Posts Tagged ‘Christianity’

Let My People Think

Culture, Religion | Posted by Shannon
Mar 15 2017

In the lately-renewed controversy surrounding The Shack, two defenses of the book, and now movie, stand out to me. Both are meant to silence theological critiques. “It’s just a story,” runs the first. The second is more varied and a bit harder to sum up, but it turns on how the book makes people feel, especially about God’s love.

These defenses don’t answer criticisms of The Shack; they dismiss them out of hand. They make me critical thinkingthink of what Ravi Zacharias called his radio program: “Let My People Think.”

To dismiss criticism of a novel’s theology by pointing out that it’s just a story implies one of two things. The first is that stories can’t present a theology. As a statement regarding stories generally, this is wrong; as a statement regarding The Shack in particular, it’s absurd. The whole purpose of The Shack is to expound on theology, and it has all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. No one who has read the book will doubt that it makes a theological statement with clarity and at great length.

I think, then, that It’s just a story carries the second implication, namely that the theology of a story is irrelevant. But once admitting that a story has a theology, how can that theology be irrelevant? A story’s elements differ in importance, but no element is simply irrelevant, and a story’s ideas about God are far from the least relevant. Further, stories have power in that they work through the imagination and the emotions, sometimes bypassing the head. A story’s ideas, especially about God, matter.

There might be a third, more sophisticated understanding of this argument; it may mean that stories shouldn’t be judged too strictly because their form creates limitation and an inherent ambiguity. Generally, this is true; specifically regarding The Shack, it isn’t.

C.S. Lewis, when he wrote a novel about a mortal demanding answers from God, set it in an ancient, mythical world that required something more imaginative and more allegorical than a straight-up discussion of Christianity. But The Shack takes place in our world, and it’s chock-a-block with straight-up discussions of Christianity. Unlike other novels, it doesn’t present its ideas through fallible characters, who might be wrong, or events, which are open to interpretation; it has the Almighty state its ideas in endless exposition. There are few novels more obvious in their theology, and any notion that that theology is beyond the bounds of critique is simply wrong.

Other Christians justify The Shack by how it makes them feel. I don’t dismiss the importance of feeling God’s love, or the value of a bridge between the head and the heart. And yet: Feelings are no justification in the end.

Human feelings, no matter how spiritual they may seem, are not incontrovertible proof of God’s work; God’s work is not necessarily a seal of approval on His instruments. Maybe God has used The Shack, as people say, but you know, He used Pharaoh, too.

That The Shack makes you feel (correctly) that God is love doesn’t mean that it isn’t wrong in other respects; neither does it make significant errors all right. And it’s not enough to feel rightly about God; we need to think rightly about Him, too. Even the feeling that God is love, without any feeling that He is also majestic and terrifyingly holy, leaves us stranded a long way from home.

We live in an anti-intellectual age, where feelings are taken to be the basis of everything from moral truth to government policy. But Christians should swim against that current, too. We shouldn’t dismiss what a novel or movie says about God because it’s just a story; we shouldn’t be so carried away by how something makes us feel that we don’t want to think about what it means. Ideas matter, and they can be bad even when the feelings are good.

Let my people think.

Review: Last Stand at Lighthouse Point

Book Reviews | Posted by Shannon
Jun 22 2015

Frank Denton knows that he’s unlucky. So when it becomes gradually obvious that he has made more powerful enemies than he quite realized, and he’s about to lose his job, and he’s running out of money again … it only makes sense to leave.

Drake Sanders knows he’s lucky. With a beautiful woman he’s ready to marry, with good work at good pay, he has all the happiness he needs. So when a mysterious informant draws his reporter’s eye to a long-ago crime, when enemies seen and unseen go to the farthest lengths to end him … the only thing to do is to stay and fight.

Tiffany Summersby hates to lose, whether the title of valedictorian or a beauty pageant. While investigating a bizarre murder at the Magnum Point Lighthouse, she becomes entangled in something far more sinister than she had ever guessed. And there’s no question but that she’s in it to the end. Whatever the end may be.

Last Stand at Lighthouse Point, written by George Duncan, is a spiritual thriller by way of a mystery. Much as Frank Peretti did in This Present Darkness, Duncan seeks to create a vision of the spiritual war that surrounds us, the battlefield – larger and more ancient than human life – on which human dramas play out. Both books glimpse behind the curtain, to the story behind the story.

Duncan employs a large, convincing cast of characters, in which women are surprisingly prominent. Male-dominated casts are more common, and while I don’t object, it was interesting to read something more female-oriented. Duncan reinforces his characters – and, indeed, the whole novel – with a wealth of detail.

All the detail creates a sense of realism, a strong present-day atmosphere. Yet I came to feel that some of it was extraneous. The novel would have benefited from a firm editor – to cull the unnecessary, perhaps condense certain scenes, and to correct the typos and other minor errors.

Last Stand at Lighthouse Point confronts the hardest question posed to Christianity: Why does God allow so much suffering? so much evil and cruelty? How does a just God permit such terrible injustice, or a loving God permit so much pain?

Here – I’m just going to be blunt – Last Stand at Lighthouse Point departs from orthodoxy. The novel’s answer is that God is not really in control, and on those grounds it holds Him blameless for the world’s suffering (not everyone would). As a rule, Last Stand is reverent towards the Bible, but in this it opposes the Bible’s clear vision of God’s sovereignty and power – not laid down as a doctrine, but arching over everything like the sky. It is foundational, flashing into words again and again. “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him”; “Surely the LORD’S arm is not too short to save”; “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”

The belief in God’s absolute sovereignty is as universal among His people as the belief in His love and His justice; the resulting struggle to reconcile them is as old as the Bible. Job, the Psalmist, Habakkuk, Jeremiah – they all questioned what God did and allowed. The ultimate reconciliation has to lie with God; “You are Yourself the answer,” as C.S. Lewis said.

And all other answers – even the best ones, rational and sympathetic and tightly constructed – they do not, by themselves, entirely satisfy. The idea that God doesn’t permit innocent suffering because He can’t help it doesn’t satisfy. What kind of Creator loses control of His own creation, and is there really any comfort in the notion that rather than living under the power of God, we live under the power of a web of spiritual laws?

In all other respects, Last Stand at Lighthouse Point shows a charismatic theology. And the novel is other things, too: a story of spiritual warfare, a thriller that achieves genuinely effective moments, a southern mystery.

CSFF Blog Tour: Keep the Salt, Shine the Light

Culture, Religion | Posted by Shannon
Oct 01 2014

The most outstanding element of Jill Williamson’s Safe Lands Trilogy is its world-building. From the opening pages of Captives, she created two worlds, orbiting no more than a rising mountain apart and yet utterly distinct. In the Safe Lands, all is pleasure and comfort and convenience, greased by the omnipresent wonders of technology.

In little Glenrock, life is harder and the rules are stricter. On everyone is laid clear expectations of who and what they are expected to be, and they feel it when they fail. But unlike the people of the Safe Lands, the people of Glenrock had the freedom to go, and even to stay much longer.

The entire trilogy is more or less about the collision of these two societies. These dual, conflicting worlds came to remind me of the Church and the larger culture of our present day. It’s not an exact resemblance, by any stretch; the world is not as dissolute or libertine as the Safe Lands, and the Christian community is not as strict or isolated as Glenrock. But the parallels can be drawn long.

In Rebels, the last book of the trilogy, readers became acquainted with the Kindred, a separatist group within the Safe Lands that made common cause with the Glenrock exiles. Not that all the Kindred were willing in this arrangement. In fact, one woman was so unfriendly and judgmental toward outsiders of any stripe that she reminded me of Glenrock’s own leader.

The founders of Glenrock and of the Kindred had excellent reasons for what they did. The separation from the Safe Lands was necessary to save themselves and their descendants from tyranny, deception, and all kinds of grief. Nor, in their fears and suspicions, were the people of these groups entirely unjustified. But it led some of the Glenrock folk to an unnerving callousness toward outsiders, and some of the Kindred to give up a much wider world for safety.

And Rebels, like Captives, left me thinking about the Church and the world. The New Testament rings with a sense of the separation between the Church and the world. It’s present in Christ’s image of His people as a city on a hill, in Peter’s addressing us as “aliens and strangers in the world”, in Hebrews’ portrait of the heroes of faith “looking for a country of their own”. Paul commands Christians not to “conform any longer to the pattern of this world”, John instructs us not to love the world, and James goes farthest of all, warning us that friendship toward the world is hatred toward God.

But as with Glenrock and the Kindred, the necessary separation can turn to isolation and a noble mission can lose its focus to a selfish, inward concentration. The Church has been called to more than self-preservation. When we make preserving ourselves – or even preserving our families or communities – our only goal, we lose sight of God’s larger purpose.

Of course, when we cease to make guarding ourselves and our communities any sort of goal, we may lose God’s purpose in another way. The Safe Lands Trilogy captures that truth, too, showing not only what happens to those who become rather too narrow in the straight way, but also to those who fail to recognize and reject the false ideas of the world.

The same tension between preserving and going forth is found in the Sermon on the Mount, where Christ commands us both to keep our saltiness and to shine our light – and of such tension, perhaps, balance is made.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

CSFF Blog Tour: Like a Crusader

History, Literature | Posted by Shannon
Apr 23 2014

“Crusader perched like a gargoyle on a second floor ledge …”

So begins Numb – with Crusaders and gargoyles, icons of the Middle Ages and the Catholic Church.

Although there are obvious and significant differences between the True Church of Numb and the medieval Catholic Church, there are also definite similarities. The power exercised in the state is one such commonality, and so is the persecution of heretics. In the True Church’s schemes to subjugate the heathen Praesidium there is some parallel to the Crusades. Yet the parallels are limited. The Crusaders had two motivations absent entirely from the True Church: the Turkish persecution of Christian pilgrims in the Middle East and the apprehension of that land as the Holy Land.

There is a story from the Crusades to which Numb bears a remarkable resemblance. The First Crusade succeeded in taking Jerusalem in 1099, but as the years went by, the power of the Crusaders in the Middle East declined. They lost territory and Jerusalem became threatened.

So it was time for the Second Crusade. Pope Eugenius III urged King Louis VII of France to take part in the new Crusade and commissioned Bernard of Clairvaux to preach it. As Urban did for the First Crusade, Eugenius III made participating in the Second Crusade a cleansing penance for sins. He wrote to King Louis: “[B]y the authority granted us by God we concede and confirm to those who decide out of devotion to take up and complete so holy and so necessary a task and labor … remission of sins.”

And Bernard declared to the crowd at Vezelay, with King Louis at his side, “The din of arms, the danger, the labors, the fatigues of war, are the penances that God now imposes upon you. Hasten then to expiate your sins by victories over the Infidels.”

Now the king’s sin, which he wanted to expiate, was this: While waging war in Champagne, Louis VII sacked the city of Vitry and caused its church to be set on fire. More than a thousand people who had taken refuge in the church died in the flames.

These cruel deaths plagued the young king with guilt and remorse. The Pope and Bernard showed him the way to expiate his guilt: a Crusade to the Holy Land.

That is the similarity to Numb. As the Ministrix directed Crusader, so did the Catholic Church direct King Louis: service to God for the remission of sins, absolving guilt for death by inflicting death.

CSFF Blog Tour: Numb

Book Reviews | Posted by Shannon
Apr 22 2014

Crusader is the best assassin the Church has, carrying out all his missions with heartless thoroughness. He is intelligent and methodical in his work, his skills well-honed. And he’s numb. No pain can stop him, no emotions can get in his way.

Until he is assigned a new victim and, for reasons he doesn’t understand, he can’t kill her.

Numb is a science fiction novel written by John Otte and published by Marcher Lord Press. The various technological trappings of the story give it a feel of classic blaster-and-spaceships sci-fi. I loved the idea of the space stations and of the Ceres colonizers. The abandoned Waystation was particularly evocative, giving me a feeling of how vast space is and how very easy for even large things to get lost.

The world-building showed some very nice touches; the cube-shaped New Jerusalem Station is one of them, but my favorite is this comment, delivered by one of the novel’s protagonists: “Tell me, did the earliest Christians arm themselves when the Emperor Nero trundled them off to the Vatican hippodrome as arsonists?”

This is a clever blending of fact (Nero’s scapegoating of Christians for the burning of Rome) with error (“the Vatican hippodrome”?). Time blurs history, and I enjoyed seeing that acted out in Numb. I appreciated that Otte in no way pointed out the confusion of facts, trusting his readers to catch it on their own.

The oblique reference to the Catholic Church was also interesting. The True Church is essentially a speculative version of the pre-Reformation Catholic Church, transplanted from the Middle Ages to outer space. You could list the discrepancies between the True Church and even the medieval Catholic Church, but it still mirrors the Roman church in its political intrigue, persecution of heretics, and attempted subjugation of infidels. Alongside this, names like Inquisitor and Crusader and the Cathedral of Light are only superficial similarities.

If I had to name one fault of this book, it would be that characters’ actions didn’t always logically follow their motivations. It happened rarely, and even then was usually minor. One character, for example, showed himself wary of certain visitors to his installation but then casually shared vital information about the place.

In one place, however, it wasn’t minor. Reason would caution against helping, and then falling for, a bloody-handed assassin, especially one who had been assigned to kill you. But that’s what Isolda did. I think her decisions could have been justified, but she made them too quickly and with too little explanation.

Numb is a fast-paced story that takes surprising turns and, in it all, leaves space to the characters, through whom the novel gains emotional power. Add an intriguing framework built from the history of our past and theories of our future, and Numb establishes itself as a winning piece of sci-fi.


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

CSFF Blog Tour: Leviathan

Culture, Literature | Posted by Shannon
Feb 19 2014

Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. (Revelation 12:3)

The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. (Revelation 12:9)

The only time a dragon appeared by name in the Bible was in the dizzying visions of Revelation. But if you go by description and not only names, dragons appear in the Old Testament also.

In Job 41, God describes the Leviathan, and it sounds for all the world like a dragon: “Who dares open the doors of his mouth, ringed about with his fearsome teeth? His back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. … His breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from his mouth. … Iron he treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood.”

Near the end of the chapter, God says that the Leviathan “makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron” – a connection between the Leviathan and the sea that is echoed in nearly every mention of the creature. Asaph, praising God in Psalm 74, writes:

It was you who split open the sea by your power;
you broke the heads of the monster in the waters.
It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan
and gave him as food to the creatures of the desert.

It is implied here that the Leviathan had, or could have, multiple heads – as the red dragon that symbolized Satan did. Another curious parallel to the vision of Revelation is found in Isaiah 27:

In that day,

the LORD will punish with his sword—
his fierce, great and powerful sword—
Leviathan the gliding serpent,
Leviathan the coiling serpent;
he will slay the monster of the sea.

“The great dragon” is also called “that ancient serpent” – and indeed, John uses serpent interchangeably with dragon near the end of Revelation 12.

It is common to see dragons portrayed as good in modern Christian fantasy. Yet the Bible symbolizes Satan with a dragon and calls the dragon-like Leviathan a monster.

I will begin by admitting that if Scripture uses a dragon as a symbol for Satan, it is because something in the nature of dragons corresponds to something in the nature of Satan. Allegories and symbols, similes and metaphors are all based on a real likeness.

But not a complete likeness. That is the other side of the coin. The Apostle Peter famously wrote that the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”. And for all that the devil is like a lion, Jesus Himself is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah”. The lion as predator – brutal and devouring – resembles Satan, but the lion as the king of the beasts – strong and majestic – resembles Christ.

Like the dragon, the serpent is used to represent Satan, and imagery throughout the Bible associates snakes with evil. Jesus more than once used the denunciation “brood of vipers”. And He still commanded His followers to be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

Satan may be an ancient serpent, but serpents are not all bad.

Doves prove the same principle from the other side. As the Bible usually invokes snakes negatively but may invoke them positively, so it usually invokes doves positively but may invoke them negatively, cf. Hosea: “Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless.”

To think that Satan’s representation as a dragon is a commentary on the intrinsic evil of dragons ignores both the logic of symbolism and the richness and diversity of Scriptural imagery. Perhaps it ignores, too, the truth that since God is the Creator of all things, nothing is intrinsically evil.

Many things are evil, and some things are evil without redemption. But nothing is evil in its original nature, because that nature comes from God. The fierce and powerful Leviathan – the “monster of the sea”, fire-breathing, invincible, and undeniably dragonish – has another side. Psalm 104 has what may be the only gentle imagery of the Leviathan:

There is the sea, vast and spacious,
teeming with creatures beyond number—
living things both large and small.
There the ships go to and fro,
and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

Gentle – and also mighty. Like the lion laying down with the lamb, gentleness and strength may be the truest nature of Leviathan, and even of dragons.

CSFF Blog Tour: The Shadow Lamp

Book Reviews | Posted by Shannon
Nov 12 2013

Can you think of anything more frightening than the End of Everything, the total collapse of the universe?

I can. I saw that TV show where the aliens sent ships to burn up every nation on Earth, city by city. If we’re all going to die, the universe collapsing frankly sounds like an easier way to go.

But can you think of anything more complete?

In The Shadow Lamp, the fourth book of the Bright Empires series, Stephen Lawhead finally reveals what is at stake: everything. This is the great advancement The Shadow Lamp makes on the Bright Empires saga. Otherwise, the book mostly builds – on the largest ideas of the series, on the established characters. It explains much – from the Omega Point to the nature of the multiverse, from the Burley Men to Charles’ change.

Gianni’s metaphysical exposition was, I think, the singular misstep of the book. For one thing, it contained statements a Christian would have to take with generosity. (“The future is not controlled in any way” – yeah, okay, if you want to sum up your views of free will and the nature of Time in that misleading way.) For another, Gianni’s address sounded curiously like the vague philosophizing of the Zetetics, whom I do not believe Gianni had ever met until about five minutes before his speech.

Gianni was a priest. Yet in this exposition, he didn’t talk as if his intellectual foundation were in the creeds of Christianity or in the Bible; he didn’t speak the language of Scripture. He spoke like – well, like the Zetetics, who are recognizably theistic but not demonstrably Christian.

The threatened annihilation of the universe, like so many elements of science fiction, requires a small suspension of disbelief. On an intellectual level I found it compelling; on an emotional level, not so much. Paradoxically, the annihilation of the universe is a less disturbing idea when you have a religion that makes a doctrine of the terrible end of the world. When it comes to “harrowing visions”, The Shadow Lamp has nothing on Revelation.

As characters talked about the awful cataclysm of the universe collapsing, it reminded me of the biblical picture of the heavens and earth wearing out like a garment. “Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same” – God goes on. And so will we.

But at the end, Lawhead finally got me. Not that the final vision he gave made the threat seem any more dire, but it moved me from thinking about the annihilation of the universe (God and us remaining) to “what it would be like to witness the End of Everything”.

The end was the best part of the book, and probably the only part that was truly marvelous. The hinted cause of the multiverse’s destabilization was both surprising and satisfying, and it carried delicious potential. The epilogue was a tremendous portrait of Christ’s love meeting the dark heart of a lost man, and it also suggested an incredible possibility.

The Shadow Lamp is not the best installment of the Bright Empires saga, but it is a vital one. And it accomplished the necessity of any book in a series, and the great mark of success in a novel: It left me wanting more.


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

CSFF Blog Tour: Storm

Book Reviews | Posted by Shannon
Jun 26 2013

At the end of the world, you should expect to have some problems. Tyranny, intrigue, drought, a biological superweapon, Big Brother watching you – it all gathers into a perfect storm.

In Storm, Logan Langly continues his fight against DOME, his search for answers. He sees more of the big picture than nearly everyone who walks through the streets of the Global Union. But he doesn’t see nearly enough.

Storm focuses less on Logan and Erin than the earlier books, though Logan retains his place as the protagonist of the series. Evan Angler adds a few new characters, expands on some old ones. We get our first real look at Lamson and Cylis; Tyler and Eddie – who had previously impressed me only as a couple of unusually stupid boys – acquire some depth. Lily gets more pages than ever, and becomes more confusing than ever; Dr. Rhyne is both hilarious and stereotype-breaking.

The novel is written in an on-the-street style, with brief paragraphs, many sentence fragments, and a pervasive casualness. There is art in expressions sprinkled throughout the book – such as describing a town as “still, suspended in the thick, stifling air”. You read that, and it sounds like something you’ve felt once. The narrative of Storm, though not strongly detailed, is always flavorful.

It’s with considerable skill that Angler blends the genres of dystopian and End Times fiction. One can, reading the Swipe series, see Revelation playing out, but most of the judgments seem – if I may borrow the phrase – “man-made catastrophes”. The prophecies of Revelation are fulfilled, but not in any obvious way.

And to me, that feels right. Jesus gave us signs of His return, and told us that we would know by them when it was near. But He also said that we should always watch and be ready, because He will come, like a thief in the night, at an hour when we do not expect Him. He promised to surprise us.

What I like about the Swipe series is that it shows that the End Times are likely to be so unexpected that we could, even as Christians, be in them without realizing it. It shows how there may be sighs that those who are awake and wise can read – and still not know when Jesus is coming, only that it seems to be very soon.

Storm is the third book of the Swipe series, and the best yet – the most well-written, the most unexpected and yet the most logical in its story, with the most intriguing ending. It could change the way you think about End Times fiction; it could change the way you think about the End Times.


Storm is written by Evan Angler, who has a website despite living on the run from DOME.

Evan Angler briefly appears as a character in Storm, getting his story from his characters. According to Becky Miller, “Evan Angler” is a pen name. She said that she had “yet to locate any information about the person behind the pen name.

So I spent a few minutes trying, and now I have to say: Me, too. The author’s bios of Evan Angler – in the books and on the Internet – are blarney; entertaining blarney, but not a fact in them. On his Twitter account, in interviews he keeps up the pretense of living in the dystopia of the Global Union, and his picture is of somebody wearing a hoodie with his head bowed, the setting sun over his shoulder, so you can’t really see the face …

On reflection, I’m not sure that Evan Angler even exists. But you should go to his site anyway. Because he has the best book trailers I’ve ever seen.

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

CSFF Blog Tour: Sneak

Book Reviews | Posted by Shannon
Jun 25 2013

When you are a refugee from an evil government and its secret police, when your ambition is to pull a prison break at a fortress of a prison, when you are variously counted a criminal, a traitor, an outcast, and a target – what do you do? Well, for starters, you sneak.

Sneak is the second installment of the story Evan Angler began in Swipe. Logan, now among the Dust, is on a mission to save his sister; he has a city to go to, a name to look for – Acheron, the ultimate bane of the Markless. On the road they find stories of Acheron. Whether or not they’ve found truth – well, that they won’t know until they can get to Acheron and see for themselves.

Sneak explores deeper the world rising from the devastation of global warming and Total War. That world grows more elaborately dystopian, and in this second book, the series becomes definitely Christian and unmistakably End Times. I had hoped the books were not going in that direction, because it’s not the sort of thing that naturally appeals to me. But if you’re going to do it, this is the way to.

Knowing Revelation, one can see various fulfillments in Swipe and Sneak. Yet they come in unexpected ways, flavored and influenced by the particular world of the novels. And they come unheralded, and even gradually – far more interesting, and even more believable, than the seven years of cataclysm found in other End Times works.

The pace of Sneak is brisk enough to keep away boredom, and slow enough that readers are not left confused. Certain events were skimmed past with hardly a glance, but they were peripheral to the actual experiences of the characters, and maybe that is the nature of a middle-grade book. On the same front, I found the main character too rash – but again, maybe that is the nature of thirteen-year-old boys who have abruptly been torn from all that was stable in their lives.

What I appreciated most about this book was the inventiveness with which the author handled his world and End Times prophecies. He had a flair with his characters, too, and managed to support a large cast and make most of them distinctive. Sneak leaves more going than Swipe did, while also leaving less of an idea of where the characters will turn next. So here’s to the next book, and the author’s skill that keeps readers coming back.


Sneak is the second book in the Swipe series. Yes, we are getting there: to Storm, the one under the spotlight.

CSFF Blog Tour: Imagining Angels

Culture, Literature | Posted by Shannon
Apr 24 2013

One sometimes wonders – on these tours where we debate angel books and angel characters – what angels make of it all. Possibly they don’t make much. Heaven has more important business. Anyway, they have surely noticed by now that gaps in human knowledge are often filled by human imagination.

God has set limits so that, though angels are always seeing us, we can hardly ever see them. Our knowledge of angels is so slight that Christians have had a diversity of views on them. Even staying within biblical parameters, we can imagine angels many different ways. Here is a brief sampling of angelic portrayals from literature written by Christians – two from our modern era, two from the era just before.


We’re close now, so close than I can see that touching a Sabre’s wing may be the fastest way to lose an arm. I set to examining the nearest one. He’s gigantic, like Jake said. And his eyes are pure white, trademark white. Like Canaan’s. Like Helene’s. He has the celestial gaze of one who’d lay down his life for another. His skin, too, is white, so white it looks almost silver. His muscled arms and chest make Canaan look trim. But as much as I can find things to admire about his physique, it’s his wings that so separate him from any other angel I’ve seen.

Their beauty is staggering, their design inexplicable. Where I expect to see rows and rows of snowy white feathers, one blade lies on top of another – thousands of them – sharp and glistening silver. Shannon Dittemore, Broken Wings

Love, we have looked on many shows
As over lands from sea to sea
Man with his Guardian Angel goes
His shining shadow more than he.

– G. K. Chesterton, “Love, We Have Looked on Many Shows”

In a graceful, fiery spiral they drifted down behind one of the college dormitories and came to rest in the cover of some overhanging willows. The moment their feet touched down, the light from their clothes and bodies began to fade and the shimmering wings gently subsided. Save for their towering stature they appeared as two ordinary men, one trim and blond, the other built like a tank, both dressed in what looked like matching tan fatigues. Golden belts had become like dark leather, their scabbards were dull copper, and the glowing, bronze bindings on their feet had become simple leather sandals. Frank Peretti, This Present Darkness

But Thou, Lord, surely knewest thine own plan
When the angelic indifferencies with no bar
Universally loved, but Thou gav’st man
The tether and pang of the particular,

Which, like a chemic drop, infinitesimal,
Plashed into pure water, changing the whole,
Embodies and embitters and turns all
Spirit’s sweet water into astringent soul

That we, though small, might quiver with Fire’s same
Substantial form as Thou – not reflect merely
Like lunar angels back to Three cold flame.
Gods are we, Thou hast said; and we pay dearly.
C. S. Lewis, “Scazons”