Thursday, September 02, 2004
I just wrote a review of John Eldreges's new book "Epic." It is currently on display at the Barnes & Noble.com web site, under the pen name "Theoron." I sent it to Amazon.com as well, and hopefully it will be published by them soon.
For your consideration, I'm posting my review right here. Enjoy!
A review of the book “Epic” by John Eldredge
Upon beginning to read Eldredge’s latest book, I found myself with a knife in one hand, a razor in the other, ready to cut, shred, slice and dice my way through--what I had falsely believed-- was going to be another milquetoast, week-kneed “inspirational” piece of nonsense foisted upon the unsuspecting masses. How very wrong my initial perceptions were! Rather than cutting and ripping my way through this book, I found my self pleasantly delighted by each wonderful page. I can honestly say that this is the best little book I’ve read in the past year.
What is it about certain stories that capture the imagination and adoration of so many people? Just in the past fifty years or so, we have had the great pleasure of being blessed with many wonderful stories, both in book and film, like “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Star Wars,” “The Matrix,” “Titanic” and a host of others. Something about these films and stories spoke to us on a deep, emotional level, bypassing our analytical minds and moving upon us in a genuinely spiritual fashion. Eldredge has discovered the common theme that unites all these wonderful stories, and shows us how they all are very similar to the Greatest Story Ever Told.
Could it be that all these famous, well known stories have become so popular because there is something in us that wants, or possibly even knows that they are true? Whether it be the heroics displayed upon the decks of the sinking Titanic, or the courageousness of two lonely little hobbits trekking across forlorn lands to destroy ultimate evil, there is something about those stories that we wish were true for ourselves. But what if these stories could, in fact, be speaking of a reality that is available for us? Is it possible that we too could live “happily ever after” upon completion of a heroic deed? The surprising but honest answer Eldredge gives us is a resounding “yes.”
The ultimate story of all history is that of the God/man Jesus. Here is a man who lived a simple, but powerful life. He was a champion and a friend to many, and a bitter enemy and a thorn in the side of a few. But those few were the power-brokers of the day, and decided it would be convenient to do away with this miracle worker who so rudely upset their conscience. But the miracle worker, so quickly and violently put to death, had one last message he wanted to deliver before he left this planet: death is NOT the end, but the beginning of Real Life.
Eldredge correctly points out that films like “Titanic” and “Gladiator” succeed because they plainly show that there is life after death, there is a happy ending no matter the tragedy. Isn’t that what we long for, hope for, pray for? Our lives are not just meaningless little accidents that are the results of random chemical reactions, but we are here for a purpose, not matter how wonderful or horrible the circumstances around us. But the purpose does not reach it’s ultimate fulfillment until we’ve reconciled with the Son of God.
In this short, six chapter book, Eldredge presents us with God’s plan of salvation. But though he quotes from the Bible where appropriate, the book never, ever becomes one of those dry, dull theological treatments that read more like a recipe for meatloaf than an introduction to the living God. Theological terminology has been banned from this book, and it is all the better for it. Rather than aiming at the brain, Eldredge correctly and expertly aims at the heart, and hits the bulls-eye page after page. This book is the finest gospel presentation I’ve ever come across in my many years of Christianity.
But there is a group who will hate this gem of a book, who will easily find tremendous fault with it. They would be the modern Pharisees of today, the holier-than-thou religious folk who can’t stand a presentation of Jesus that can’t be read without a theological dictionary in one hand and a King James Bible in the other. Poor folks, they will be greatly missed (not!)
If I could, I’d give “Epic” one hundred stars. Five just isn’t enough.