Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Second Virgin Birth by Tommy Taylor

The Second Virgin BirthThe Second Virgin Birth by Tommy Taylor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Second Virgin Birth is an interesting book, yet it is different from most of the novels I have read. My impression is that Tommy Taylor did not write this book because he loves writing fiction, but rather because he loves God. I had some issues with his style. There are too many cliches, a lack of attention to detail, and character reactions that are not believable. But the big ideas expressed in the book kept me turning the pages.

When I first read the concept of The Second Virgin Birth I was hooked. We live in a time when events that once would have been considered miracles are now achievable through technology. Advances in reproductive medicine have made it possible for a woman who is technically a virgin to give birth. Cloning processes have reached a point where it is possible to create a person who is more or less an identical twin of another person—if the DNA is available. So the cloning of Jesus Christ sounds plausible.

Before I started reading it, I thought the book was going to be about the realization of God's plan through the work of brilliant people. But instead of taking that path, Taylor has given us a story filled with traditional miracles. These include, among others, the ability of the new Mary to speak with God, the sudden deaths of two hospital orderlies who are about to harm Mary, and a truck driving angel who appears to help her. The way divine intervention was included in a story about science was interesting.

The focus of The Second Virgin Birth is on Mary rather than Jesus. Unlike the first mother of God, this Mary is far from a humble young lady who is told by the angel Gabriel that she has been chosen by God to give birth to His child. Instead this Mary communes with God. She has read all the holy books of the world by age eight and understands them. She enters a trance, not speaking for four years. When she finally talks she tells the people around her what God has told her and she is immediately believed.

The villains of the novel are motivated by greed. The Pope is the worst offender among the people who seek riches and power. This fictional Pope, John Paul III, does everything in his power to prevent the birth of the cloned Son of God, including sending out assassins to kill Mary. He is worried that the birth of her child will cause believers to leave the Roman Catholic church to follow the new messiah. This part of the novel parallels Herod's role in the Christmas story.

I believe this book will appeal to open minded Christians who enjoy reading different interpretations of their faith.

Steve Lindahl - author of Motherless Soul

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

In A World Of Small Truths by Ray Morrison

In A World Of Small Truths is a collection of short stories by Ray Morrison, an award winning writer from North Carolina. Morrison's use of language is concise, sharp, and beautiful. His attention to detail is phenomenal.

The stories are touching portraits of people caught up in problems readers can identify with, such as dealing with guilt or trying to understand the actions of others who have disappointed them. Sometimes the problems are set in common situations and at other times, in stories such as S, the characters are in situations we hope we will never see. Yet Morrison always takes us along paths that are justified by the strengths and failures of his characters.

One of my favorites in the collection is Calvin Bodenheimer and the Dalrymple Bull which at first appears to be a tragedy in the classical sense. Calvin, the hero, has a character flaw, shyness, that keeps him from developing a relationship with a pretty farmer's daughter named Dreama. But the story takes a number of unexpected twists and turns and ends up being more about Calvin's relationship with himself than about Dreama. Another story, June Bug is a powerful piece about a woman reflecting back on the way her mother's prejudices affected her life. And another, Lenny and Earl Go Shooting Off Their Mouths is filled with dark humor and has one of the best titles I've ever read.

Although In A World Of Small Truths contains stories set mostly in and around Winston-Salem, NC, the characters could exist anywhere. The Small Truths are emotional struggles we can all identify with and learn from. This one is a great read!

Steve Lindahl = author of Motherless Soul