Friday, August 21, 2009

Go North! You(ng) Reader



The opening two words ("Toooothy cow!") of Book Two of the Wingfeather Saga immediately transported me back to Aerwiar, the fabulous land created by author (and amazing singer/songwriter/Christian/proprietor) Andrew Peterson. It had been a well over a year since my first visit in Book One, and I was more than ready to return. Ready to face those fearsome toothy cows roaming Glipwood Forest, ready to hear from the sea dragons again, ready to follow the young unlikely hero and his tight-knit family on their dangerous journey.

The official summary of North! Or Be Eaten:

Readers thrilled to the phantasmagorical adventures in On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, Book One of the Wingfeather Saga. Now in Book Two, Janner, Tink, and Leeli Igiby, mom Nia, ex-pirate grandfather Podo, Peet the Sock Man, and trusty dog Nugget flee north to rebel headquarters.

Their escape brings readers to the very brink of Fingap Falls , over the Stony Mountains , and across the Ice Prairies, while villains galore try to stop the Igibys permanently. Fearsome toothy cows and horned hounds return, along with new dangers: a mad man running a fork factory, a den of rockroaches, and majestic talking sea dragons.

Andrew Peterson’s lovable characters create what FantasyBookCritic.com says made Book One “one of the best fantasy novels in a very long time,” and Book Two contains even more thrills, exploring “themes universal in nature, ranging from the classic good versus evil, to the importance of family, and burdens of responsibility.”

(Me again...) All but gone are the hilarious but distracting footnotes employed in Book One. In North! Or Be Eaten, Peterson seems to settle in to the story and tell it in earnest. Janner Igiby, the protagonist, finds himself alone for much of the story, and the character development during that stretch is superb. Action scenes were painfully slow at certain points; still, the story drew me in and kept me up long after my normal bedtime. I am counting the days till Book Three is released.

Bottom line: read it!

Thanks to Staci and company at Waterbrook Press for a pre-release copy of the book to read and one to give away. That's right, I said give away. Leave a comment, any comment, and you may just be the happy recipient. Of course, you can purchase it for yourself here. But beware the toothy cows!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Peace Activist

The following is a short article I wrote for a local magazine, fleshed out a bit since I'm not under word-length constraints on my own blog (although that's not a bad idea now is it?).

Peace. What comes to mind when you read that word? Hippies and Woodstock? The Middle East? A quiet mountain scene?

Defining it is like nailing Jello to the ceiling. Peace is more than the absence of war, and it is not simply a synonym for silence. It can be a feeling but it is also a state. Influenced by circumstances but not dependent upon them, "peace of mind" is possible in the hardest of situations.

However you describe it, this much is certain: everyone wants peace. We crave it in our world, our nation, our relationships, and our own hearts.

But how? How can we find peace?

Good thing God has so much to say about it. The word "peace" is mentioned 420 times in the King James Version. Of special importance are the passages about peace between God and man.

Now, the Bible speaks the painful truth that man (both collectively and individually) in his natural state is an enemy of God (Romans 5:10). By breaking His laws, we have set ourselves against Him.

God doesn't grade on a curve: "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:10). Nor does He allow exceptions: "For there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:22-23). And His punishment is sure: "He reserveth wrath for His enemies" (Nahum 1:2).

How do you make peace with someone you have irreversibly wronged, someone who has declared you The Enemy? An apology is a good start, followed by a change in behavior. But your efforts accomplish nothing if the wronged party does not extend grace, forgiveness, reconciliation. And peace.

That's just what God did. "When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son" (Romans 5:10) "And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself... And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled. In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight" (Colossians 1:20-23).

The cost of peace is high—just ask our military veterans. In offering you eternal peace, God did not spare His own Son. Forget Woodstock; He is the ultimate peace activist.

Do you know God's peace?