are funny as part of how they live life and do what they do.

Perhaps the humor in On The Edge Of The Dark Sea Of Darkness seemed more self-aware, what with the various footnotes and appendixes. Still, there were places where boys were being boys, enjoying the humor that boys share with each other. The Monster In The Hollows utilizes that type of humor too. Here’s an example:

[Oscar] spat, but instead of a nice, dense, seaworthy glob plopping into the sea, it was a spray of white spittle, some of which landed on Podo’s arm.

“Keep practicin’, old friend,” Podo said, wiping it off. “Make sure ye get the bubbles out before ye spit. And remember, it helps if ye snort. Improves the consistency. Watch.”

Podo reared back and snorted so long and loud that the whole crew took notice. They watched with admiration as Podo launched a dollop of spit that sailed an astonishing distance before splooshing into the waves. The Kimerans nodded and muttered their approval.

Podo wiped his mouth. “Sorry, lass. Ye have to seize the teachable moments, you know. Carry on.”

This kind of in-story humor combined with wonderful word inventiveness, much of which came to the forefront in the middle of the novel when the Igiby/Wingfeather children were becoming acquainted with the Guildling Hall and Institute for Hollish Learning — school (“Hollish” being the adjective used for all things related to the Hollows). Here’s a flavor:

When they had … settled [Leeli] in the puppy wing of the houndry, [Guildmadam] Olumphia Groundwich continued the tour with Janner and Kalmar. She showed them the juicery … Then they visited the rockwright class, the bookbindery (which Janner especially liked), the boatery, the cookery (which Kalmar especially liked), and the needlery, where one learned to make dresses and quilts (which both boys especially disliked).

“Your father loved to sail, or so I’ve heard,” Olumphia said. “I’d show you the sailery, but it’s held at the waterfront and is reserved for our oldest students.”

Later the children discover that part of their day will be spent in P. T. or “Pummelry Training. It’s where everybody’s racing and wrestling and punching.”

Later still when Janner and Kalmar join the Durgan Guild, they receive their first lesson in sneakery.

And then there is Oscar and the “indibnible honor” he had of meeting Bonifer, the once adviser to the king.

On the word play goes, each alteration not enough to disguise the meaning and just enough to make the word more interesting and noticeable. Eventually I found myself imitating wordsmithery and commented on someone’s site about bloggery or some similar thing. All that fun has a way of spilling out. πŸ˜€

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

The Monster In The Hollows, CSFF Blog Tour Day 1 – Or Grey Fangs And The Church

The CSFF Blog Tour feature for the month of September is The Monster In The Hollows, Book Three of The Wingfeather Saga (Rabbit Room Press), a middle grade novel by Andrew Peterson. How interesting (and completely unplanned), considering that it is this same book that 39% of those voting in the “It’s All In The Opening” poll chose as the one that caught their interest and made them want to read more. I definitely concur with the majority on this one.

The Monster In The Hollows is the delightful continuation of the series, not as dark as book two and more focused than book one. In calling the book delightful and not as dark as the previous installment in The Wingfeather Saga, I am not saying this one is a lightweight.

As you can tell by the title of this post, I believe there are some serious implications for the Christian Church tucked away in this engaging children’s book.

No, Andrew was not writing an allegory, but there are clear parallels with the Green Hollows and the Church, so it should be evident that the story has something important to say to believers about … believers.

Parallels? In the early chapters, we learn that the Green Hollows toward which the Igiby family is sailing have successfully turned away every attempt of the Fangs and Gnag the Nameless to overrun them. In other words, the Hollows is a community dedicated to standing against evil, dedicated to keeping it at bay.

In fact, this dedication is the foundation for the central conflict since Kalmar, heir to the throne of the fallen Isle of Anniera, and one of the Igiby children seeking refuge in the Hollows, is a Grey Fang. Or had been.

Without giving any spoilers or any other details, I think the picture is clear. Of course, Andrew doesn’t name the Church. The Hollows could be any community dedicated to standing against evil, such as … such as … such as … Well, that’s it, isn’t it. Evil is something not many stand against.

I suppose my conclusion that Gnag the Nameless and the Fangs stand for evil requires some interpretation on my part, but again, their actions make this rather self-evident — kidnapping children is evil, turning humans into beasts is evil.

One of the questions that the book generates is of itself a reversal. We’re used to thinking about how we are to treat a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but what are we to do with a sheep in wolf’s clothing? Now plug that question into the church, and I think you can see why I think this book has something to say to Christians today.

There’s another larger issue, but to mention that would indeed be giving the ultimate spoiler (to put it bluntly, it would ruin the story). Suffice it to say, I believe The Monster In The Hollows is a gentle slap-down of the Church. Or maybe a caution, or a challenge.

I guess I’m a little defensive about the Church these days. So many claim to be a part of us and are not. And so many think the Church is to be something it is not. It’s hard for it not be get a little battered in the fray. On top of that, what usually happens in the process is that Jesus Christ’s name gets tainted.

The truth about the Church is that as the bride of Christ we are to be presented before God holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Col. 1:22). But along with that truth is the reality that we are Romans 7 sinners, saved by grace but nevertheless struggling to do what we ought to do and eagerly doing what we ought not to do.

In that regard, perhaps a cautionary tale is just right.

Take some time this week to see what others on the blog tour have to say about The Monster In The Hollows:

A check mark links to a tour post.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

%d bloggers like this: