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Thursday, 17 October 2013

Book Review 'Crossroads' by Wm Paul Young

On a chance visit to our nearest Christian Book Shop (which isn't actually all that near at all...) I saw a big display of books. I would have ignored it apart from the tiny sticker indicting it was by the author of 'The Shack' (which I saw has sold 18million copies!) - if you've read it, like marmite, you'll either love it or hate it. (Most love it but find the subject matter very hard to read - the main character's young daughter is abducted and murdered). I loved The Shack and so on an impulse I bought Crossroads and subsequently read it in 2 days (partly helped by being ill and having to rest!)

Young is a Christian and his books reflect the Christian message,  evangelical in nature, clearly illustrating some of the complexities of faith in a simple and easy to understand way. The Shack was a quirky and contemporary read, addressing some deep theological issues like the trinity with ease. I really liked the way it was written, I'd never read anything like it. Crossroads is written in the same vein. It takes some deep issues and addresses them in the same way as in The Shack. There are similarities - in The Shack, God is represented as a large black woman, in Crossroads the Holy Spirit as a native Indian woman. Where I loved that in The Shack, in Crossroads I found it lazy, too same-y. Young fans will probably love that, but for me it was slightly disappointing. Jesus is a likeable chap (he would be) who forms an easy relationship with the main character, Tony. I like this because I think this is what jesus would be like.

So was it a good read? - yes, couldn't put it down. The main character is initially an unlikeable man, arrogant, self-absorbed hurtful and paranoid. He ends up in a coma and in this coma state subsequently meets God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They give him the opportunity to put the things right, with an offer to heal just one person. Through this he encounters various strangers who become friends who subsequently affect his life and his decisions. The plot is clever if rather unbelievable, and in places it seems unbiblical, not sure what the bible says about the spirit of a living person inhabiting someone else. Sounds demonic if you ask me! But it's a very easy read. That said, to get the best out of it a slower or second read would be necessary to address some of the themes within it. 

The book cleverly uses a changing landscape to illustrate the state of Tony's heart and mind, in the aftermath of his arrogant and self centred life. And we watch how as he addresses the things he has done, the landscape changes until he reaches the one final, and huge hurdle. I wonder what has happened in Young's life that he addresses such difficult and painful issues in his books (I am sure I could google and find out...) but I imagine to some who have dealt with such pain this would be a deeply beneficial read.

I really like the main theme of redemption, that no matter how much of a mess you make in your life, no matter how many people you hurt, there is a chance with God, to make it right. That is the Gospel right there. So if it makes people think, gets them asking questions then it's done it's job. 

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