Thursday, December 12, 2013

Samson: A Savior Will Rise

This book really hit home for me. My father lived on the polish boarder during WWII and my uncle was taken away to a concentration camp at the age of 16 to be worked and tortured to death. I’ve heard the stories, but never so detailed, never so graphic. The truth is the details and graphic descriptions, I think, are essential to try and capture the true horrors of the holocaust. Simply hearing and understanding history is one thing, but in reading Samson, the details and graphic descriptions of the horrors and struggles that prisoners faced allowed me to be transported into the time and place. It was as if I was one of the prisoners looking on to the events of Samson’s life.

I could feel the characters, I went through the emotions, my stomach would twist and my eyes would get watery. I cheered Samson on, I felt as though I knew him. This book is drama at its finest, but it’s not just drama – it’s reality, which is just incredibly difficult to comprehend.

Although this book is not for the faint of heart, and definitely not for children, it is a riveting, fantastic representation of the horrors that occurred just a few decades ago. The characters helped strengthen my theology and the author helped deepen my understanding of history. I come away with a greater appreciation for all those that spoke up and fought back against the face of evil.

Thank you to booksneeze for blessing me with a copy of this book.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Spiritual World of the Hobbit

I love Tolkien’s work, love The Hobbit and love LOTR. I am also a passionate Christ follower and so couldn't wait to see the connection between the two. I found The Spiritual World of the Hobbit to be a beautiful guide to the masterful story. Having finished reading The Silmarillion and The Hobbit just days before embarking into this book I was curious to how James S. Bell would weave the spiritual world into The Hobbit. The Silmarillion made the spiritual world obvious, it was hard to miss the connection and similarities between J.R.R. Tolkien’s Iluvatar and the God of the Bible; however I found it rather difficult to see the spiritual connections in The Hobbit. That’s where this book opened up my eyes to the themes and relations I wouldn't have otherwise seen or guessed.

Reading The Silmarillion was hard work! It was a complex book, but without it the reader will miss much of the spiritual context of The Hobbit. James S. Bell does a fabulous job filling in the reader about the character backgrounds, how they were created, where they came from, and what their purpose was in Middle-earth. To anyone that has not read The Silmarillion, this book will fill in many of the missing pieces of The Hobbit and LOTR and provide a depth of understanding to the rich story.

As for the spiritual aspect, I was thoroughly pleased how James S. Bell weaved the spiritual into the mythical. Bell did not use allegory to explain the spiritual, as J.R.R. Tolkien never intended to use allegory, but instead displayed a beautiful parallel between Tolkien’s work and the Bible.

Any LOTR lover will love this book. Thank you to Bethany House publishers for providing me with a copy of this book to review. May God bless you as you enjoy this book.