Thursday, January 31, 2013

An excellent story of fatherhood, resurrection and return

Leepike Ridge by N. D. Wilson

This is N. D. Wilson's first novel, but I had already read all his other books. There have been three in the 100 Cupboards series, and two (so far) in the Ashtown Burials series. In fact, Kara and I both read all those books last year.

Leepike Ridge is different. While the other books are all fantasy novels, this is fairly straight adventure. One notices the similarities, of course. The protagonist, Tom, is an eleven-year old boy (Wilson uses twelve-year-old boys in his other novels), and the theme of fatherhood is prominent throughout. (I'm sure we don't need to psychologize here; Wilson appears to have an excellent relationship with his father, Douglas Wilson).

Like all N.D. Wilson's books, Leepike Ridge is a thoroughly Christian novel. Tom travels deep underground, and then surfaces again. Wilson makes the connection with Jesus' burial and resurrection obvious (perhaps a bit too obvious) - the relevant chapter is entitled "Easter". Of course, it's not just a parallel with the story of Jesus (and Tom is not portrayed as a "Christ figure") - rather, this is the story of the Christian life, "We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). In any case, the metaphor works well in this book. And although I haven't read it closely, and can't be sure of the chronology, I wouldn't be surprised if Tom rises again on the third day.

Another theme of the book is that of return. It felt like the book was an exposition of that wonderful T. S. Eliot quote: "We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

Finally, Leepike Ridge makes some interesting connections with fringe theories concerning the discovery of America. Tom discovers artefacts that might be Chinese or Phoenician. The Chinese theory is the one made famous by Gavin Menzies' 1421: The Year China Discovered America (which I still haven't got around to reading) and Admiral Cheng is mentioned by name in the book. The Phoenician theory is less well known, but the book inspired me to research it and start a Wikipedia article on the Theory of Phoenician discovery of the Americas. I should point out, however, that Wilson says in an Author's Note that Leepike Ridge "does not draw inspiration from any historical evidence that proto-Chinese explorers reached the New World. Rather, it draws inspiration from a much broader pattern..."

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Books Kara Read in 2012

These are the books I read in 2012, with occasional comments.
  1.  Finding God Beyond Harvard by Kelly Monroe Kullberg
  2. Hollywood Worldviews by Brian Godawa
  3. Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl by N.D Wilson
  4. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis Creative and hilarious.
  5. To Train Up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl  Deeply flawed theology, but not as bad as some say.
  6. Eat this Book by Eugene Peterson Found this frustratingly inconsistent.
  7. Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis
  8. 100 Cupboards by N. D. Wilson Mysterious cupboards in a Kansas farmhouse. Great story!
  9. Family Practice, ed. R.C. Sproul, Jr.
  10. Through New Eyes by James Jordan An important book that I will be reading again. So much to think about on each page.
  11. Masterchef Australia, Series 3: The Cookbook
  12.  Letter from New York by Helene Hanff
  13. Joy in the Morning by P.G. Wodehouse
  14. Dandelion Fire by N. D. Wilson My favourite of the 100 Cupboards books.
  15. What I Saw in America by G.K. Chesterton Still relevant for America today, I think.
  16. The Chestnut King by N.D. Wilson
  17. Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford Fascinating reading.
  18. The Crisis of '77 by Bob Thomas Important in helping me understand the history of my denomination here in Australia.
  19. At Large and at Small, Confessions of a Literary Hedonist by Anne Fadiman I really enjoyed this book of essays.
  20. The Secret of the Unicorn by Hergé
  21. Martin the Warrior by Brian Jacques
  22. Reading the OED by Ammon Shea This is the only book I reviewed on the blog this year, thereby artificially heightening its importance.
  23. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
  24. Brown Sunshine of Sawdust Valley by Marguerite Henry Disappointing book by one of my childhood favourite authors.
  25. Lit! by Tony Renke
  26. Great Books of the Christian Tradition by Terry W. Glaspey
  27. The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver
  28. Happy Days with Jamie
  29. Jamie's America
  30. Jamie at Home
  31. Jamie's Italy
  32. The Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer
  33. Red Rackham's Treasure by Hergé
  34. Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
  35. The Christ of the Covenants by O. Palmer Robertson I read this introduction to covenantal theology with a friend.
  36. Piano Lessons by Anna Goldsworthy I read this after hearing an excerpt on the radio.
  37. The Canons of Dordt I was struck by how the authors of this document so obviously loved the doctrines.
  38. The Bride's Treasure by Faber, Meijerkink, Trimp and Zomer A very helpful history and explanation of the Canons of Dordt.
  39. Saraban by Greg and Lucy Malouf
  40. The Warden by Anthony Trollope Upon Suzannah's recommendation.
  41. Early Christian Writings: The Apostolic Fathers, trans. Staniforth, ed. Louth
  42. Mother Kirk by Douglas Wilson
  43. The Minnow on the Say by Philippa Pearce A mystery with boys and boats. Fun.
  44.  The Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff
  45.  1 is One by Tasha Tudor
  46.  Anytime Prayers by Madeleine L'Engle
  47.  I Was Just Wondering by Philip Yancey
  48.  Warm Bread and Honey Cake by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra
  49.  The Dragon's Tooth by N.D. Wilson An excellent start to a series and very interesting thematically.
  50.  The Drowned Vault by N.D. Wilson
  51.  Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman
  52.  Airs Above the Ground by Mary Stewart Suzannah motivated me to read Stewart. Austria, the circus, a mystery and Lippizaner horses. What's not to love?
  53.  Luther and His Katie by Dolina MacCuish Frustratingly unreferenced.
  54.  The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart
  55. Medieval Celebrations by Daniel Diehl and Mark Donnelly
  56. The Repurposed Library by Lisa Occhipinti Some bibliophiles might find the ideas in this book scandalous.
  57.  Felt by India Flint and Toyoko Sugiwaka My new interest, thanks to my sister-in-law.
  58.  The Gabriel Hounds by Mary Stewart
  59.  The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism, ed. Gregg Strawbridge Some very helpful essays addressing one of my passions, the status of children in the church.
  60.  Scout: The Secret of the Swamp by Piet Prins
  61.  The Operations of Divine Grace, trans. from the German