Wednesday, January 23, 2008

CSFF Blog Tour: Auralia's Colors Day Three

CSSF Blog Tour

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about making this post. If you looked in the comments, you'll see that my identification of the Keeper as some sort of Christ or God figure might be a little off. That made me a little gun shy for today.

See, when I read Auralia's Colors, there was something that was said in a climactic scene that irked me. Just a little. But as time passed and the blog tour drew nearer, it bothered me more and more. And so I planned this post to address what it was and why those statements tainted what, up until that point, had been a very enjoyable read.

But because of my "oops" yesterday, I decided I had better go back and reread the scene to make sure I wasn't going to make another mistake. So last night, I did just that. And discovered that, much to my chagrin, it wasn't as bad as I remembered.

And yet I'm going to make the post anyway because, even though the problem is not as blatant as I remembered, there were hints of a serious eschatological mistake.

To explain, let me present you with a hypothetical situation.

Let's say that a tornado rips through your town. This isn't some mini-twister. This is one of those F5 monsters, the kind that happen once in a great while. Everything is completely destroyed and everyone in your neighborhood is out on the streets.

Fortunately for you, a wealthy philanthropist hears about your plight. More than that, he's filled with compassion and wishes to do something. And so, purely out of the kindness of his heart, he decides to rebuild your hometown. Every last house. Every last building. He'll foot the bill and make everything right again.

But more than that! He's not just going to rebuild the houses. He's going to make them better. Every house will have an indoor heated pool. Every house will have plush master bedroom suites. Every house will have spacious kitchens with granite countertops. You get the idea. Again, he will pay for the upgrade and, even better, there will be no mortgage payments or utility bills or anything like that.

Now obviously, this will take some time so, in the interim, he'll put you and your neighbors up in a hotel. A nice one. You know, four stars, good room service, free cable, that sort of thing.

Great news, yes? I'm sure that in light of all this, you would be quite excited. So you call your friends and tell them, "Guess what? I get to stay in a HOTEL!" And that's all you talk about. The four stars. The room service. The cable. Not a word about the new house.

Does that seem reasonable? And yet far too many Christians celebrate the hotel, not the house.

What am I talking about? And how does this relate to Auralia's Colors? It all has to do with what we believe happens to us after we die.

The problem is, far too many Christians suffer from what I call "interim state confusion." They believe that heaven -- specifically the disembodied soul part -- is the final destination. But if you read the New Testament carefully, you realize that disembodied souls in heaven is not the hope we have as Christians for after death. The resurrection of our bodies is the true hope.

Think about it. How did Jesus comfort Martha when Lazarus died? He didn't point her to heaven. He pointed her to the resurrection. What did Paul spend 58 verses expounding on in 1 Corinthians 15? It wasn't heaven. It was the resurrection. How did Paul comfort the Thessalonian Christians when some of their siblings in the faith had died? It wasn't by pointing them to some ethereal, eternal heaven. It was by assuring them that the dead would be raised in glory at the Last Day.

Heaven, properly understood, is the waiting room, not the end of the story as so many assume. It's the interim state but so many people confuse it for the big deal.

So what does this have to do with Auralia's Colors? There's a moment where, in a climactic scene, Overstreet dips his toe into interim state confusion.

I don't really want to say where; it will kind of ruin a major plot point and, in spite of my red warning yesterday, I don't want to generate this massive of a spoiler. But at one point, Overstreet makes it sound as if our bodies are simply something to be discarded after death and that this physical world is somehow unimportant.

That's simply not true. Worse, it's not really a Christian attitude. Think of it this way: God did not create human beings as bodiless souls that somehow got tricked and trapped into a physical body when we fell into sin. He created us soul and body together. Death does violence to that natural order and separates the two. That's why the resurrection is all important. It will reunite what was never meant to be divided.

To put it bluntly, the belief that the physical body doesn't matter is, in my opinion, borderline gnosticism. The gnostics believed that physical matter was inherently evil and that the soul had to be freed from it. While this attitude of the body being an unimportant husk doesn't reach that level, it does trivialize something that God has created and God doesn't create junk.

My ranting and raving about this does not mean that I didn't enjoy Auralia's Colors. I did. And like I said, Overstreet may not have intended to cross the line and may not have at all. I'm all for Christian speculative fiction authors dancing on the end of tree branches (as is evidenced by my rampant speculation about alien life from a few months ago). We just have to be careful that the branch we're dancing on is still on the tree.

But enough from me. Sorry. Like I said, interim state confusion is a pet peeve of mine and I tend to sound off on it when I can. Go and peruse the other participants. I'm willing to guess none of them will smack you upside the head with a theology lecture.

Brandon Barr
Jim Black
Justin Boyer
Grace Bridges
Jackie Castle
Carol Bruce Collett
Valerie Comer
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Chris Deanne
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Marcus Goodyear
Andrea Graham
Jill Hart
Katie Hart
Timothy Hicks
Heather R. Hunt
Becca Johnson
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Mike Lynch
Rachel Marks
Shannon McNear
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirtika or Mir's Here
Pamela Morrisson
Eve Nielsen
John Ottinger
Deena Peterson
Steve Rice
Cheryl Russel
Ashley Rutherford
Hanna Sandvig
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachelle Sperling
Donna Swanson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Laura Williams
Timothy Wise

1 comment:

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

The thing about a work like this that uses subtlety, as you accurately said the other day, is that it's hard to know if what we see is the intention of the author of is simply something we see because of our own worldview.

Honestly, I didn't see any end times symbolism or even any after-death types. But of course, now I'll be alert to it in the next books.

Thanks again for your great sequence of posts, John.