procrastination, heresy, and navel-gazing.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This Present Darkness

no, not my 3 month absence from blogging (however dark that might seem), but the 1986 bestseller (2.5mil sold) by Frank E. Peretti.

it's the book i chose to take on my honeymoon, mainly because it was a paperback and Calvin's Institutes was a hardback. but the recommendation for the book actually came from one of my lecturers, who billed it as:
"before there was Left Behind, there was Frank E. Peretti".

what i most enjoyed about this novel was the way it tried to minimise (erase) the distance between the earthly and the spiritual. it offers an example for anyone who's struggled to understand the biblical ideas of e.g. Ephesians 6:12; "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."

on the earthly, we see the godly pastor Hank (yes, it is American) with his small yet faithful flock, but also the popular megachurch pastor Oliver Young - perhaps so named because of his involvement with new-age stuff - who is part of a group who are taking over town after town to turn them into centres for their deeper spirituality.

but on the spiritual, we see this deeper spirituality is only what the demons convince their people it is - the reader knows better. the reader sees the demons with their talons stuck into people's heads, whispering lies to them. the saints of Hank's church we see are those who give power to the angels; as they gather more prayer support, the energy of the angels increases accordingly.

now, there are already some questionable things here, such as how reliant God is on our prayers to accomplish his work, but it's just so engrossing! as demons are defeated we see people released from their grip, freed from the prince of the air, and putting their life into God's hands. people become Christians, the wicked are struck down, God's saints are vindicated even though they are broken.

yes, the "new age spiritualities" are very caricatured, and the spiritual cause of things is realised in a way with no basis whatsoever (as when the car conks out because an angel has thrust their sword through the engine), but it is a novel.

it was a ripping yarn, a good holiday read. i'm still not sure whether i'll make it to the sequels (piercing the darkness and prophet). perhaps i now need to try one of the left behind series for a bit of comparison.

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