"We can strip the knight of his armor, to reveal that he looks exactly like us, or we can try on the armor ourselves to experience how it feels. Fiction provides an ideal opportunity to try on the armor"
To say I love reading would be an understatement. Ever since I picked up my first Little House on the Prairie book at the age of 7, I have been reading, reading, reading. I have gone on magnificent adventures, meeting new friends and traveling all over the world and beyond. I have been transported back in time and experienced the ages of past, all within the boundaries of my imagination, through the gift of words and stories.
When I pick up a book that I have read previously, and begin to sift through the pages, it is like receiving an old friend into my home. It is almost like sitting down for tea with the character and rekindling our friendship. If you are a non-reader, this will not make any sense to you, but if you are an avid reader, then you will will understand this friendship that I'm talking about. A well-written piece of literature has the capabilities to capture our hearts and stir our affections like no other. Jesus, the Greatest Teacher, knew the power of a good story, especially the story with a purpose.
I have had the luxury the past few months to read the stories about the Knights of Arrethtrae. (Earth+Terra [Latin for earth] combined and spelled backwards). Below is book 1 in this series. While these books are aimed at youth, I found them both fascinating and compelling. They are allegorical in nature, and have been compared to a modern Pilgrim's Progress. It is the timeless story of good and evil, of the "King who ruled the Kingdom across the sea, along with His Son and their gallant and mighty force of Silent Warriors." The Prince was later sent to Arrethtrae to "train a force of commoners--for He was a true master of the sword. [The enemy], claiming to act in the great King's name, captured and killed His very own son...The King used the power of Life to raise His Son from the dead...and the Prince will come again to take all who believe in Him home to the Kingdom across the Sea."
These stories written are about the charge the Knights of the Prince take up: "those who love Him must travel to the far reaches of the kingdom of Arrethtrae, tell all people of Him and Him imminent return, and wage war against Lucius and his Shadow Warriors.
In this particular book, Sir Kendrick is a seasoned knight with a troubled past, and he takes along a younger knight, whom he mentors, on a journey to a far away castle. This castle is ruled be evil Lord Ra, who holds secret parties and festivals for all the young people of the land. He encourages the youth to rebel against their parents, and then he sucks them into his party life, or he locks them in a dungeon where they are never heard from again, or he turns them into one of his evil warriors to do his bidding. At the very least, these youth escape his evil clutches with a sense of apathy that evil should be tolerated. You will have to read it for yourself to find out what happens to Sir Kendrick's charge, Sir Duncan, and if the prisoners of the dungeon will be set free. But beware, there are ravenous wolves abounding in the forests around the Castle of Bel Lione. Each book focuses on a particular set of virtues and stongholds. This book looks at forgiveness and rebellion.
These books are so applicable to today's culture and I find the Spirit pressing down on my to share these books any way that I can. I have spoken to more friends who work with youth and prayed about this like I've done with few other books or experiences that I've had. I've shared bits of this story with teen girls, hoping to start a small group book study in the next few months. I believe stories are that powerful, and this story, moving with the authority of Jesus Christ, can have the power to remove strongholds such as rebellion, fear, apathy and escapism that are so prevalent in our culture.
In the book, Honey for a Teen's Heart, Gladys Hunt shares that "reading together provides opportunities for the discussions every family needs. Books are about someone else; that means we can look objectively at the characters' choices and actions and discuss them." Reading books together strengthen the family bond and allows for children and parents to share their thoughts and feelings and ideas about the world around them. Adolescents need to know their parents are real people and they need to know why of who they are. Sharing a book together is a sharing of yourself. Hunt goes on to say, "When people read together, they give each other a piece of their mind and a piece of their time, and that says a good deal about human worth." She quotes another author who says, "that next to being hugged, reading aloud together is probably the longest-lasting experience of childhood."
I urge you, buy this book for your family and read it together, if you have tweeners or teenagers in your home. Perhaps you struggle with doing family devotions together, but you know that you must talk of spiritual issues together. These books provide perfect opportunity to draw your children in and allow each family member to share their thoughts and feelings. At the back of each book, there is a chapter by chapter discussion questions and answers that are quite fantastic, and you will need your Bible handy to be able to answer these thoughtfully. They are engaging and provoking.
I chose to read these ahead of time by ordering them from the local library using inter-library loan, and then started buying a few from CBD. I cannot wait until I can place each of them on my bookshelves to read again and again with my family.