Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book Review: Cross Roads

Some time ago, I read and reviewed The Shack written by W. Paul Young.  I was blessed that he found my review and left a comment.  I hope he does again, but if not, oh well.  He’s a bit busier now that he is a famous published author probably.

I just finished reading Cross Roads last night.  Like The Shack, it did not disappoint in enlightenment, and offered some new weirdness. 

Don’t get me wrong, weirdness is not bad.  I like weirdness.  But there was quite a bit of weirdness.

While The Shack offered an experience akin to an expository dream, Crossroads delves more into the realm of spiritual fantasy.  The main character Tony spends a good deal of time knocking about in other people’s minds, not just as a silent passenger, but as an active participant in their stories.

As Mr. Young seems to be able to do, this book brought tears to my eyes on several occasions.  Once or twice, I wept silently in my bed in the dark where I do most of my reading.  He very effectively presents a redemption story, though a worse human being I have rarely heard of.  Short of murder and rape, this guy was a really bad guy.  Imagine remarrying your ex-wife just so you can divorce her again, stick it in her face, and have the police escort her and your children from your own house which you bought out from under her while throwing her a get the hell out party.  This dude was mean.  There are other things that I consider even worse, but which I won’t tell you here because it’s a bit of a plot point.  He was a bad guy.

But when he suffers an accident and is laying on his death bed, his journey of redemption and salvation begins.  It’s the journey of a wicked and broken man finding out that God still loves him no matter how horrible he is.

Paul Young introduces us to Jesus and the Holy Spirit again though this time around the Holy Spirit takes the form of a different woman, a Native American.  Papa God doesn’t appear personally, but his presence is felt and spoken of thought Tony’s adventures while his body lay dying.

Jesus and the Holy Spirit live in a land through which Tony travels.  Jesus has a run down house and Grandmother (as she is called) lives in a “hovel” which is small and sparsely furnished.  But she’s still a good cook.  What these homes are supposed to represent is the space in our hearts, the space for which we have provided room for God.  I imagine in some spiritual giant’s heart, the homes would be large, well kept, and lavish.  But in Tony’s (an effective atheist) heart, only small homes were provided.

Like Paul Young’s last offering, this book provides a resource in dealing with loss.  The honest truth about the Bible is that it doesn’t offer much effective therapy for those grieving a loved one, whether that grief be due to death, disease, defect, or defection.  We mourn for those who we loved who have died, but we also mourn for those who are taken from us for some other reason, maybe Down’s Syndrome or some other genetic disorder which robs us of our full mental capacity.  A parent mourns for the lost opportunities, for lost baseball games, for lost report cards, for lost first words and first steps.  And honestly, the Bible doesn’t help us much with those.  But sometimes we meet a person who is much more in tune with how to deal with grief, and usually it's because they have grieved.  Paul Young is one such person in my eyes.

The overarching message of The Shack to me was “God’s ways are not our ways.”  For this book, I’d say it’s something like “I will never leave you.”  God is there to comfort, share pain, to love you and to hug you.  And he wants to redeem you always.  You’ll never reach a point where God gives up on you and leaves you completely even if you push him out completely.  He still wants you and he’ll always come back if you’ll have him.  Like Mr. Young said in The Shack, God is not just a better version of you.

I really enjoyed this book.  I recommend it to anyone.  Maybe it won’t keep you glued from the first page to the last and maybe it will, but it tells a story and the story has a lot of feeling and emotion and even meaning.  I hope you enjoy it too.