Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Beyond the Reflection’s Edge 2: Good Points

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:
Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Justin Boyer
Keanan Brand
Kathy Brasby
Jackie Castle
Valerie Comer
Courtney
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Joyner
Kait
Mike Lynch
Magma
Terri Main
Margaret
Rachel Marks
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
Nissa
John W. Otte
Ashley Rutherford
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Chawna Schroeder
Greg Slade
James Somers
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

2 comments:

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

You? Tick people off, Steve? What could possibly make you think that would ever happen!?! LOL

Interestingly, I dinged the book in my review for the "faith elements." I agree that Nathan has good morals, but I would like to see more relationship, not a lone-ranger, "I can do this" attitude, which I see in Nathan more than I'd like.

But yes, there are many things to like.

Becky

KEANAN BRAND said...

Ya know, I never even took notes about the Christian aspects of the book. Guess I was too caught up in writing down my likes and dislikes of other aspects of the book. Nathan's wish to maintain respect and purity in his relationship with Kelly was obvious, and I did wonder what Davis was going to do about God's connection to those other dimensions. I speed-read my way through some portions (I was bored, sad to say), and found myself riveted by others. For me, BTRE was a mixed bag.

 
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