Decision Making


Whether we like it or not, we all need to make decisions of one kind or another. Some choices, like when to get up in the morning or whether to shower before heading out the door, don’t seem like decisions any more because we’ve done them so long they’ve become a habit.

Mixed in with those automatic decisions are hundreds of smaller ones we make without realizing we are. Do I stop three feet behind the car in front of me or seven? Do I wear the blue or the black? Do I have a piece of toast with my cereal or not? Do I stop at the post office on my way to work or after? Do I take a jacket? And on and on.

Besides these daily, almost trivial decisions, are the Big Decisions of Life—who to marry, what school to attend, what job to apply for. Then there are the life changing decisions—will I read God’s Word today? Who should I pray for? How should I pray?

Interestingly, the Old Testament gives us three kings of Israel who model different decision-making styles. First was King David. He repeatedly went to God and asked for specific leading. Should he go up against this army, should he stay in that city? In return, God answered him quite specifically, at one point even giving instructions about setting up an ambush.

David wasn’t perfect. He didn’t ask God about how he should bring the ark into the place he prepared for it, for example, and a man died as a result. But on the whole, as God indicated, David was a man after God’s own heart. Despite his sin with Bathsheba and the resulting death of her husband, God said David’s heart was “wholly devoted to the Lord his God” and that he followed the Lord fully.

1 Samuel 17 tells us “the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day [of his anointing] forward.” David, then, had the Spirit of God and he inquired of God. He remained faithful to God, loving and serving Him to the end.

His son Solomon who took the throne next, encountered God and when given the opportunity to ask for anything he desired, asked for wisdom. God granted that request, but nowhere does Scripture say His Spirit came upon Solomon. He, too, made mistakes, marrying foreign women and setting up places of worship for their gods. When he was confronted, he did not repent as David had, but remained resistant. In summary, he had God’s wisdom, but he relied on himself. As a result of his decisions, he brought God’s displeasure.

The third king is Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. He was confronted with a decision right away–should he lighten the load of servitude on the people as they asked? He had the elders who counseled his father and he asked them what he should do. Yes, lighten the burden, they advised. Apparently Rehoboam didn’t like that answer because he turned around and asked a group of counselors his own age. Be tougher than your father, they said. And that’s the path Rehoboam decided to follow. The result of that decision was civil war.

Three kings. Three methods of decision making:

  • David, filled with God’s Spirit, inquired of God.
  • Solomon, gifted with God’s wisdom, followed the influence of his wives
  • Rehoboam, provided with the counsel of elders, listened to the counselors who told him what he wanted to hear

The most apparent thing in the decision-making process of these kings seems to me to be whether or not they were filled with God’s Spirit.

It’s instructive to look at a fourth king at this point—King Saul. Scripture tells us the Spirit of God also came upon him, though He did not stay. Why? Saul inquired of God, heard what He had to say, then did as he pleased. In practice he behaved more like Rehoboam than like David.

Decision making? I’d say David should be the model. Though he was far from perfect, he had a right relationship with God, and more often than not he asked God what he was to do. When he sinned, he repented and turned from his wicked ways. As a result, his life is marked largely by trust and obedience.

This post is an edited version of one that first appeared here in November 2012.

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And Then There Was Peace


Gideon004I’m slow on the uptake at times. Until recently I thought Israel, prior to becoming a kingdom, only had a judge when they needed to be rescued from an oppressor. Hence the judges were, in essence, military heroes, but little else.

Except, I noticed as I read from Judges 4 that Deborah was judging Israel before God called her to facilitate the end of the oppression of Jabin king of Canaan.

Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time. She used to sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel came up to her for judgment. (Judges 4:4-5, emphasis added)

Finally, as I read further, something clicked inside my head. The book records a small group of judges who don’t have military credentials. I’d always thought Scripture skipped who they fought against and how long Israel was in bondage to these unnamed oppressors. But no.

Those judges didn’t come to their position in response to the need to free Israel from oppression. They simply were the designated judges that presided over the nation for those short years.

So apparently God selected judges throughout Israel’s pre-king years, not as military heroes, as I used to think, but as judges. (Imagine that!) They were to be the leaders of the nation, the ones who, like Moses before them, arbitrated between the people. No longer did leading include heading up the caravan of people traveling through the wilderness (as Moses had) or even conducting a military campaign (as Joshua had), though many of the judges did the latter.

In reality, the judges were God’s representative to the nation. Interestingly, many of them did free Israel from foreign oppression, but afterwards, they continued to judge the nation. For example, Gideon judged Israel for forty years after God used him and the measly three hundred to free the people from the iron fist of Midian. Before him, Deborah judged Israel for another forty years once she and Barak had freed the nation.

And the four who weren’t military leaders? They were in charge for a total of forty-seven years. Three consecutive judges, right before Samson, held the judgeship for seven, ten, and eight years respectively. So, for twenty-five years Israel knew peace.

Until they didn’t.

I’m not sure how the whole judge thing worked. Deborah, we know, stayed in one place and people came to her. But did people from the far away tribes make that trek? And what happened when God “gave them into the hands” of oppressors? Did that mean He did not choose a judge for that period of time? And how was the judge chosen?

We know God spoke to Gideon and Samuel. Deborah was a prophetess, so God spoke to her as well. Samson was set apart in his mother’s womb, and the Spirit of God came upon him when he needed superhuman strength, but did he actually judge the nation? Did God call him to do so? And what about the others—Othniel and Ehud and Shamgar and the rest—how were they chosen? Scripture doesn’t say.

So the process isn’t clear. Who exactly was in charge during those years?

The question comes to mind because after periods of peace, inevitably Judges records a verse like 13:1—“Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD, so that the LORD gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years.”

But when, exactly did the people do this evil? The oppression came as a result of the evil, so the doing of evil must have come during those years of peace.

I’m sure Israel wanted peace. They had put up with Moab and Midian on the east, the Canaanites in the north, and the Philistines in the west. At one point they were nearly starved off their land as the Midianites burned their crops right before harvest and killed off their livestock.

War was . . . well, you know what war is, and Israel lived through it over and over and over. But because of it, they turned to God and cried out for Him to rescue them. It was during peace that they turned their backs on Him and worshiped other gods.

So peace and prosperity and abundance are things we long for, things we strive for, things we enjoy. But in oppression, we call out to God.

So which is actually better for us?

I maintain it’s not the situation we’re in that is better for us or worse, though history seems to argue against me. I think it’s our heart attitude. Paul said he’d learned to be content in whatever circumstance he was in:

I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Phil. 4:12-13)

I’d rather have peace than oppression, prosperity than humble means, but do I want peace and prosperity more than I want Jesus? Do I want to know God and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings?

Peace actually tests our hearts to see if we want what tastes good and looks pleasing to the eye and promises to make us wise, more than we want to take up our cross and follow Jesus. Peace, more than oppression, then, should bring us to our knees praying for God to rescue us from the dominion of darkness, because the temptation of our souls is a bigger deal than the oppression of our bodies.

This post is an edited version of one that first appeared here in October 2014.

Published in: on October 26, 2016 at 5:45 pm  Comments (1)  
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Morally Flawed . . . Yet Bound For Heaven?


1395122_sunburst_in_cloudy_skyI read two intriguing articles today, and yet when I put them together, the picture I see is rather murky. The first, “Why so many people–including scientists–suddenly believe in an afterlife,” is a lengthy look at the attitude of western culture toward the afterlife.

In a poll taken in the US in 2011, 81% said they believed in heaven and 71% believed in hell. Honestly, that second number surprised me because it was so high. A 2010 Canadian poll indicated half believed in heaven and fewer than a third believed in hell. That’s closer to what I expected.

Apparently, with the increase in the number of near-death experiences–a result of advanced technology that brings people back after their physical functions qualify them as dead–there have also been an increase in reports about those experiences, the majority recounting details we normally associate with heaven.

More and more people are convinced, apparently, that heaven does actually exist. Even Harvard-trained neurosurgeon Eben Alexander who wrote Proof of Heaven, the account of his own near-death experience, has defied his scientific community, declaring that his anecdotal account is evidence of the afterlife.

And not just any old afterlife. It seems the majority of these experiences show a peaceful, loving place, without judgment.

Segue to the second article, one discussing another trend–that of stories with anti-heroes instead of heroes: “The Rise of the Anti-Hero.” In this piece, the author, Jonathan Michael, identifies a new love for characters in our entertainment who are flawed. Some, such as the protagonist in the TV show 24, do bad things for a good end. Others, however, are drunks or cheats or vengeful, and the audience doesn’t seem to mind, or is willing to forgive. Michael explains this:

Characters who shine as morally pure and upright don’t ring true to us anymore, because it’s not who we see around us in the world. Neither is it what we see when we look in the mirror.

My first thought was, When have we ever seen morally pure and upright around us or in the mirror? However, I think we used to be ashamed at these moral failings, our own and our society’s. Now we seem to have a higher value–that of authenticity. You can be the scum on the bottom of someone’s shoe, but good for you, you admit who you are! The only shame is in trying to pretend you’re better than you are.

Now, I’m left with putting these two articles together. From bottom to top this is what I find: we acknowledge and even embrace the fact that none of us is morally pure, but we believe in heaven, more than in hell. Which implies, no matter what happens in this life, there’s happiness waiting in the next one.

This view dovetails with the beliefs of such universalists as Rob Bell and Paul Young. It also fits in so well with the popular message going out to kids: Everyone’s a winner. You show up, you play. You play, you get a trophy.

So why wouldn’t we think we’re all going to heaven, no matter how we lived our lives?

Of course, the real secret is that how we live our lives isn’t the factor that determines our destiny. So by completely missing the target, most people have actually knocked away a false premise that haunted Western culture for a good long time: that by doing good we can earn our way to heaven.

However, today’s popular conclusion–that we don’t need to earn our way because heaven will be ours even though we didn’t do anything to deserve it–is equally false.

Unfortunately, metaphysics isn’t like algebra in which two negatives make a positive. There really is a right and no amount of positive thought can change it, no number of witnesses glimpsing into heaven, can undo it.

Honestly, I find it encouraging that so many people believe in heaven. I even find it encouraging that apparently people recognize themselves to be morally flawed. That’s the perfect set up actually for the critical question: how do morally flawed people end up in a morally perfect place?

But that immediately creates the question: do people who believe in heaven believe it to be a morally perfect place? If not, then I wonder what makes it heaven. I mean, if people can still lie, cheat, steal, and kill, what makes it a desirable place to spend eternity?

And if morally flawed people can’t do those morally flawed things, what keeps them from it? I mean we haven’t been so successful at stopping rape and murder and war and slavery in the here and now. What will make a difference then?

But lets say we agree that heaven is a morally perfect place, how is it that any of us deserve to be there? I think that’s the going assumption–not that we’ve done anything special but that by our very existence we ARE special. We deserve heaven . . . morally flawed though we may be.

Anyone else see a problem with this line of thought?

The problem is, until we get rid of this “we deserve” attitude, we won’t be interested in the solution to the dilemma of squeezing morally imperfect people into a morally perfect place. Oh, yeah, with a morally perfect God as the sovereign ruler.

Published in: on May 14, 2013 at 6:42 pm  Comments Off on Morally Flawed . . . Yet Bound For Heaven?  
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Decision Making


Whether we like it or not, we all need to make decisions of one kind or another. Some choices, like when to get up in the morning or whether to shower before heading out the door, don’t seem like decisions any more because we’ve done them so long they’ve become a habit.

Mixed in with those automatic decisions are hundreds of smaller ones we make without realizing we are. Do I stop three feet behind the car in front of me or seven? Do I wear the blue or the black? Do I have a piece of toast with my cereal or not? Do I stop at the post office on my way to work or after? Do I take a jacket? And on and on.

Besides these daily, almost trivial decisions, are the Big Decisions of Life–who to marry, what school to attend, what job to apply for. Then there are the life changing decisions–will I read God’s Word today? Who should I pray for? How should I pray?

Interestingly, the Old Testament gives us three kings of Israel who model different decision-making styles. First was King David. He repeatedly went to God and asked for specific leading. Should he go up against this army, should he stay in that city? In return, God answered him quite specifically, at one point even giving instructions about setting up an ambush.

David wasn’t perfect. He didn’t ask God about how he should bring the ark into the place he prepared for it, for example, and a man died as a result. But on the whole, as God indicated, David was a man after God’s own heart. Despite his sin with Bathsheba and the resulting death of her husband, God said David’s heart was “wholly devoted to the Lord his God” and that he followed the Lord fully.

1 Samuel 17 tells us “the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon David from that day [of his anointing] forward.” David, then, had the Spirit of God and he inquired of God. He remained faithful to God, loving and serving Him to the end.

His son Solomon who took the throne next, encountered God and when given the opportunity to ask for anything he desired, asked for wisdom. God granted that request, but nowhere does Scripture say His Spirit came upon Solomon. He, too, made mistakes, marrying foreign women and setting up places of worship for their gods. When he was confronted, he did not repent as David had, but remained resistant. In summary, he had God’s wisdom, but he relied on himself. As a result of his decisions, he brought God’s displeasure.

The third king is Rehoboam, Solomon’s son. He was confronted with a decision right away–should he lighten the load of servitude on the people as they asked? He had the elders who counseled his father and he asked them what he should do. Yes, lighten the burden, they advised. Apparently Rehoboam didn’t like that answer because he turned around and asked a group of counselors his own age. Be tougher than your father, they said. And that’s the path Rehoboam decided to follow. The result of that decision was civil war.

Three kings. Three methods of decision making:

  • David, filled with God’s Spirit, inquired of God.
  • Solomon, gifted with God’s wisdom, followed the influence of his wives
  • Rehoboam, provided with the counsel of elders, listened to the counselors who told him what he wanted to hear

The most apparent thing in the decision-making process of these kings seems to me to be whether or not they were filled with God’s Spirit.

It’s instructive to look at a fourth king at this point–King Saul. Scripture tells us the Spirit of God also came upon him, though He did not stay. Why? Saul inquired of God, heard what He had to say, then did as he pleased. In practice he behaved more like Rehoboam than like David.

Decision making? I’d say David should be the model. First he had a right relationship with God, and then he more often than not asked God what he was to do. In the end, he trusted and obeyed.

Who’s Your Hero? – A Poll


I suspect we all have people we look up to and admire, ones we want to emulate. I’m curious especially about spiritual heroes, specifically ones in the Bible. So let’s do a little investigating via a poll.

You may vote for as many as three, and if you don’t see your hero listed, you may write that person into the mix.

Thanks for taking part. Feel free to add a note in the comments to explain why you voted as you did. Also let your Facebook friends or Twitter followers know about the poll so they can take part, too — any time between now and the end of June. I’m looking forward to the results. 😀

Published in: on May 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm  Comments (12)  
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Who Is A Hero Of The Faith?


I received a comment to my last post from Fred Warren that started me thinking. In part, he said,

I think Lewis would recoil at the suggestion that he is a “Hero of the Faith,” insisting instead that he is merely a “sinner saved by grace.”

I answered that I doubt most of the people we think of — and here I had the list of people in Hebrews 11 in mind — would have considered themselves as “heroes of the faith.”

But what qualifies one to be considered a hero of the faith?

I was thinking about “hero,” period. The other day a four-year-old called 9-1-1 when his dad cut himself severely (could have bled to death). He was called a hero.

And the staffer who helped the Arizona senator who’d been shot was called a hero, though he said he wasn’t.

Captain Sully Sullenberger who safely landed his plane in the river, saving everyone aboard, was called a hero. But so was the man some years earlier who climbed out of a plane that crashed into the water, only to dive back in and save two others before he himself perished.

Is saving life what qualifies as hero status? Or is it surviving horrific circumstances? Some called the Chilean miners trapped for months below the surface, heroes.

But this post is really about heroes of the faith — the Christian faith. Is Jim Elliot a hero of the faith because he died in his effort to tell the Waodani people about Christ? Or was Elizabeth Elliot the hero for going back into the jungles of Ecuador to carry on his work?

Is Joni Eareckson Tada a hero of the faith for enduring suffering all these years even as she praises God with everything she does?

Or how about a girl named Katie who at age 16 makes plans to do a year of mission work before going to college. Only that year turns into a ministry that continues six years later.

Here’s a snippet of the post the link above will take you to:

It is December and God has spoken very clearly about opening a ministry that sponsors 40 of the orphaned children in the village where I am working. This involves moving into a different house, ALONE. It is big and I cannot imagine how God will fill it up. I am lonely and I am anxious. But I am still trusting. He fills the house, and we now have 400 children sponsored.

The thing I notice is that faith isn’t something fearless people have. It actually is what God gives as an antidote for fear.

So that’s the faith part — fearful people trusting God regardless of their dangerous, deadly, crippling, lonely circumstances.

The hero part? I think it’s living in such a way that others want to be like you. I don’t think heroes set out to be examples for others — they just are.

Published in: on February 2, 2011 at 7:18 pm  Comments (4)  
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Is C. S. Lewis A Hero Of The Faith?


I saw the defense in a Tweet yesterday but don’t know what sparked the rebuttal — C. S. Lewis was not a universalist.

Just a few days earlier I’d had a conversation with a group of writers and the question came up about why C. S. Lewis is so revered by evangelicals. Narnia, despite the presence of a very notable witch, is on most “must read” lists for children of evangelical Christians.

And there are other issues — the presence of Greek gods in Narnia, the suggestion that there might be a “holding place” after death in The Great Divorce, and the idea that a sincere believer in a false god might actually go to heaven in The Last Battle.

Are evangelical Christians blinded by C. S. Lewis’s reputation as a great Christian writer? Are we too stupid to notice suggestions of doctrine that might clash with evangelical positions? Or is there something more?

I admit, I was puzzled, and during the discussion listened to the other ideas (Lewis’s theology was informed by his years of atheism which gave him the freedom to break from traditional Anglican positions) and offered one of my own (Tolkien’s Catholicism had an effect on him) without any conviction that these explained the things he has been accused of believing — universalism and purgatory being the most apparent — or the reason evangelicals seem to ignore these.

As I’ve thought about this subject, two factors have presented themselves. One is that Lewis wrote considerably more than fiction. He has books and essays of apologetics spelling out his beliefs. A story that contains something akin to purgatory, then, must not be taken as Lewis’s statement of belief on the subject unless he’s written something in his non-fiction that would support that claim.

In the same way, when Lewis writes in The Last Battle of a sincere believer in a false god entering into the Narnia further in and further up, we would expect to find non-fiction works supporting a less than evangelical view of salvation, if in fact, this was a reflection of his actual belief and not simply “suppositional” fiction.

At this point, I’m wondering if Lewis isn’t known as much for his non-fiction as for The Chronicles of Narnia.

But there is a second possibility, one I touched on this past summer in “Christian Heroes Or Christian Celebrities?” The fact is, we live in a time in which people want to hang with the famous, as if we gain credibility by association. In other words, some people might say, “Ah, yes, I’m a fan of C. S. Lewis” and mean, I’m erudite and knowledgeable of all things Christian.

We jump on bandwagons and nothing gives us more pleasure than to jump on the bandwagon of someone who is famous and who is a Christian — never mind their theology!

Is C. S. Lewis a hero of the faith? Maybe, just maybe, we should read his work and decide for ourselves how his positions stack up with Scripture.

Christian Heroes or Christian Celebrities?


I just read another article (by Bob Burney of Salem Communications) about Anne Rice’s change of heart. The provocative title is “I’m With Anne Rice: I’m Resigning Too “ though the conclusion is quite different:

Sadly, I think Anne Rice is confused. The problem is not with “Christianity.” There is nothing wrong with Biblical Christianity. The real problem is religion masquerading as Christianity.

Be that as it may, what caught my attention was this passage addressing the response to Anne’s announcement six years ago that she was returning to Catholicism:

After writing for years on gothic and erotic themes, she shocked the world in October of 2004 when she announced a return to her “faith” in Newsweek and her determination henceforth to “write only for the Lord.” Christian magazines gobbled up the news of a “new convert” and praised her newfound “faith.” (Emphasis mine.)

We live in a celebrity culture, make no mistake. But Scripture indicates believers are supposed to be different. We aren’t supposed to idolize others, we aren’t supposed to love the world.

The way of the flesh is sadly dark. We, however, have the Light of the world. Does it make sense, then, to cover the Light and imitate those stumbling along in the dark?

But that’s what I think we do when we search for celebrities. We seem enamored with the already famous guy who becomes a Christian. Or the Christian who becomes famous for something other than his faith.

It really does come across as a “one for our side” attitude.

Instead, I think we should be looking for faith heroes. Who was Corrie ten Boom until she went to a German concentration camp for hiding Jews? She was a fifty-year-old nobody in the eyes of the world. An old maid. Not a celebrity.

But God did remarkable things through her during the next thirty-plus years of her life. Eventually Corrie became well known, not because she was somebody, but because she had faith in God.

Who was Elizabeth Elliot before her husband was martyred and she went back into the jungle to tell his killers about the love of God? She was a young unknown college graduate married to a missionary. A nobody, without a name any politician or entertainer or spots star would know.

But she became a hero of the faith because she trusted God in the midst of her grief and lived out what she said she believed.

That last may be the missing ingredient today. Christians chasing celebrities seem too eager to latch onto words that sound right (and might even be right) when they come from the mouths of people who are famous.

Shouldn’t we instead honor actions of faith and praise God accordingly?

Published in: on August 19, 2010 at 4:15 pm  Comments (7)  
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Tuck and Terrorism


What, you might be wondering, does Stephen R. Lawhead’s latest novel Tuck have to do with terrorism? For whatever reason, as I read this CSFF Blog Tour feature, I was struck by the similarities between this reconstituted Robin Hood legend and any number of other conflicts involving an undermanned group going against a more disciplined, seasoned fighting force, usually representing the reigning ruler.

One such instance would be the American Revolution. After the initial confrontations in Lexington and Concord, Minutemen—ill-equipped farmers—hassled and harried the disciplined English infantry from behind rocks and trees and whatever cover they could find.

It’s the same tactic used by the Viet Cong in the 1960s and 70s during the Vietnam war. It’s a mixture of fighting and hiding that has also played out in Nicaragua, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

I’ve heard the statement, One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. And at first blush, the line seems to be true. In the Robin Hood legend, as told in Tuck by Mr. Lawhead, the French viewed Rhi Bran y Hud as an outlaw and a rebel while Bran viewed the Ffreinc as unjust and cruel usurpers, oppressors to be dispatched by peaceful means if possible, but by resistance if that’s what it required.

So were the Grellon who followed Bran terrorists?

The very idea is discordant with the traditional concept of Robin Hood as a hero. He was noble and good, giving to the poor, bringing justice to the land, fighting for the downtrodden when they couldn’t fight for themselves. Robin and his merry men, terrorists?

Well then, were they instead, freedom fighters? Or is it only perspective that creates the label?

I think it is more than perspective. As I see it, Bran was a type of freedom fighter. At least as Mr. Lawhead painted the scene in the King Raven Trilogy, the Normans, in authority because they conquered the land, did not have the interests of the Welsh people at heart. Their leadership was corrupt and self-serving, pompous and oppressive.

Interestingly, in the latter part of Tuck, Bran’s men raid the Ffreinc’s supplies. In answer, the Ffreinc raid the barns of local farmers. In other words, Bran targeted soldiers, and the Ffreinc targeted non-combatants.

And isn’t that kind of ignoble act one of the things that marks a terrorist? Instead of helping the helpless, terrorists target them or use them. A terrorist is still self-serving and may even be pompous and oppressive, but from a position of weakness rather than from one of strength. Sure, the goals may seem similar to the heroic goals of Robin Hood, at least on the outside, but the terrorist is willing to climb over the untold number of bodies of those who have no part in the war in order to get what he wants.

There’s a reason a Robin Hood is admired, and it has less to do with distributing wealth than with self-sacrifice. In Mr. Lawhead’s version told in the King Raven Trilogy, and culminating in Tuck, Bran wanted justice. He was a good king and ruled his people with equity. He was honest, a man of his word, fair-minded, willing to make peace, but he was also committed and firm and unwavering. As a consequence, and because of the odds against him, he lived in poverty, put his life at risk over and over, and lost some of the people closest to him.

As I see it, that’s a hero, not a terrorist.

I’d recommend a couple other stops along the Lawhead Tuck Tour. Rachel Starr Thomson has a beautiful review; in her post, Ryan Heart included a book trailer I didn’t even know about; Steve Rice brings up the issue of syncretism in his “Weak Points” post (brought to my mind the criticism C. S. Lewis received for including Greek gods in his Narnia tales); in his review, John Ottinger found the characters weak (and especially Bran who he “disliked intensely”); John Otte takes a comparative look at various renditions of the Robin Hood legend. There’s more—lots more—but that’s enough to get you on your way. Enjoy! 😀

Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 10:54 am  Comments (4)  
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Fantasy Friday — Blaggards and Heros


Please take a moment to help determine the April CSFF Top Blogger Award winner. Round one ends next Wednesday.

And speaking of the April tour, one more participant has posted about Blaggard’s Moon. Stop by Reviews Plus and see what Caleb has to say.

I’ve been thinking about something since I read Chawna’s post, Heroic Heroes in which she expresses a desire for heroic heroes in fiction, ones that will be models for us, that will challenge us to live better, truer, more generously, more nobly.

While I agree that in each of us is the desire for a heroic hero to show up and save us (even as some, like the drowning man with a would-be rescuer, fight Him off when He comes), I wonder about putting heroic heroes into our fiction.

As I see it, the world is propagating the belief that Mankind is good. A common theme in fiction, from TV to children’s books, is that all we have to do is reach down inside us and become who we are capable of becoming.

So I wonder, if a Christian writes a story with a heroic hero, won’t it look so much like that message of the world that readers may miss the point?

Personally, I thought Blaggard’s Moon author, George Bryan Polivka, did a wonderful job creating a type of Christ (“a person or thing symbolizing or exemplifying the ideal or defining characteristics of something”).

    ***SPOILER ALERT***

Damrick Fellows rescued Jenta. He loved her and was willing to give his life to her even though he thought she deserved death.

Then she raised the pistol, and aimed it at him.

Damrick shook his head. His mind turned. She was a pirate, then. She had a gun. So did he. The oaths he’d made others take, his calling, his mission, justice, the law, even his instincts…all led him to one single conclusion. She should die.

Jenta clicked back the pistol’s hammer. Her eyes were empty and dark.

…He made his choice. Without taking his eyes off her, he set his pistol on the bar.

“I’m not leaving you to him,” he told her.

To me, that’s a type of Christ. Loving us, making the church His bride.

Of course, in the story, Damrick later tells Jenta that she saved him. So the character found personal redemption that was not associated with his representative act of salvation.

Personally, I find this to be heroic and true, without giving the world’s message that heroism is within each one of us, if we just follow an example or dig down deep and become like the one we emulate.

Maybe the story isn’t quite as satisfying, but that’s as it should be too, I think. Because we won’t find true satisfaction in this life or apart from Christ. We will continue to long. And hope.

A story that shows that part of life seems to me to be the truest kind.

Published in: on April 24, 2009 at 10:33 am  Comments (6)  
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