A Different Description

Red_Papier Mache_2010-01-03

2013-02-04 – My friend Bob came by today to tell me that he read The Shack over the weekend. The Shack is a best-selling book by Wm. Paul Young about a father of a kidnapped girl who has an encounter with the divine at a shack in the woods where it is thought the girl was murdered.

He’s told me about this book before (he’s read it before) and I’d like to read it, but I have 346 books on my Amazon Wish List. Honestly, The Shack is fairly high on the list, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. Right now I’m reading Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out by this year’s Nobel laureate in literature Mo Yan.

After raving about the book, Bob made an odd comment. He said that he didn’t know why the book was called Christian fiction. My first reaction was to say, “Bob! The book is published by Faith Words, the Christian division of Hachette Book Group USA (so said the print-out he gave me). Of course it’s Christian. “I never thought of that,” he said.

After Bob left I read the plot summary from his print-out and discovered that the story includes three characters that are (or represent—I haven’t read it, yet) the father, son, and the holy spirit. And the son is Jesus Christ. “Bob!” I said. “If a story has the three persons of the trinity and one of them is Jesus Christ, wouldn’t you consider that Christian?”

“If you look at it that way,” he said. “But I never look at it that way.”

“Bob!” I said, “That’s all there is to separate one religion from another. Reality isn’t different for different religions. Only the way they describe it is different.”

“Good point.”

Now, this conversation sounds all new agey, but maybe it isn’t. This is a Christian country. Viewing things through a Christian lens may not be perceived as Christian—just normal. Maybe it takes a Jew to come along and say, “Hey! This isn’t my world view. This is the Christian world view.”

Mo Yan’s book is a very different world view. So far, I am about a quarter of the way through and I am reading about reincarnation in the early days of the Chinese communist revolution. I’m beginning to see some signs that the world view may be changing but, so far, the capitalist pig of the story (in the form of a human being) has been successively reincarnated as a donkey and as an ox. And we’ve even had a glimpse of the guy (god or demon, who know?) responsible for sending the soul of a decedent back out into the world. That was Chapter One.

Same reality. Different descriptions. Really.

But for sure Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out is not the Christian view. (At least not in the first quarter of the book.)

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