Wednesday, November 18, 2009

CSFF Blog Tour: Curse of the Spider King Day Three

So should we hide our warts from people or freely acknowledge them? That's a question I wound up asking myself as I was reading The Curse of the Spider King, by Wayne Thomas Batson and Christopher Hopper. But before I delve too much into these thoughts, I'd better break out Godzilla once again:

Not much of one, but it's something that stuck out in my head over the past few days.

I mentioned this in my first post, but one of the common denominators for the young heroes/heroines is that they are given mysterious books that reveals their secret heritage. These books contain the history of Allyra, their true home.

Or at least, they contain most of the history.

One astute young man (and I don't remember which one; see my first day's gripe about there being too many main characters) notices that the table of contents seems to be missing . . . well, some of its contents. The different stories are sorted by years and some periods appear to have been redacted from the book. His tutor/guide admits that it's true, that there are portions missing from the history, that they were purposefully left out. Yes, our intrepid young heroes will learn those stories some day, but not right now. They'll learn about them when they need to (the need apparently to be judged by these many guides).

Maybe I'm drawing connections where none are intended (and if I am, please feel free to correct me in the comments; it wouldn't be the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last), but this doesn't seem wise, especially since these young men and women are supposed to be the rulers of Allyra. Shouldn't they have all the information available up front to help them truly understand what's going on?

This is especially troubling to me because apparently, some of this missing history helps explain why the many different races that also inhabit Allyra are so hostile toward them, including the titular Spider King himself.

I'm not saying that the kids in this book would be able to hammer out a diplomatic solution from the get-go. It would be a mighty boring book if they did. But without that missing information available to them, they might be tempted to categorize the many hostile races as somehow irredeemably "evil" (the quotes are deliberate here) and worthy only of being fought and swept away when instead (and this is the key point for me) these races do have legitimate grievances even if they are reacting to these grievances in an improper way. The tutor admits as much when confronted with the missing history.

Now I could draw uncomfortable parallels between the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict, especially the way we in the West tend to ignore the Palestinians' perspective. But more troubling to me is a potential parallel to what we do with new converts to Christianity. Do we gloss over our faith's past indiscretions? Or do we expose them to the light and label them for what they are from the outset? Which is better? Which is the more Christian thing to do?

This may seem like a trivial point, but I worry for the heroes/heroines of this story. They've only been told one side of the story in this conflict and I fear that when they learn the other side, the Spider King's side, they're going to be disillusioned, especially since we know that his grievances are legitimate (even if his methods cross the line). The same thing could easily happen to a new Christian (or a young one) who is only presented with the sunny side of the faith that ignores the darker corners, such as the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Hundred Years War, and so on and so forth. That young Christian too could be disillusioned and potentially fall away when they learn the harsh truth that yes, Christians have screwed up pretty colossally in the past and we still have the potential to do it again.

But that's the amazing thing about grace. God's grace, poured out through Christ's death and resurrection, is big enough to swallow any sin, no matter how colossal, no matter how dark. That doesn't excuse the past atrocities committed in Christ's name. But there is redemption in spite of it all. That's why I think it's best that we admit to it, warts and all.

Have I gone overboard? Probably. Feel free to let me know. And go check out what the other tourists have to say:

Brandon Barr
Justin Boyer
Amy Browning
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Todd Michael Greene
Ryan Heart
Timothy Hicks
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Tina Kulesa
Melissa Lockcuff
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Cara Powers
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Robert Treskillard
Fred Warren
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Jill Williamson
KM Wilsher

1 comment:

Robert Treskillard said...

VERY INTERESTING, John. I hadn't even thought about mentioning that little tidbit of info, but it does give a hint to the future direction of the books, doesn't it?

To me, leaving that history out serves two purposes:

(1) It keeps that part of the history secret from us, the COTSK reader's, so Wayne and Chris can reveal it for maximum effect later.

(2) It seems real. Since these history books are not the Word of God, but rather history, it is typical for a writer of history to leave out what is distasteful. Numerous examples can be given.

Either way, I think #1 is the real reason ... your pointing this out is really wise, so thanks.