While I may not have written much lately, life has been very busy and I continue to dig and learn. Part of that process is reading and I have several titles to share. Of particular interest are two works of fiction, based on true stories, that are authored by Torah keepers and offer an Hebraic twist.
Very recently, we had the blessing of hosting Dr. Iglahliq Suuqiina in our home as he came through the region conducting a speaking tour. In advance of his coming I ordered and read his newest release, Two Winters, so I would be able to ask questions of him.
Dr. Suuqiina is a wise and humorous sage, and elder among the Inuit people of Alaska. He is also a very talented artist in multiple mediums from painting and jewelry to poetry and discourse. In Two Winters, Suuqiina uses autobiographical elements as well as the prophecies of an Inuit from the 1800s to weave a story of sudden disaster and survival by the few. More important than the details of the disaster are his interlaced lessons on community, interdependence and survival in isolation. Two Winters is a terrific story that reads so quickly that I finished the 250+ page book book in a scant 36 hour span and was left wanting more details.
I recommend Two Winters if only for understanding more deeply the hearts of our native brothers, but everything else presented is a bonus. You, like me, will look forward to inviting Suuqiina to come speak so that you can ask questions and sit at his feet to hear wisdom from an elder.
Two evenings ago, I attended musician Will Spires’ book launch for his first (hopefully of many) work of fiction. T.S.44: The Button Tree Prophet, written in the style of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning To Kill A Mockingbird, is immediately gripping as it spins a yarn through the adventures of a ten year old boy in Columbia, SC during WWII. Forced to be the man of the house during the days of rationing, young Travis sets out on a journey that is sure to touch you as it does the many characters he interacts with. A story of faith, hope and relationship as well a Divine direction, this is a story you will want to read aloud to your children and grandchildren.
The final volume that I am currently reading is significantly heavier and more challenging in its content and scope than the previous offers. Thelyphthora, published in 1781 by Reverend Martin Madan, arguably the most famous clergyman of his time, rocked the world. Independently wealthy, Madan was beholden to no one and unfettered in his willingness to pursue deep truths from scripture. And for that, Christian history has tried to erase his name and memory. Details in a minute.
Madan had used much of his wealth to minister to the least of London, England, the diseased and rejected prostitutes. As part of this work, as a 24 year old, he built the famous Lock Hospital to treat women and he served as its chaplain until his death at 65. Over the decades, his ministry and influence grew to the point that he built an 800 seat chapel that was filled weekly to hear him preach. An enduring gift that he bestowed on nearly every congregation in the world is the normalizing and polpularizing of hymns and hymn singing. He wrote both words and music for the Lock Chapel, songs and tunes lifted in whole or part by nearly every denomination and congregation in England before exporting the hymns to the world.
It was Charles Wesley who led the bright young Madan, an attorney, to the Messiah, yet, according to biographer Thomas Jackson, author of The Life of the Reverend Charles Wesley, “Charles Wesley’s hymns would never have influenced the Church, as they certainly have done, but for the intervention of Martin Madan.” Besides his ministry in London, Madan traveled as an evangelist and orator proclaiming truth with great effect. His further list of accomplishments would fill pages, but it was the fact that he was beholden to none and willing to pursue truth in Scripture, regardless the cost, that you have likely never heard of him or this amazing work.
Hebrew roots believers will appreciate and understand well what Madan says in The Preface to the Second Edition,
A work which militates against the received notions, long customs, and inveterate prejudices of mankind, can expect but little quarter from the world in general, and, of course, but little of that sort of candor, which is shewn to performances of authors who write on the popular side of the question. -This was fully experienced at the Reformation- when Luther, and others, published against the ridiculous fopperies and gross villianies of Popery, they had volumes written against them, in which they were represented in every odious light imaginable. -They were “heretics-antichrists-factors for the devil” – and, in short, all that was bad; -but the abuse of their adversaries had one good effect – it proved how much at a loss these were for fair argument, grounded on scripture-evidence, and how little able they were to meet their opponents with the weapons of a spiritual warfare. (See Cor. x. 4.) Seldom does abuse serve any better purpose in controversy, than to create a very strong presumption, that those who give it have no better on their side, and therefore are in the wrong, and that those who receive it are, therefore, in the right.
Of course, having heard his heart and knowing that there were none who could refute what he had to say, are we willing to dig into his work subtitled A Treatise on Female Ruin in its Causes, Effects, Consequences, Prevention, & Remedy; Considered on the Basis of Divine Law? Madan dared to speak truth to the religious powers and was promptly blackballed and erased from the pages of history. Because of his great love and concern for the women of England who were cast aside by the laws and culture, he had the audacity to search the Scriptures for answers regarding adultery, fornication, divorce and the Biblical definition of marriage.
While I have not finished Thelyphthora, I am thoroughly enjoying good scholarship and hearing truth from a man who stood for truth over reputation, a man who cared more for others than himself and a man who was willing to sacrifice himself for the good of others. I would that there were more such men, but experience has taught me that they are rarer than hen’s teeth.
If you want to drink deeply of truth and understand parts of Scripture that lesser men (and women) dare not address for fear of reprisal, I recommend Reverend Martin Madan’s Thelyphthora.