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Fighting the demons

"Fighting the demons" Continued...

Issue: "Top 40 Books," July 3, 1999

And yet, some serious flashes of wit indicate Mr. Peretti is mastering his craft. He describes a Texas town, with its beef and oil industries, as smelling like "a herd of cattle tarring a roof."

He also does a good job handling miracles, with which Christian authors sometimes play fast and loose. (I once counted four separate resurrections in a Christian romance novel.) But Christians should be the last to employ deus ex machina (the old literary trick of getting out of a plot tangle by having some deity coming down from a machine to save the day). We know the Deus and know that His chosen machina, in most cases, is the ordinary person, and ordinary means. The conversion of Norma McCorvey, Roe in Roe vs. Wade, is much more dramatic in that it was a loving child who led her to Christ, not a literal burning bush or a supernatural vision of the resurrected Jesus.

While he avoids the excesses of other Christian authors, Mr. Peretti doesn't deny miracles, either. He walks the wise middle ground: Trust-but verify. The miracles of the false christ seem wonderful, but Mr. Peretti eventually--and patiently--shows that a healed body is nothing if the soul is perverted. The Visitation is a fine summer read, finer for showing that Mr. Peretti is serious about perfecting his craft and perfecting his readers' theology.

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