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Book Review: The Prodigal God & Crispin:The Cross of Lead

December 12, 2011
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Wow! Two superb books that I can’t wait to recommend.

The Prodigal God by Timothy Keller brought light to an often overlooked facet of the parable in Luke 15 of the Two Lost Sons, commonly called the Prodigal Son. Years ago I became convinced that this story, like the others in the chapter, dealt with lost items: a sheep, a coin, and a son. But I had never considered that this account dealt with two sons, equally lost.

The author shows us how much these brothers have much more in common than it appears. After the younger brother returns in humility to the Father, and both boys are invited to a feast, but he story ends with the older brother still outside.

I was challenged to recognize myself in one of these two sons. Did I want what the Father had to give and what (I thought) I could earn from Him, or did I simply want the Father and all that He is?

Tim Keller says that the gospel is not found on a spectrum between two poles, but something different altogether. Life’s answers are not found in following all the rules or rejecting all of them.

We are invited to a feast of the Father. The Father is the recklessly extravagant one who has spent everything. He is the prodigal, for that is the very definition of the word. We are not invited because we have earned or un-earned God’s favor. We are invited because of God’s grace. And that grace came at a great cost to Him.

In the crowd that heard Jesus that day, there were “sinners” and Pharisees. We may have different names for those group today, but they are still the ones gathering around. When they hear the parable, do they understand that both of the sons that are repesentatives of those groups are equally lost?

Read this book. It won’t change how you look at the world, it will change how you look at yourself.

What a treat to read Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi to my children. This author had the ability to keep every one of us entertained and wanting more. I don’t think a day went by when they didn’t ask me to read “just a little bit more.” And most days I did read more. It was that good!

It opens in a small village of Stromford. We are the only attendants at a funeral, except for the woman’s son and the priest. In his despair, the son runs into the woods. There he accidentally witnesses a meeting between the village steward and a stranger.

And if being without any family wasn’t enough, his home is burned and he is accused of theft. Declared a “wolf’s head,” thereby giving any the right to kill him, he runs away, but not before secretly visiting the priest. Of course the priest knows something more of this boy’s history than his mother was willing to tell him, but unfortunately all the priest can tell the boy is that his rightful name is Crispin. Father Quinnel is murdered before he can share anything more.

The boy has no earthly possession, except a lead cross that had belonged to his mother. He hopes to escape Stromford and remain alive.

He will meet with a giant man who is a wandering jester by trade, and possibly a spy. Bear will take the boy under his wing and teach him to play the pipe and juggle. Together they will travel toward the town of Great Wexly.  Several times on their long journey they realize that the boy is still being hunted.

Bear, and educated man, reads the writing on the leaden cross and understands that Crispin is not just a peasant boy. Bear also knows the danger Crispin is in. However, Crispin, who is  overwhelmed with the knowledge that he has a name, certainly could not understand the ramifications of that name.

Throughout all the action of the story, of hiding and being found and travel far from home, the boy first finds his true self and then finds who he is by birth. In the end, he must choose to follow only one of those paths, because they lead in different directions.

This tale was full of great vocabulary, characters, and settings. Carl was able to follow right along and we were all at the edge of our seat to find out what happened next.

What are you reading these days?

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