Favorite summer book of 2011

Walking the famous labyrinth on floor of Chart...

Image via Wikipedia

In
architecture, a labyrinth is a construction consisting of a path that spirals
inward; they are often inlaid in the tiled floor of a church, or in a garden
space. They are a type of puzzle, sometimes called a maze. Some have many paths
that lead to the center, but ultimately there is only one true path and one
true center. Labyrinths are places of discovery – both internal and external
discovery. To my mind, a book written in a ‘labyrinthine’ style would be a
composition that is a mystery, or a puzzle, which combines spiraling, kaleidoscopic
plot lines created to bring the reader a sense of adventure, tension,
involvement and internal and external discovery. The Seraph Seal, by Lori Wagner and Leonard Sweet, is just such a
book, and is my favorite book of the summer of 2011.

This is a
book about end times, centered on the figures of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse
– and there the comparisons to all the other end times books stops. Seraph Seal does not fit the pattern of
other end time stories, and that is one of the things I truly appreciate about this
exciting and suspenseful book. Here’s why: I think our generation has done
exactly what the generations who waited for the Lord’s first arrival did – we have
decided that Jesus must return in a tightly specific way because of our
interpretation of the scriptures. Who were the ones who completely missed
Christ’s humble birth? It was those who knew the scriptures backward and
forward, and should have been the first to recognize Him. The Seraph Seal made
me think differently about Christ’s second coming. I had to take a serious look
at the way I put God’s Word in a strangle-hold of my own interpretation. That
was a moment of internal discovery for me.

As in his
non-fiction, Dr. Sweet has made good use of the information in our present age
to help us imagine the future. Technologies, social networking, imperiled
earth, air, fire and water, and a non or anti-Christian culture in America and
the world ring too true to be comfortable. In fact, my only criticism of the
book is that it is so dark. I don’t know whose idea it was, Dr Sweet’s or Ms
Wagner’s, to include the character Seraphim in the book, but I am very thankful
for the beautiful image and levity that the hymn singing bird brings to the story!

Another
valuable discovery, an external one this time,  was that as much as I want a ‘new heaven and a
new earth’ to appear (Rev 21:1), I cannot expect anything new to come
painlessly. It was hard to read page after page of destruction described as the
old earth fell away in The Seraph Seal. And yet, there must be some kind of
tearing down of the old to have anything new appear. It made me pay closer
attention the first two words of the five word prayer that John the Revelator
exclaims at the conclusion of the book of Revelation, “Even so, come Lord
Jesus.”

I loved the
ending of the Seraph Seal, too. It was surprising, imaginative and hopeful:
like the well being we feel when a mystery has been solved, or when we have
walked successfully through a labyrinth.

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