Friday, April 9, 2010

Terrestria Chronicles: Making Biblical Truth Tangible!

There was a reason that Jesus taught in parables. He knew that stories can convey deep truths in ways that a long explanation cannot. (Well, after all, He knows everything!). It surely makes sense to follow His example when we want to teach biblical concepts to kids: word pictures deliver!
If you have ever read Pilgrim’s Progress or Hinds Feet on High Places, you know that an allegory can take story telling to the next level. That is what Ed Dunlop, author of the Terrestria Chronicles, has set out to do in his stories. I received a copy of “The Crown of Kuros,” and “The Dragon’s Egg,” in exchange for my review of these books. They are book #4 and #5 within the 7 books that make up the series.
Set in the realm of King Emmanuel, Lord of all of Terrestria, within the walls of The Castle of Faith, the princes and princesses that serve the King find their commitment to Him tested in various ways. Both stories follow young Prince Josiah who has, in prior volumes, been freed from slavery to the wicked Argamor, (the King’s nemesis, who desires to cause unfaithfulness to King Emmanuel throughout the realm). Josiah is now in grateful service to the true King.
He and his fellow young noblemen, Prince Selwyn and Princess Gilda, are in the King’s employ and have various quests and errands that are entrusted to them as they serve in The Castle of Faith. The cast of characters in each story have names that, in most part, describe just that: their character! Names like Sir Faithful, Sir Dedication, Sir Pretentious and Captain Assurance will help the reader see how these traits play out in the lives through each individual's interaction. Or, how about Captain Covetousness and Captain Discontent as part of the crew of the bad guys? The way these chronicles state the obvious will help the reader recognize these attributes in their own lives. 
In The Crown of Kuros, Josiah’s faithful heart is tested. He joyfully serves King Emmanuel but occasionally has his own agenda and is tempted by a desire to be recognized for his own glory. In fact, he learns that a rash act of impatience on his part, has perhaps cost the security of the realm. 
Whoever holds the Crown of Kuros, controls the land of Terrestria. When it comes up missing from its secure place in the Castle of Faith, Josiah is determined to help bring the crown back. The quest leads him and Prince Selwyn into the underworld of Argamor where they overhear Argamor’s commanders plotting how they will overthrow the land of Terrestria. The evil doers know they cannot win by sheer force, as their numbers are much fewer than that of King Emmanuel. But there is a much more powerful method that they have devised to conquer the land: one heart at a time.
Through the use of “Spellavision” and seducing music, as well as a variety of subtleties such as making women discontent with their role as wife and mother, Aragamor’s minions have devised a subtle but formidable attack that will destroy Emmanuel’s kingdom from within itself. Through the power of allegory, your children will recognize how each of these temptations in Terrestria are very real struggles that are present in their lives today. Seeing how the people of the land are seduced-- or how they overcome-- will surely bring to light the struggle against evil that each of us face.

In the meantime, Josiah must come to grips with conflicts and struggles within. He is also haunted by the notion that the crown's disappearance just might have something to do with his own shortcomings. He is more determined than ever to recover the crown of Kuros to its rightful place in The Castle of Faith.
Once again, in The Dragon’s Egg, we find Josiah, zealous as always to serve, yet continuing to make selfish choices. This time The Castle of Faith and the land of Terrestria will be in grave danger thanks to Josiah’s secret sin. The thing that once seemed so innocent and so easily justified has taken on a life of its own! Your kids will recognize Satan’s ability, as old as the Fall of Man, to twist the words of Emmanuel and make us doubt the instructions He gives. Your children will see that those secret “little sins” are just as big as the obvious ones...and can be much more destructive. 
Through the power of story, so many biblical truths come to light. In a very tangible way your kids will relate to the struggles, the temptations, and the promises of scripture that are reflected throughout the character’s adventures. I would give both books two thumbs up for their ability to make plain the truths of scripture, although the technical side of writing falls short. I think a good set of editorial eyes would be beneficial to Mr. Dunlop's terrific tales; yet it is doubtful that kids will be overly deft in this area.
To check out all of the Terrestria Chronicles, as well as other books written by Ed Dunlop, click here. Each paperback book sells for $7.99, or $39.99 for the set, (hardcover sets available at a higher price). You may also purchase a study guide which goes along with the entire set; this would be a great addition to family devotions.

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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.