Monday, September 14, 2015

Luther and Katharina

She trailed her fingers across the rough bricked arch around the doorway. The urge to voice her deepest needs pulsed through her. What if she talked to God without a traditional prayer, the way the pastor did each Sunday? Would God hear her? Part of her wanted to try, wanted to believe she could shed the old customs and beliefs just as she’d shed her nun’s garments. But if she did, what would she have left?

Book: Luther and Katharina: A Novel of Love and Rebellion by Jody Hudlund, Water Brook Press 2015

Genre: Historical Fiction
Subjects:  Prayer, Salvation, Persecution, Romance
Summary: Nuns escaped from a convent. A spoiled noblewoman refuses to accept marriage to anyone not her equal. A religious movement to proclaim true salvation to the world. Enemies watching for chances to destroy the leader and followers, not afraid to burn them at the stake. And in the midst of all of this one woman catches the eye of one man. But marriage isn’t for him. The middle of a war is not the time to think about romance. Or is it?
Notes: This is the story of Martin Luther, leader of the reformation and his wife Katharina von Bora. It’s the story of the impact of the reformation on those who had never heard true salvation proclaimed before. It shows Katharina wrestling with the truths she hears from Martin Luther and others of the reformation. Parts of it, like the freedom to escape from the Abbey she embraces. Yet, how can she risk giving up the indulgence given her by her mother? It’s show Luther as he wrestles with acceptance with being too harsh and leading a rebellion that is causing death or hiding the truth and allowing men to live and die believing the lies the church is teaching. It’s a very personal story, basically using two characters to show what the entire movement would have been like. As the entire focus is on the proclaiming of the truth of salvation, the spiritual elements are strong.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 5/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

Ephesians 2:8-9 –For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast.
Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. I appreciate it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Time Quartet

“Where are we going?” Calvin asked.
Again Meg felt an actual physical tingling of fear as Mrs. Which spoke.
“Wwee musstt ggo bbehindd thee sshadow.”
“But we will not do it all at once,” Mrs. Whatsit comforted them. “We will do it in short stages.” She looked at Meg. “Now we will tesser, we will wrinkle again. Do you understand?”

Meg asked, “Where are we?”
“Never mind where. Watch.”
She stood beside him, looking at the brilliance of stars. Then came a sound, a sound which was above sound, beyond sound, a violent, silent, electrical report, which made her press her hands in pain against her ears. Across the sky where the stars were clustered as thickly as in the Milky Way, a crack shivered, slivered, became a line of nothingness.
“Progo, what is it? What happened?”
“The Echthroi have Xed.”
“Annihilated. Negated. Extinguished. Xed.”

How were they going to be able to get home from this strange desert land into which they had been cast and which was heaven knew where in all the countless solar systems in all the countless galaxies?

“What this all about? I know something’s happened, but what?”
For a moment no one spoke. Then Meg said, “Maybe there’s hope.”
Sandy waved her words away. “Really, Meg. Be reasonable.”
“Why? We don’t live in a reasonable world. Nuclear war is not reasonable. Reason hasn’t got us anywhere.”

Genre: Sci-fi/fantasy
Target Audience: Boys and Girls 11+
Subjects: Love, Sacrifice, Family Relationships, Identity, Truth
Wrinkle In Time Summary: “There is such a thing as a tesseract.”. Meg knew she and her family were odd, but until the stranger appeared and spoke those words, Meg didn’t realize how right they were in their oddness. The things her parents are experimenting with are real. The dangers are real. The hope is real. And the hope of their dad returning home again is very real – if Meg and Charles Wallace and their neighbor Calvin will accept the challenge of going after him.
Wind In The Door Summary: Mitochondritis? Frandolae? Do these words actually refer to something real? Most assume not, but Meg believes it. Her mom is convinced something is wrong with Charles Wallace’s Farandolae and that explains why he seems so sickly these days. Whatever it is causing this is getting worse. So Meg, Calvin and a cherubim named Proginoskes set off on an adventure inside of Charles Wallace to see if they can discover the problem and stop it. The problem is that the Echthroi want to X them – extinguish, destroy, annihilate them and Charles Wallace. And time is running out.
A Swiftly Tilting Planet Summary: Power. It can be used for good or bad. When Mr. Murry gets a call from the president Thanksgiving night, the Murry family gets a glimpse of power used for evil. Mad Dog Branzillo is determined to set of a nuclear bomb, starting a nuclear war that will destroy the planet. It’s the person one would least expect who holds the answers this time, the one person who still knows the rune to call upon Heaven and all it’s power to stand between them and the powers of darkness. It’s Charles Wallace’s turn for the adventure and this one requires going back in time, tracing a lineage of those with the blue eyes holding the power of the rune, the power to heal or hurt, the power to build or destroy.
Many Waters Summary: Ignoring signs can be pretty dangerous when those signs are on a door of a scientist’s lab. That’s what the twins, Sandy and Denny find out as for once, they are the ones to experience an adventure. Everything thinks of them as the normal ones, the two in the family who can easily fit in with regular society. Even ordinary people can experience extraordinary things though. A click of a computer button and the twins find themselves in the desert… thousands of years in the past! It seems their desire for somewhere warm and isolated led them to the world right before the flood. Next thing they know they’re battling Nephilim, falling in love, and helping build a boat in the desert. Trouble is, God’s commands only allowed room for 8 specific people on the ark – none of whom are Sandy and Dennys.
Notes: The first in the Time Quartet, A Wrinkle In Time is a classic book, winner of a Newberry Medal and recognized as a pioneer in the Science Fiction genre. It’s a mixture of Biblical truth, modern/realistic drama, science fiction and the author’s own unique worldview. A Wind In The Door, Many Water and A Swiftly Tilting Planet follow this same pattern. Madeline L’Engle believed herself to be a Christian and even wrote Biblical commentaries. However, her theology does not all line up with Scripture. She picks and chooses parts of the Bible to hold to and parts to reject and created her own belief system from that. In A Wrinkle In Time, she explores themes such as the power of love, being who you were created to be, and figuring out how to fit in with those around you. Her idea of a “happy medium” is portrayed in a character by that name who uses a crystal ball to show scenes from other places. She also focuses heavily on the idea of “naming” – each creature has a name and to take it’s name is to destroy it. Another note is that the author has characters that are identified as female but appear as male.  Throughout the series she also makes reference to Biblical principles but has the characters refer to them as “mythology”. Overall, I would not label these books as particularly Christian. It is best viewed as straight fantasy that does not hold to a Biblical worldview.
Spiritual Content Recommendation Scale: 1/5
Reviewer: J:-)mi

1 Thessalonians 5:21 - Test everything. Hold on to the good.