The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

CSFF Blog Tour: Captives (Pt. 3)

By: Thomas F. Booher

Teenage angst is one of the main themes that runs throughout Captives, and I think it's the best part of the book. I was just as interested, if not more interested, in how the characters from Glenrock would react and behave in their new environs (and the temptations that come with it) as I was in how Levi, Mason, and the rest would save them.

This, in fact, is the first question Jill Williamson asks in her discussion questions at the end of the book, and I am glad she has them there. Being a 23 year old man, recently married, expecting a child in exactly a month, I can still remember what it was like to be single and looking. The desire to be loved, to give love, to make love, that's what's on the brain of the teenage boys and girls in this story, and that's how it is in real life. Also, the sticky temptations, such as Mason and Omar both having affections for their brother's fiancee -- that's real too. One thing I want to poke at, however, is the concept of romance. I am not sure how the author will ultimately portray true love and romance, but so far I don't think the kids in the story are getting it. Shaylinn and her self-image problems are soothed by basically coming to believe that she is, in fact, beautiful. I am not sure how or why she comes to that conclusion. If she is discovering that true beauty is a gentle and quiet spirit from the heart and being Christ-like, then that is heading in the right direction. It does not, however, mean she is suddenly physically beautiful. What it does mean is that she should not find self worth in the way she looks, but who she is in Christ, in her character and spirit. Losing weight, getting in shape, wearing make-up, all of that is fine (and should be pursued in my opinion) in its proper place and perspective. Hopefully Shaylinn will discover this, if she hasn't already.

I thought Omar's character, which started out very weak and unbelievable for me, became one of the best characters once he entered the Safe Lands. His downward spiral into sex, alcohol, and drug abuse was believable. P. 301-302, and especially the last sentence on p. 302, is probably the best characterizing in the whole story, and reading all that builds up to it, and Omar's decision to continue in sin, displays how people become addicted and give up hope in turning to what is good. Having said that, the way Omar does an about face at the end of the book isn't believable, unless it turns out that he really isn't genuine in his sorrow and repentance and is only helping because he is mad at Otley. That would be believable.

Discussion question 3 also shows the role and responsibility parents have in raising their children, and as Scripture makes clear, parents are responsible for raising their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. To not do so, or to neglect one or another and not show love, these things lead to rebellious, unfaithful children. I am a seminary student and have graduated Bible college, and one thing I know that is wrong in the church, including my reformed wing, is that parents do not invest in their children and teach them sound doctrine. They don't cultivate a love in their children for Jesus Christ, because they don't teach Christ's love or show Christ's love to their children. Parents are the covenant heads of their children and truly have some bearing in their own child's salvation, depending on how they raise them and bring them to Christ. Levi, Omar, and Mason show how a father's love, or lack thereof, adversely affects his offspring. He will bear guilt for bad parenting on judgment day.

Gender roles are also prevalent in this story. Mason wants to be a doctor, but the men in his tribe think that's sissy and for women. The women may be obligated to bear children and make bread all day, never having the freedom to explore the earth and carve out a career for themselves. In the Safe Lands, you can do and be what you want. But at what cost? The cost of owning your children. And really, doesn't this say something about day cares? I am not saying day cares are automatically wrong, but shame on parents who choose to send their children to day cares 9 hours a day, five days a week (or more) and only spend time with them at night (and because both parents are working so much, they don't really spend much time with their children even when they are together). There is a line in the story where Ciddah says to Mason that he must believe her people in the Safe Lands are lazy, because they do not both work and watch after their children. It was a poignant moment, and I think that it speaks directly to our culture, our work hard attitude here in America. After all, we decry abortion, but don't care to admit how many abortions are actually done on women inside the church. Further, we think that family planning, of avoiding to have children until we have lots of money, if then, is somehow completely different. Sure, at least we aren't killing our own children, but should we pat ourselves on the back because our solution to killing children was preventing them from having life in the first place? God says children are a blessing, but we Americans do not live like that. We are more concerned, like the people of the Safe Lands, in finding pleasure in life. But if children are a blessing, then doing the hard work of child rearing (as many as the Lord pleases to give you) and investing in them can literally save their souls. I cannot imagine the return on that investment, when you see your children grow up, coming into their own and loving the Lord Jesus Christ, using their gifts to glorify and honor Him. I'll take that over a big house and long, weary work hours just to keep up with the Jones's any day.

The Safe Landers don't believe in death according to discussion question 7. I thought that they did, but with reincarnation nine times until they went to Bliss, heaven. I suppose what is meant is that they do not believe in hell, in any consequences for their sins and lifestyles. If there is one critique I have of how the characters behaved, it would be that they may be more concerned about keeping up their family traditions and values in God in order to avoid hell and the consequences of sin, rather than loving righteousness because it is ultimately the most desirable thing. I think some of the characters do begin to see this though. Who wants to sleep with all the women in the Safe Lands if they are just going to leave you and sleep with someone else? Marriage, fidelity to your spouse, being a one-woman man, and loving that person and not just their bodies, that is where true delight and happiness is found (along with the kids). Being made in God's image, we are most satisfied in living for God and living according to His precepts, and His precepts, His laws and commands, are simply a reflection of His character, His very being. And since He is altogether lovely, true, and good, then to follow His commands leads to loveliness, truth, and goodness.

Of course, we have to see past the bare-boned laws of God to why they are there and how they reflect Christ in His character and being in order for us to find the goodness, truth, and beauty of the laws, but that opens up a theological discussion that is not relevant to this book review. I do hope that the next book in the series will further uncover the ugliness of sin and the beauty of righteousness, and I also hope that some characters will turn to righteousness, and others will not and suffer all the horrible consequences. That would be true to life given our depravity even as believers, and if done well, would be very powerful. Powerful enough to speak to the youth in this generation.   

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. 

Author’s website -

Check out other reviews of Captives for the CSFF blog tour: 

<a href=""> Julie Bihn</a>
<a href=""> Thomas Fletcher Booher</a>
<a href=""> Keanan Brand</a>
<a href=""> Beckie Burnham</a>
<a href=""> Morgan L. Busse</a>
<a href=""> Jeff Chapman</a>
<a href=""> Pauline Creeden</a>
<a href=""> Emma or Audrey Engel</a>
<a href=""> Victor Gentile</a>
<a href=""> Timothy Hicks</a>
<a href=""> Jason Joyner</a>
<a href=""> Carol Keen</a>
<a href=""> Shannon McDermott</a>
<a href=""> Meagan @ Blooming with Books</a>
<a href=""> Rebecca LuElla Miller</a>
<a href=""> Joan Nienhuis</a>
<a href=""> Asha Marie Pena</a>
<a href=""> Nathan Reimer</a>
<a href=""> Chawna Schroeder</a>
<a href=""> Jojo Sutis</a>
<a href=""> Jessica Thomas</a>
<a href=""> Steve Trower</a>
<a href=""> Phyllis Wheeler</a>
<a href=""> Rachel Wyant</a>

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