Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Begotten 2: Accentuate the Positive

So what's right with Lisa T. Bergren's The Begotten? Many things, most of which may seem minor. But then, most of the points that bothered me are relatively small as well: if I weren't a multifaceted geek, I wouldn't have spotted them and might not care. But the good points I spotted and did care about are worth mentioning.

Characterization and description are well handled. There is only one time (p 314) where I thought characters had switched places--based on hormones, I expected Rune to have Vito's response and vice versa. But considering the size of the cast, that's not bad, and even that case may be justifiable.

There are some minor points that may be coincidence, but if not, they're somewhat clever. For example, the main story takes place in Siena in 1339, eight years before Catherine of Siena was born there. I can't help wondering whether that will come up in a later book, at least indirectly. Second, it's ironic that Siena at that point was ruled by the Nine in a kind of counterpoint to the Gifted, who draw their gifts from among the nine listed in 1 Cor 12:8-10. (For Pentecostals and Charismatics, it's interesting that the two missing from the Gifted's list are tongues and interpretation.)

But one of the most important things about a story is how it ends. I enjoyed the ending of The Begotten (and not in the sarcastic "I enjoyed that it was over" sense), and that improved my overall view of the story. Bergren appears to understand that spiritual problems require spiritual solutions. A lot of Christian writers today try to resolve spiritual matters through human cleverness of some kind, and I even get the impression occasionally that they have to have a physical, mechanistic explanation for anything spiritual. That would make spiritual phenomena just a subset of the natural world, which would agree with what the atheists claim. The fact that Bergren affirms the spiritual is itself important.

Tomorrow I'll tackle the things that yanked on my gag reflex and present my conclusion on the matter.

Other blogs on the tour:
Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Jackie Castle
Karri Compton
CSFF Blog Tour
Gene Curtis
D. G. D. Davidson
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Beth Goddard
Marcus Goodyear
Todd Michael Greene
Michael Heald
Christopher Hopper
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Terri Main
Melissa Meeks
Pamela Morrisson
John W. Otte
Ashley Rutherford
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Stuart Stockton
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise


Christopher Hopper said...

Huh! No that's cool! I didn't pick up on either of those co-oinky-doinks! Very thought provoking!

I did, however, notice the tongues and interpretation element (OK...I'm a Pentecostal/Charismatic!). The one time tongues does appear is with a traitor. Implication? Or is it suggesting that the traitor was indeed saved and bore a true gift, but chose to walk away? Suppose that's a question for Lisa!

So I have to come back tomorrow for what you didn't like? Gosh...

OK, you got me.


Terri said...


I agree with you that the ending was satisfying. I was afraid that they would come up with some sort of almost magical use of the gifts to blow up their adversaries or something of that sort, but they didn't use physical means or use spiritual gifts in a physical way, they appealed directly to revelation of God. I liked that a lot.

Today, I wrote about a few of my theological concerns with the book from a Pentecostal/Charismatic perspective.


Steve said...

We should remember that there are counterfeit gifts. Christians aren't the only ones who speak in tongues; various pseudo-Christian cults and non-Christian religions also feature glossolalia.

Terri said...

Yes, Steve, there are counterfiets of EVERY gift, but it seems that the one people focus most on is tongues. I have been told that I am of the devil because I speak in tongues. Others have doubted my sanity (well that may be fair, but not because of the tongues).

I guess, my problem is this. If you accept that the gifts, as special empowerments of the holy spirit to specific people did not end with the apostolic era, as many teach, then why relegate two gifts which Paul lists on equal footing with the other 7 in I Cor 12 to second class status. Paul gives some instructions about the use of tongues in I Cor 14, but he also tells every one that he speaks in tongues as much as anyone.

I mean you can relegate all the gifts to the apostolic era or accept them all for today, but there isn't a Biblical justification to just take 7 and leave out 2 (actually leave out several more like helps, administration, teaching, and a bunch of others).

But I have to say I did like the book. I disagreed with some of the implied theology and needed to address that in any review I did, but on balance, it was enjoyable.


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