Monday, October 5

The Blue Umbrella

I chose The Blue Umbrella after reading that it was likened to The Narnia Series and Harry Potter. I've not read Harry Potter, but I was intrigued about what these two series might have in common and curious which direction this piece, described as having spiritual undertones, might take.

It was a great read, I had no problem making myself pick it back up each time I sat it dow. I even let laundry sit for a day while I ate it up. But it left me a bit sad in the end. Not because of any unhappy endings, but because it just....missed it.

The book is about a boy snatched up by his wicked "Aunties" after the death of his mother. He is abused physically and mentally by these Aunties and the only bright spot he has is a curiosity in the man across the street who carries a blue umbrella. He eventually discovers that the umbrella controls the weather and Mr. Porter controls the umbrella. So the ultimate question is....since Zachary's mother died after being struck by lightning, can Zachary trust the man controlling the weather?

An excellent, thoughtful question, right? Especially when you take into account the allegorical aspect of the characters. Mr. Porter plays a Christ character. The author says that the book is not an allegory but that there are spiritual elements in the story with an "allegorical dimension". Mr. Porter's father is a God character. "O" represents a Holy Spirit character, but this gets cloudy when "O" appears in the form of the person 'you love most'....whether or not that person is living doesn't matter. There is a satan character, apostles, and Zach himself even plays a Judas of sorts. Much more than elements, these characters all seem to fit right into the Father, Son, Holy Ghost mold...except that these characters don't have to stay in the lines of biblical law. This could be fuzzy for a lot of kids, so I would not call it a casually safe read, though the intended audience is 9-12 year olds. It should be noted that "spiritual dimension" does not equate to "Christian dimension". It is not a Christian book.

Well-written, but not one that I will share with my boys. We don't read strictly Christian fiction, but I do want to know that they are gleaning something from their reading or at the very least not walking away from books with cloudy thinking. I have no doubts this book would do just that. It was a good read, but not a read that left me thinking or pondering....simply wishing it could have hit truth more accurately.

The line that saddened me the most was Zachary saying "I got us into this mess and I've got to get us out." Even though help was available for the asking, he was determined to fix his own mistakes. The element of repentance was never discussed. This sentence hit me hard and was my deciding factor in not sharing it with the boys. It erases the foundation of our faith: unearned forgiveness. Mercy and grace.

Our screwed up lives are not anything we can fix on our own. Even the most logical looking solutions can fall severely short of what is really best for us. The only One that really knows what is best is the One who really controls the weather.

You can enjoy a free excerpt of this book at Mike Mason's website.

*This book was a gift from the publisher with the understanding that I would share my thoughts on the subject through my blog.

1 comment:

Nezzy said...

It's sad that the biblical lines were so fuzzy because it sounds like it could have been a great read. It is so human of us to tell God," I can do it, I can take care of my problems." Then when the problem explodes beyond our mortal capabilities we reach out for help instead of just going to the Father in the first place.

Have a super great day, Love ya!!!

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