Monday, May 9, 2016

Eve - Wm. Paul Young

Title: Eve
Author: Wm. Paul Young
Publication Date: 9/15/15
Pages: 320
Genre: Faith / Literary Fiction / Fiction
How I Found It: I've read Young's previous work.
Date Completed: 3/31/16

Summary: Through the lens of a broken, young woman, Young explores the story of Creation and the subsequent wrestling between Love and evil.

What I Thought: Young's writing is definitely not for everyone. His breakout hit, The Shack, flustered a lot of evangelicals because of his allegorical portrayal of God as an elderly black woman. Sigh. People, if you didn't like The Shack, don't bother with Eve

Young writes allegorically. He clearly is starting from a place of faith and belief, but he opens himself and readers up to imagination, filling in the space between the lines. I do not find his work heretical. Rather, I see it as an expression of and response to some of the questions we all carry. There are many blank spaces left by Scripture. God never chose to give us all the answers. He retains so much mystery about His person, His ways, and His plans (using those male pronouns so repetitively in a post about Young's work feels a bit ironic). So, Young allows imagination to do its work within the information we do already have. If you cannot appreciate an exploration of the possible, even in a fictional, literary structure, then avoid this. Young embraces the poetic, not the literal. 

My perspective: so long as you know where you stand, what you believe, and are able to critically evaluate what you take in, then read away. There is always something to learn, something to consider, ways to grow...even if they may come from unexpected or controversial sources.

And it's not like Young is throwing out the baby with the bath water here. His framework is very close to a literal interpretation of the Creation story. His protagonist, a young girl named Lilly, is chosen as a Witness to Creation. Guided at times by Eve herself and at times by an angel, she sees the whole deal: everything from the first appearance of the planet through the devestating entrance of sin into the world. Young infuses the story with detail and color, really bringing it to life. Surpassed only by the creation scene in C. S. Lewis' The Magician's Nephew, this literary account will cause you to appreciate the wonder of it all in a new way.

Young's big divergence from traditional accounts of the story is how the Fall itself plays out. Young calls it "the turning," as in turning your face away from God's Love and, thinking yourself alone, searching to fill that space with any number of things. I found this description really poignant and it does a wonderful job capturing how, for most of us, sin isn't one momumental moment of rebellion; rather, it is often a slow turn, a step down a slippery slope. Where Young gets controversial is how he shows this in Adam. Adam begins the turning early on. He is confronted by the snake before Eve even shows up on the scene. His turning is slow and painful to witness. The moment of eating the fruit of the tree is the climax of his descent, the point of no return. Eve, who has long been blamed for the whole ordeal, does eat the forbidden fruit with Adam, but her turning does not follow the same path as his. For the most part, we don't even witness hers. Having the two of them leave the Garden at different times, theoretically years apart, felt a bridge too far for me. Though I don't claim to know who really was the leader in the forbidden fruit deal (if there even was one), I do think they both fell from grace at the same time. See? Critical thinking at work! 

Overall, I thought the book was an interesting, unique work. It's pretty confusing at times. Lilly's story away from witnessing Creation gets complicated, unnecessarily so, in my opinion. I do not think Young's writing here is as strong as it was in The Shack. Still, he offers an interesting perspective and I enjoyed taking the imaginative journey with him. 

Quotes I Loved:
  • "Scholars...are an erudite lot who study this or that and can talk about it in prodigious detail. Very smart and unendingly educated, Scholars! They can explain almost anything, even if it isn't true."
  • "She turned and gazed instead at the horizon, where a fiery sun was slowly sinking. Like a flower girl at a wedding march, the night threw shadows as announcements of a Beloved's approach."
  • "How will you ever learn unless you first don't know?"
  • "[Love] is both mysterious and simple. Gerald's good is more important to me than mine, and mine is more important to him than his. We each own this conviction individually, not expecting it to be reciprocated. Healthy love looks different from one second to the next because it's built on respect for self and for the other."
  • "Somebody called it soul rape. ...You're left with nobody and nothing 'cause that's all that you deserve. It's your fault if you're cute or pretty enough to be chosen. If someone else is picked, it's your fault because you aren't enough."
  • "Everyone goes through fire...but the flame of His affection is for not against you. It purifies anything that is not Love."
  • "Trust is not a once-in-a-lifetime decision, but a choice made within each moment as the river runs."
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Possibly

A Reduced Review: Though it's certainly not for everyone, I found this fictional perspective on Creation to be poignant and powerful. 

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