I’m a book geek. I am. I like the medium. When I get a new book, whether it’s actually new or just new to me, before I even begin reading it I spend some time ingesting the product, no, no, the treasure. That’s better. I hold it in my hands, firmly gripping it. I trace my fingers over it. I flip the pages with my thumb. I turn it over analyzing the the spine and the back cover, looking at the layout and design of the whole thing, enjoying all that is book before ever actually getting to the first chapter. I study the copyright page and the title page. All the stuff that is extraneous to the real prize, the story (fiction) or information (non-fiction).
Personally, I believe this is a behavior that a lot of book lovers share. I know it’s common to theologians. Call it a symptom of being all about the Word. Or not, it’s up to you. Anyway, I also think I developed this fetish-like quirkiness when I was studying books as source material for my own book. Self-publishing means not only do you write the story but you also create your own cover art, etc.
So, when I recently received my copy of Joshua Rothe’s Stitched Crosses: Crusade, it goes without saying that I took my time absorbing the treasure that it is. And it truly is! With this book I had an added interest because it’s published by Grail Quest Books, the publisher who picked up my Lumen Legends series. I was curious to experience one of their books. Regarding the product, I was thoroughly impressed with what I purchased. I’ll be proud to have my own work flying under their banner.
Once I began reading the book, I entered a remarkable world of conflict-driven adventure. Rothe demonstrates a clear command over the history and legend in which he plants the seed of his story. As the book progresses the tale blossoms into a rich narrative bearing delightful, and masterfully contextual, fruit. The author’s fiction is stitched flawlessly into the fabric of church history with the thread of Arthurian myth. The read propelled me back in time, expanding my imagination while enriching my Christian beliefs through it’s powerful delivery of the Gospel.
I’m the kind of reader that’s always looking for the truth on the page. My pencil’s in hand at all times so I can engage the text and be able to reference it later. Even with fiction I want to be able to use the material to in my relationships with other people. Stories are for telling, that is, for communicating. I found Crusade brimming with content that I could use to help others better understand Christianity and what it is that God has revealed to us in Scripture.
Here’s what I’m talking about: idolatry is a sin that we’re all guilty of. We’re capable of turning anything and everything into a false-god. Most especially ourselves and our loved ones. Our spouse, kids, parents, siblings, and so on, if we’re not mindful, can quickly go from being blessings given to us by God to being gods themselves. Our love for them can change from healthy human adoration to an unhealthy worship. They become our everything — and I mean that in a real way, not in the sappy teen-drama way where the starlet looks into her boyfriends eyes as he declares that she’s his everything — instead of God.
Rothe, throughout the entire novel supplies me with reference material, illustrations, and quotes that will enable me to better communicate the danger above.
The way that the author highlights errors in church doctrine and practice exposes and educates, never leaving the reader alone to navigate those waters without guidance. His characters clearly contrast false teachings and the blindness of sin tainted perspectives with the truth. The intensity of this art peaks at the end of the narrative in a climax that drives home the cruciform message of the entire book.
What more can I say other than it was a fantastic read that left me ready for more.