CSFF Blog Tour – Beckon by Tom Pawlik, Day 1

I like books that make me think, and this month’s CSFF Blog Tour feature, Tom Pawlik’s recent release, Beckon, did just that. Yes, it was also a good story–especially entertaining for those who like a creepy thrills adventure. I wouldn’t say this book falls into the category of horror, but it has moments that are horrific.

Being as that’s not the type of book I enjoy, I tolerated those parts because there was enough going on that kept me engaged. But more about all that when I do my review later this week. For today I want to discuss an issue. I’m not saying it’s the issue Mr. Pawlik had in mind when he wrote the book, but it’s the issue that jumped out at me.

Unintentionally, to discuss this subject, I may give away plot elements, so consider this a Potential Spoilers Alert.

* * *

When I was growing up, my friends, parents, siblings, and, I’m sure, I as well, parroted an adage that held a lot of truth: two wrongs don’t make a right.

Intentionally or not, Beckon explores this pithy statement. If you can save someone’s life, is it still wrong to do wrong? Might it not be the case that my wrong can cancel out a greater wrong?

In tangent with this topic is the question, is one life more valuable than any other? Is someone who is without family and friends, who is adrift in the world, of less intrinsic value than a leader of a community, than an educated, productive, loved member of a family?

It’s so easy to say, of course, all life is equally valuable. But what if a homeless person had to die to save your wife? Your child? Is it so different from organ transplants if someone else’s “life energy” could provide healing and health to a dying loved one?

One step further, in my mind. Is it really true that all life is equally valuable if we use abortive tissue to develop cures for killer diseases?

Someone may argue that those babies were going to die anyway, so why shouldn’t their tissue be used for good, to save those who would die horrible deaths unless a cure is soon discovered for the disease from which they suffer. In fact, the use of those aborted babies’ tissue gives meaning to their deaths.

But using that same logic, why, then, don’t we “give meaning” to the homeless drifter and carve up his body, doling out his organs to keep “productive members of society” alive?

Society still gets irate at such a thought. Here in SoCal not long ago, a mentally ill homeless man was killed during a confrontation with law enforcement officers. What an uproar! And rightly so, if all life is equally valuable.

That man’s good should not be sacrificed for the sake of someone who happens to live in a house, drive a car, hold a job, and vote. A person is not better because he is better off. Rather, in God’s eyes, life is valuable. He created it. He formed each person in the womb.

It’s not OK for anyone to decide that the life in the womb is less valuable than the life outside the womb–that being too vulnerable to stand up for yourself, to live on your own, makes you less important.

Again, Western society seems to understand that. We go to great links to provide wheelchair access to public places and to give preferential parking to handicapped individuals. We celebrate remarkable feats such as a double limb amputee finishing a marathon or climbing a mountain or disabled individuals participating in the Paralympics. Their lives are valuable, our laws and outpouring of support seem to shout.

Why, then, do we tolerate taking a life to make someone else less burdened or embarrassed? Why do we fertilize eggs and then use the product–the person who results from that union–as nothing more than tissue to do with as we please?

Why aren’t those lives valuable, if, in fact, all life is of equal value?

And yes, Beckon made me think of this subject. What did others reading the story think about? You’ll need to take a look at the articles from the other tour participants (a check mark links to a tour article):

Published in: on May 21, 2012 at 3:30 pm  Comments (5)  
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  1. As always, good thoughts to ponder. No doubt, all life is valuable, but is all life of equal value? Definitely not to us, relatively speaking. We’d save our children, grandchildren, spouse over that of a stranger, even over our own life. I can’t think of a verse that answers the question definitively. God makes choices that save, elevate, heal, protect some lives over those of others. I know its for no intrinsic value in the person blessed, but the choice itself puts a value in the same. The value of grace.


  2. […] A book like Beckon seems to be one of those bridge books–one that readers with varied expectations can enjoy. But don’t take my word for it. Read what others on the tour are saying. You can find links to specific articles at the bottom of the Day 1 post. […]


  3. Bob, I appreciate your thoughtful interaction with this topic. It’s that point of saving loved ones over saving strangers that makes this book compelling, I think. At first it seems so obvious that the antagonist is doing wrong, but when the choice comes down to saving a spouse or saving a stranger, then suddenly the cut-and-dried choice of good over evil isn’t quite as easy.

    I think if it was a matter of taking a loved one out of a burning building over a stranger, then it’s not really a dilemma. You can only save one, so of course, save the one you care about the most. But what about this: the loved one you save will cost the life of a stranger. What then?

    Our society says when it comes to the most vulnerable, the most helpless–unborn infants–that their lives can be sacrificed for the good of, the well-being of a loved one.

    Hence the question, isn’t all life of intrinsic value simply because God created it? Are we allowed to make the sacrifice, a stranger for a loved one?



  4. […] There’s been discussion about the characters, Alzheimer disease, immortality, abortion (here on my blog), body count, arachnophobia, reading at night (or not), spelunking, and more. Without a doubt, this […]


  5. When I was adopting my second baby, the lady who did the home-study wanted to know which person I would save first if there was a fire: my husband who was a quadriplegic, my foster daughter with Downs Syndrome, my adopted son who was eight months old, or the newborn daughter we were adopting. I said I’d grab the one closest to the door and throw him out and then go back for the next one. She thought I’d save my adopted children before I saved my foster daughter. I don’t think I would have done that. She had leukemia and was going to die anyway (and did die a year later) and she was profoundly mentally retarded, and yet, I wouldn’t have felt I had to right to pass her by on my way to get the babies.

    It’s not our choice to make. If God wants to save the babies he can do that without our help. He kept the three in the furnace from being burned. Why would we think he can’t save the ones we love?

    I’m not opposed to doctors and medicine, but trying to prolong life for yourself or someone you love, at the expense of someone else’s life is foolish. It’s the way to lose your life for sure.


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