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But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness,

godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. ~ 1 Timothy 6:11

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Now and at the Hour of Our Death Book Review

I just finished a book written by my friend JSB Morse called Now and at the Hour of Our Death.  The premise of the book is striking: How would the modern world react if the miracle of a virgin birth happened today?  

The Plot

The story is told through the eyes of Mary, a young woman in high school, a devout Catholic, and the recipient of a miracle.  Mary's father is running for the US Senate so news of his daughter's illegitimate pregnancy causes a scandal that impacts countless lives in unexpected ways.  

Time and again we get to see how various paradigms react when confronted with this surprising claim.  Tensions rise as opinions clash and, before long, many have staked their reputation on whether this girl is telling the truth.

All the while, Mary is dealing with a teen pregnancy and struggling to use this miracle for the conversion and hearts, minds and souls.  But how can she possibly do that if she can't even convince her own family?

As the book climaxes many lives are changed permanently because they stood up for their varied and conflicting beliefs and refused to back down.  When the book ends you are left breathless and wondering, how would I react to same thing?

The Good

There are a lot of good points about the book, but the most important is its incredible treatment of the characters.  JSB Morse did three amazing things:
  1. He created a large and diverse cast of characters, representing vastly different paradigms
  2. He made each of these personalities feel real, with touching stories and sound logic for their opinions
  3. He was fair in his treatment, revealing that all positions have good guys and bad guys
The result was very believable dialogues and highly entertaining interactions.  You feel what the characters feel and understand their anger, joy, and sadness.  

The Bad

Which leads me to my next point.  This book is visceral.  And it might be too much so for some readers.

The vivid descriptions of societal decay in the book left me wincing.  It was hard to finish some of his paragraphs that fully indulged the materialistic, misogynistic elements of our culture.  It was sickening to read the hate-filled thoughts of a bigot.  He did a brutally good job of making you feel your disgust for the parts of our lives we try to ignore.

Why You Should Read It

That being said, it was a page-turner.  I had a hard time putting it down...and once I did my wife couldn't put it down.  I highly recommend this book to everyone for two reasons.

First, this novel is written from a point of view that, I feel, has not been captured in fiction in the past decade.  How refreshing to read a book that is not written from the point of view of a disenchanted skeptic but, rather, a well-formed believer.  For anyone who champions the value of diversity, this books represents a voice that is rarely heard and a face that is rarely seen. 

Second, this book is provocative.  It forces you to feel.  It causes you to think.  And it makes you wonder.  It confronts you about your personal beliefs and the beliefs of others.  And it presents problems there may not be answers to.  

Long story short, I can’t give a better summary than this: 
This visceral story made me wince, made me laugh, made me cry, made me think, and made me pray. When was the last time you read a book that did that?
I would love to hear your thoughts on the book in the comments!

Keep pursuing,

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