Let's look at the stengths of Bryan Davis’s Beyond the Reflection’s Edge. There are a lot of them, but a few seemed to stand out:
Faith. I mean this in a broad sense. This really is Christian speculative fiction: the story wouldn't make sense at various points without the Christian outlook and just the relationship with God held by various characters. Also, the theology involved is generally accurate, though I'll ding him on a theological point tomorrow. At a time when discouragement is all around me, especially in the form of Christians who have conformed to worldly views, I am delighted to say that some writers bother to push hard against the current.
In fact, the result is what I have sometimes called "Literary Lifestyle Evangelism": instead of thinly disguising a sermon or evangelistic tract as a story, Davis puts a Christian in an unusual situation and shows how he lives out his faith. You can blow off a sermon, but you'll pay attention to a well-written example. Such things can capture not just the intellectual imagination but the moral imagination, and there's too little of that these days.
Thus, the fact that Nathan is sexually pure is presented as a good thing, and I think a reader will gain a biblical view of the matter. There are reasons for God's rules, and the way Nathan acts should put them on even a very neglected moral radar.
Ease. Purely for want of a better term, I use this for ease of reading and for the fluency of writing that allows Davis to introduce various topics without boring the reader. He doesn't always pursue them quite as far as I might like, but he at least suggests answers on some theological points. For example, since the different versions of Earth aren't synchronized, a trip to the one that's furthest behind amounts to a trip back in time, so in one case Nathan is given a chance to prevent a fatal accident. Are the people involved predestined to die? What is Nathan's duty--to try to save the people or bow to the will of God, if indeed it is his will? The question is more complex than most people would imagine, and Davis does not trivialize it.
Culture. Not to be elitist, but the feel of the story is intelligent and refined. It's good to be reminded occasionally that until recently, Western culture was Christian culture. When God moved among the lower classes, especially in America, the usual suspicion of the elite led to rejection of culture. It wasn't really a religious thing, though some paint Evangelicals as hostile to culture. Rather, it was sociological, and unfortunately we didn't resist the current. Again, the story helps set that straight. Perhaps we can reclaim what is actually part of our Christian heritage.
Tomorrow I'll have a post that will probably cause some readers' heads to explode, as I'll not only explore a theological issue but give an alternative that will probably tick off a lot of people.
In the meantime, check out the other members of the CSFF tour:
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Todd Michael Greene
Rebecca LuElla Miller
John W. Otte
Mirtika or Mir's Here
1 year ago