Sunday, November 29, 2009

Finding God's Purpose in Our Pain

Finding Purpose Beyond our pain is a very balanced and helpful look at why God allows pain in the world. When we are in the midst of a difficult life situation, we are often tempted to ask the question: Why me, God? This book gives an answer.

Pain is an opportunity to grow and to find a better relationship with Jesus. I found the book quite balanced. It provides a framework to look at your life situation and try to see the lessons behind your present troubles. The authors have chosen to deal with several of the most difficult life situations: injustice, rejection, loneliness, loss, discipline, failure and death. In each case, they discuss their experiences with real people experiencing these problems and finding in them an opportunity for growth.

I don't believe this book is the perfect antidote to suffering, but I do think that it has a positive message that can help the sufferer bear his trials and learn from them. I found it a very hopeful book. I'm sure that people can argue with the theology, but the underlying message is clear: Don't wallow in your pain; use it as an impetus to improve your outlook on life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Engaging Fantasy – But You Need to Be a Fan

Green is promoted as the book that is both the beginning and the end of his latest four book series. Supposedly you can read this book without the other books and still understand and enjoy it. Unfortunately, if you're not familiar with the other books, including his previous books, and the characters, you can find yourself rereading passages to find out what you're missing.

Dekker's forte is in writing action scenes. The end of the book pulls you in and definitely keeps you reading as the characters race to meet their destinies. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the book drags. Some of this is due to the confusion of moving not only between worlds, but between the beginning and the end.

To add to the confusion, there are many unusual characters with specific histories. At times, I found it difficult to keep them, and their various roles in the story, straight. By the end, I felt I had figured out the inhabitants of the future world, but the middle was often rough going, particularly if you had to put the book down for any length of time.

However, if you like fantasy with a Christian background, you'll enjoy the book – and probably want to read the other books in Dekker's series.