Saturday, January 12, 2013

Anno Domina by Patrick Lafferty

Anno DominaAnno Domina by Patrick S. Lafferty

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Anno Domina is set in the future when the world is visited by the daughter of God in human form. This is not the second coming of Jesus. This is a separate soul who will “be sitting on the left hand of the Father, while Jesus sits to His right.” America has been through the “Water Wars,” a sequence of battles fought to protect our country's dwindling water sources. Laws have been established to keep the peace and those laws limit freedom of speech. Estephania Rodriguez (“la Hermana de Jesus, as she was dubbed by her followers...”) has broken those laws by saying “All those who thirst, of this nation and all the nations, need but ask Me and they will drink their fill. I will provide you with the waters of this land and all the land.” She has received the death sentence for this crime.

Lafferty has taken a fascinating approach to his story. This novel is not about Estephania Rodriguez. She shows up only briefly. Most of what She says is relayed by other characters. This book is about the people who surround Her. In the process Lafferty made me think about the ones who surrounded Jesus at the time of His death. It is amazing how well his story covers that complicated subject.

There are similarities to the events leading up to the execution of Jesus throughout the book. Damien Driver, the governor who has the power to pardon Estephania Rodriguez, cuts his hand while preparing an avocado and has to wash off the blood. A reporter who is following the events is named Luke. The adherentes (the followers of la Hermana) abandon her. And the church officials (represented by Bishop DeMarco) hold the politics of the situation above all other considerations.

Anno Domina grabbed me and didn't let me go until I reached the end. But there were also moments when Lafferty touched on various interesting topics. My favorite of these was when Felipe Martinez and Father Joe compared their understanding of the way God communicates with them. Felipe said, “I think it's what other people call their instinct, their gut feeling. It's that little voice in the back of your head that tells you something is really, really right or something is really, really, wrong.” Father Joe responded by saying, “It's as if God is all around me, like an ocean and I'm floating along with His every ebb and flow. And even though I feel like I know where I'm going and what I'm doing, the tack I take sailing through life, I'm merely pushed along by His gentle breezes and tidal waters.” I loved the way those two perceptions were similar, but different and I loved the fact that Lafferty took the time to share the subtle differences.

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