The Wolves of Midwinter

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Of Love and Evil Review:

Anne Rice books never cease to entrap me in this dreamlike state that occurs while I'm reading the books or afterwords. Normally, the need to continue reading her books dawns on you like a spontaneous desire for rich coffee or scrumptious chocolate. Every page of her books weaves an intricate web of rich design that contains many substantive spiritual truths contained within. 
Her newest entry to the "Songs of the Seraphim," series does not deviate from the established, proven formula of her other novels. This is not a form of criticism. In actuality, her formula of enticing prose, first-person perspectives of a reclusive individual, and rich historical settings elevates her books to a very high level of quality. This year alone, I have read an estimated ten or twelve Anne Rice books, alongside a slew of college-required reads. Her books leave an imprint of great intrigue that cannot be divested. Instead, the reader only craves for the next installment in one of her many series or does research on some of the intriguing historical, spiritual, or philosophical questions raised in her books.

Anne Rice's inquisitive self has always been the strength of her novels. Every novel of hers is mostly centered around some difficult spiritual question that she herself has been wrestling with. "Of Love and Evil," raises an interesting dilemna that is pivotal to our faith. Now, that we have equipped ourselves with this new Christian perspective, What determines something as a good or evil act? More importantly, could a loving act that we believe reflects the spirit of Christ be a definably evil act?

Readers are transported to Renaissance Italy to become involved with a mystery that involves a Jewish physician wrongly being convicted for supposedly poisoning their trusted, Catholic patient. Anne Rice uses this perplexing mystery to immerse the reader into this picturesque world with ease. Using Toby O'Dare as the curious soul with a spiritual dilemna, the reader's full psyche becomes attached to this main perspective. Again, these troubled, reclusive souls of Anne Rice's books work wonderfully because they essentially reflect universal themes of spiritual struggle. All of us equally,with some variance,feel spiritually bankrupt at times in our life even when we have a solid relationship with God. Similarly with the Jesus novels, spiritual struggles are not exempted from the characters even when their faith appears to be perfected. 

Whether you are a Christian or not, this novel should appeal widely to any readers that thirsts for an exciting mystery story that contains human characters with realistic flaws. More importantly, the spiritual struggles of these characters are equally faced by all individuals of differing faith backgrounds. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, and agnostics alike ponder the question of our purpose for existence. Even when our beliefs appear externally solidified. We still disbelieve the beliefs we thought we had conceived. At the time of reading this novel, I struggled greatly with the question of: "What  if my supposed belief in God is worthless after I become nonexistent when I die ? 

Meaning, after I die, the whole notion of having a conscious self will become a useless ideal. If there really is nothing after our deaths then "What really is the use of striving to morally perfect ourselves?" There would be no benefits or compensation for acting benevolently towards other humans. Because, in the short frame of our human lives, we'll only be partially experiencing the wonders of a morally-superb life filled with love. We'll only have glimpses of a perfected world where our pain and struggling truly works as a cause that will bring about an effect in the form of an afterlife which informs us that our endeavors are not completely useless. Toby O'Dare chooses to undertake the risk of facing the possibility of a meaningless existence because the other solution involves  having a belief that our inclination to love is an accidental , purposeless desire. Having a God be our endpoint serves not as an escape from the pain of the reality of nothingness. It strengthens the truth that our love, our dreams, and our desires are not manufactured by a soulless machine. Internally, there exists a soul that powers this insatiable desire for transcendence. When we peer at art or are overwhelmed by the ineffable beauty of rich, symphonic music, we are having otherworldly experiences that inform our need for a God. Anne Rice books mimic that same effect. Every time, I read her books; I sense the poverty of my soul and realize the many abstract qualities or mysteries of our world that prove to us that this universe requires a God. 

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