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James D. Umbach
- Publié sur Amazon.com
I've posted before that I am not a huge reader of novels. Sure, I read a lot, but I've never really gotten into fiction much. I may have to reconsider this policy, though, having just finished Francine River's very engrossing book And the Shofar Blew. I picked this book out for myself; I had never heard of it until I saw it, decided it looked cool, and bought it.
I started the book Thursday, and finished it last night after a marathon 100-page session. Mrs. Rivers, best known for romance novels, has broken new ground in this fast-paced story of Paul Hudson, son of a well-known television minister who comes to California to take over a dying church in a small town. The congregation of Centerville Christian Center had been declining for years, with no youth and a tiny, elderly group in the pews each week.
Paul, who brings his wife and young son with him, decides that he wants to bring new people into the church. He asks around and finds out what is needed: people don't want to feel guilty, they don't want stale old hymns, and they don't want hard-hitting messages. So, Paul waters down scriptures, brings in new songs, and enlivens the youth group. His fast changes alienate many elders, most of whom resign. Yet Centerville Christian Center thrives, and soon a new building is needed. Paul enlists the help of Steven Decker, a divorced father and recovering alcoholic, to design the new church building. Samuel Mason, former pastor of the church, and his wife Abby can only watch helplessly as they see the old, Godly church fall away, and a false "Christian in name only" church take its place.
Of course, there are various subplots: Paul and his father never have gotten along, nor have Paul and his son. Paul has ticked off many old members of the church. He also has falling-outs with a few other important people (I don't want to give anything away) and, eventually, does something that can potentially shatter his ministry--and his family. The story of a man's redemption--with himself, with his family, with his friends, and with God--is fascinating. The lessons that Paul, Stephen, and others learn can also teach us something. Pay attention to their mistakes, and see if you can find yourself in the book somewhere. I know I sure did!
I also like the fact that the novel takes place in Northern California, with the cities of Sacramento, R**eville, and Granite Bay playing a prominent role. Two other local communities are also in the book, with their names disguised: I am fairly sure that "Centerville" is Galt, and "Rockville" is Lincoln, based on descriptions of the towns, highways, and roads in these ficticious communities. I have no idea why Rivers would use some real names and change the names of other towns, but it doesn't matter. I feel as though I'm right there in the car with the characters as the author describes such local places as "The Grapevine," "Highway 99," "Sacramento Airport," and "Arco Arena." I'd have enjoyed the book even if the setting were elsewhere, but it's always nice to romp around in the same places as the people in the story.
And the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers. Highly recommended. Go out and buy it now!!!