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Compromising Positions

| 27.9.10
Compromising Positions, by Jenna Bayley-Burke

I don't normally read romances. This was another Kindle freebie. As of today, this breezy, easy, steamy read ranks as the most popular free Kindle book on Amazon.com.

I don't have much to say about the story itself, just that it made me think about the differences between men and women when it comes to romance and sexual fantasy. While it's difficult to generalize about the sexes, and still worse to generalize about a genre based on reading single book, I came away from reading this realizing that while men might fantasize about passionate sex with a beautiful woman, women fantasize about passionate sex with a handsome man who is tall, rich, emotionally available, nearly perfect yet flawed in a way that she can fix, with prospects of marriage and children down the road.

Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: Samhain Publishing (January 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1605043125
ISBN-13: 978-1605043128

Edge of Apocalypse

| 20.9.10
Edge of Apocalypse, by Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall

After reading Marcus Borg's Putting Away Childish Things it seemed appropriate to immediately read an evangelical didactic novel and see where the contrasts were the most stark. In this regard Edge of Apocalypse, the latest by Tim LaHaye, did not disappoint.

As an aside I must admit that I didn't go out looking to read this book, but it dropped into my lap serendipitously. I recently purchased a Kindle, and Amazon has been giving away free ebook versions of many popular romance and Christian novels. Edge of Apocalypse was a freebie.

Borg and LaHaye paint startlingly different pictures of the world in which we live, flowing from their different theological and philosophical convictions. Borg's novel is set primarily in a small Midwestern university town, with a religious studies professor as the main character. LaHaye's novel is country and world-spanning, with a military hero turned defense contractor and entrepreneur in the starring role.

Borg's world is tranquil and self-reflective. The most valued traits his characters possess are the ability to reason through a problem, using a combination of intellect, study, prayer, relationships, community, and spiritual practices to slowly yet comprehensively work through a problem, discerning the best solution. God doesn't intervene in a supernatural or miraculous way, but is instead seen as working through the discernment process and through the hearts, minds, hands, and feet of people within the community.

LaHaye's world is apocalyptic. Time is running out. The most valued traits his characters possess are the ability to quickly make judgments in a crisis, determine right from wrong, then act decisively on the side of what is right. There is no such thing as random chance or coincidence in LaHaye's world. Instead the characters interpret such things as evidence of answered prayer and God's supernatural intervention on this side of God's people and what is right. While technical and logistical complexity exists in LaHaye's universe, his characters never struggle with complex moral issues. Moral choices are always crystal clear.

One of the things I found most telling about the two authors were the way they handled characters meant to represent their ideological opposition. For Borg this was the evangelical youth group leader and some of the members of his flock. For LaHaye this was represented by the Vice President in a U.S. administration dedicated to an internationalist foreign policy opposed by the main character. Inevitably in a didactic novel the author's side wins the argument. However I felt that Borg's opposing characters were faithful if simplified representations of the other viewpoint. They were still good people that meant well even if they were "wrong." LaHaye, on the other hand, felt the need to paint all opposing characters as evil and nefarious, above and beyond just opposing his ideology. Maybe this is part and parcel of the apocalyptic world view --is it possible to have sympathetic "bad guys" in an apocalyptic story?

In the end, I'd much rather live in Marcus Borg's literary, theological, and philosophical universe. For me his vision is far more sustaining --"good for you," if you will. Yet the appeal of Tim LaHaye's literary world is not lost on me. Edge of Apocalypse was an exciting page-turner and much more interesting to read than Borg's novel, but more like a spiritual bag of potato chips than good nourishing food.

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Zondervan (April 20, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310326281

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