Friday, December 4, 2009

Book Review: Put "The Silent Gift" on your gift-giving list!

For a holiday read that enriches your precious free time, rather than wastes it, treat yourself to a copy of The Silent Gift by Michael Landon Jr. and Cindy Kelley. The two have combined their talents into a gripping, emotionally charged tale of a single mother’s fight to make life more bearable for her son with special needs.

Well, “single mother” is not exactly accurate. Mary Godwin, who is technically Mrs. Mary Sinclair, flees her hot-headed, abusive husband to allow for a fresh start in a big city where she and her son Jack, who is deaf and mute, can blend with the masses and enjoy each other’s love without fear of his father. Things seem to fall into place in a miraculous way, offering the two of them hope for a better life.

However, getting by in the 1930’s isn’t easy for anyone at this point in history, let alone a single mother looking for a job in which she can bring along her child. Unable to communicate with sign language or in any other way, Jack must be brought to work or put into an institution, (the latter of which is not an option for Mary). She knows he is special; she wants to give him every opportunity to be accepted by a world that is all too quick to shun the peculiar and the disadvantaged. Yet it seems the pair continually take one step ahead only to fall two steps back.

Mary is a tenacious mother that knows how to fight and to love with passion. Having come from a broken home herself, with scars both emotionally and physically, she inevitably blames God for the hardships and is determined she can do better without his help. Every time she allows herself to trust him or another person, even just a little, she is let down in a very big way. Life is difficult for Jack and Mary on all accounts.

In the midst of the pain and struggles, Mary discovers that her silent son has an extraordinary gift. This gift brings hope to others and the prospect of a better life for Jack. But with the gift comes notoriety and the looming reality that Jack’s father may find them and take advantage of Jack, tearing their world apart. When things seem as if they can’t get any worse, they inevitably do…

From the first chapter to the last, Landon and Kelley weave a rollercoaster ride of emotions and circumstances that seize your heart and pull you into the middle of tragedy and triumph, hope and despair. Beautifully descriptive and emotionally engaging, The Silent Gift from Bethany House Publishers is sure to deliver for its readers this Christmas season and any time there’s need of a good read. Definitely a book worth giving to yourself or a friend!

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At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.