Tuesday 14 June 2016

Book Review: Solomon's Porch by Wid Bastian

About the Book

A prison inmate caught in the crossfire between God and Satan
Peter Carson, a white-collar inmate at a low-level U.S. Federal prison camp, is given a vision by God to be shared with the world. The most unlikely of divine messengers, Peter is prophetically destined to provide the world with hope and miracles and to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Will the prisoner become a prophet?

Backed up by divine intervention, Peter is surprisingly supported by inmates, as well as the warden and famous theologians. Astounding supernatural events begin to take place all around the world, involving even the president of the United States. But Satan is quick to strike back, doing everything in his power to stop Peter from executing God's plan. The world holds its breath as the unbelievable takes place. Will the message be heard?

My Review (3 / 5 Stars)

This is a difficult book to review. I liked the story, but it wasn't anything like any Christian fiction I've read before.

In most Christian fiction, the protagonist believes in God (or comes to believe in God) as a given. He's there, in the background, and characters make their big life decisions prayerfully, trying to discern what God wants in a given situation.

In this book, it's almost as if God Himself is the protagonist, and there isn't a single scene, or practically a single line of dialogue, that doesn't mention Him. It's cool, don't get me wrong, but it took a bit of getting used to at first.

The writing's not great, and the style is often inconsistent. In some places, when a character speaks over multiple paragraphs, the author doesn't close the quotes at the end of each paragraph. In other such cases, he does. All speech is in double quotes, but sometimes, quotes within quotes ALSO use double quotes, and other times, they use single quotes. It makes it difficult sometimes to figure out who is speaking.

There are also some incorrectly used words, or even non-existent words ("alright" is a bugbear of mine - there's no such word).

But what bothered me the most was the author's treatment of swearing. Now, it's plain to me that the author believes that using certain words, in and of themselves, constitutes sinful behaviour. I don't agree with that view by any means, but I can respect it.

The problem is, that these words that the author considers sinful are "starred out", so you see for example, "s***" written in the text. It feels to me as if I'm watching a movie with the audio channel set to "Family". I don't know if you've ever done that, but I find it incredibly distracting, and after a while I just cannot concentrate on the story anymore.

There are plenty of wonderful books out there that don't contain any swear words, and I don't miss them at all. When they're there, but censored, you'd better believe I miss them! Honestly, if you're going to include something in your writing, don't censor it. If you're not comfortable including it uncensored, then don't include it at all.

The other problem with this approach is the subjective way in which the author chooses which words to censor. "Crap" is acceptable, but "shit" is not. "Ass" is censored, but "bitch" and "whore" are apparently quite okay to use, as is the word "nigger".

Seriously, nigger? Last I checked, Amazon refuses to publish reviews containing that word. Maybe Goodreads will too. We'll see after I hit Save.

Now as a Christian, I personally have a big problem with using the Lord's name in vain. I find it far, far worse than the odd "fuck" or "shit", but here, characters spout out "Oh my God" with impunity; even the non-Christians, and nobody rebukes anybody for that.

Other than that language rant, I enjoyed the story. I thought the theology was quite sound, and the ending was brilliant. It wouldn't at all surprise me if things actually did play out exactly that way, when the time comes.

But then, I'm a Christian, and I also take the existence of God as a given. As to a non-Christian? Well, I hope that God moves them to read this book, but I doubt many will. For those that do, I hope they can get past their prejudices, and that it will help bring them to salvation in Christ Jesus.

No, scratch that. I pray that it will. I pray that in all earnest.

Edit: I tried to paste this same review into Amazon, and it wouldn't post. Probably because of the word "nigger".

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