Saturday, December 27, 2008


Every once in a great while I will actually read a novel. This past week I read House by Frank Preretti and Ted Dekker.

Now I have read most of Peretti's books. I remember reading This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness when I first became a Christian. A few years later Peretti wrote one of my favorites, The Oath. He also wrote Monster, which is simply fantastic. As for Dekker, I have no idea who he is and at this point, don't care.

I have mixed feelings about this 2006 co-authored story of a couples' marital struggle. Now I hardly ever read Novels. The only novel I have read in the past decade that Peretti did not write was Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer. So my comments will obviously not be helpful, but I'll share them anyway.

The story takes place in the Alabama south and offers stereo types of back water hicks. This style is completely backwards from Monster. In Monster I felt as if Peretti went to Idaho and lived there. I most certainly do not get that sense with this book, but it doesn't need to be. This book is fiction all the way. (Did Dekker write the majority of this book?)

The first few chapters reminded me of the fear that Burt Reynold's character had in Deliverance. As the book progressed the real fear was turned from external circumstances to the inward fears of our own sinfulness. This seemed to be the thrust of the book. Men are not only enslaved to their particular sins, but the evil in their hearts. This was the book's strength and weakness. The main character's resolution left me unresolved. On the cover of the book Ralph Winter (I have no idea who he is) is quoted as saying,
"They had me ripping through the pages...then blew me away with a final I never saw coming."
My thoughts were the opposite. It was an ending I hoped would not happen and did.

I was a bit confused. After painting a vivid picture of Jack's sinfulness, the authors write on page 341 a conversation between husband and wife, Jack and Stephanie, and Susan.
"But they're real," he said. "Their axes are real--"

"Of course they're real. I am not saying you should walk right into them. But there are greater powers beyond what you can see." [Susan]

"God? You're saying this is about God? Some huge whatever in the sky set this up?"

"You set it up."

"What are you talking about? We were just driving by when White slashed our tires and lured us to this hellish house."

"It's your house."

"That's crazy."

"It draws most of its power from you. We've been over this! Accept it, Jack. You're at the heart of the battle between good and evil."

"I've prayed to God," Stephanie said. It sounded like a question.

"Prayed? But do you believe? Really believe? And do you know how to love, really love?"

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart," Jack said quietly. "Love your neighbor as yourself. Isn't that a famous teaching? Jesus?" He hesitated, meaning settled in his mind like a falling snow. "So what's love look like in a house of horrors?"

"The same way it's always looked," Susan said. Then added after a pause, "It's not just what you do, it's who you are. You've got to change who you are. That's how you change the house. You'll have to see it; words don't mean much at times like this."
I won't spoil the rest if you decide to read this book, but perhaps you might see my confusion. The house reflects his own evil heart. The mode to fixing the world Jack has screwed up is to love...I think. The ending adds another means of fixing Jack's world. So I am not certain if this a Gnostic theology or something else.

For instance notice the line "It draws most of its power from you. We've been over this! Accept it, Jack. You're at the heart of the battle between good and evil."

Does this mean that Jack's heart has the capacity for both good and evil? Or does it mean God is fighting the Devil for his soul and Jack is the deciding factor? In other words, is this the God has voted for you, the Devil has voted against you, now you must cast the deciding vote, mentality?

To be certain there is much truth in the story line. I just didn't feel resolved. I feel like I have only moved on in my sin. The same confusion may be seen through Evangelicalism. Preaching Christ's work on the cross is external. Yet we are always being preached to "experience" the "born again" experience. We are told simultaneously to look to Jesus while doing so inwardly. This book shares that confusion.

If we are going to talk about inner struggles, I prefer the movies Signs and Unbreakable.

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