I am using my recovery time to do some reading. I was given The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver during a Secret Santa exchange at work, so I saved it for after my surgery. I have been reading it over the past four days and here is what I think:
This book is about a family who become missionaries to the Congo and it follows their paths through the political unrest and transformation of this country in the 1960's - 1980's. Written from the voices of the mother and her four daughters, you find yourself being drawn into the realities and hardships of being unpreparedly (not a real word...lol...but I am using it anyways!) plopped down in the middle of a whole new culture. We learn about the father through the eyes of his wife and daughters and we don't like him at all. He is legalistic and cruel and even as we find the circumstances that lead him to that position in life, it is much too late and his character is never redeemed in the readers eyes.
While well written (I couldn't put it down), I was greatly disappointed in the book overall. All of the characters lose their faith and not one ends up breathing in contentment, despite a healed body for one and committed love and family for another. I remember when the movie, Fame came out and leaving the theater I remarked how depressed that movie left me feeling. My sister-in-law replied, "Well, that's real life." This book left me feeling the same void and emptiness. I think the portrayal of faith was from a viewpoint bereft of a relationship with God, presenting truth as an individual creation of a mind or collective culture. If there is no substantial truth (and the author presented none, other than America, Christianity, and the white race are the enemy...at least that was my take), then we are really left with no truth and great purposelessness and brokenness for our characters, indeed for mankind.
I am glad I read this book for the following reasons:
1. It is well written and gave me a peek into history and a culture that I might not have taken.
2. Christians can become so isolated that we forget or are unaware of what "religion", lacking the truth of a relationship with God and the revelation of the Holy Spirit, can look like to others. The ouch factor here will be a reminder to me for a long time.
3. This book provides alot of material for comtemplating the question, "Can man live without God?"
4. I got somewhat of a glimpse of what my friend, Abby, will/has experienced in embracing her new life in South Africa.
5. While looking for an image, I came across this website for an online bookclub. The whole idea really intrigues me.
My next book is "Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain" by Oliver Sacks.