SHADOWMANCER: A TANGLED TALE

By Marcia Montenegro (page 2 of 5)

Written April/May, 2004

A Christian will likely conclude that this figure is Jesus (because of the phrase "the eyes of the cross"), and many will recognize the words about being "knitted together" in the womb as coming from Psalm 139, but anyone else who is either not familiar with the Bible or who has little or no Christian background is not necessarily going to understand who this man is or why he is saying these words. Why believe in this man? Why is he a king? Why should Thomas know his voice? Why is this man able to forgive? What is the uniqueness of this man?

Nevertheless, Thomas decides to believe the man; he can feel the man's "majesty and authority," and the man's face "radiates pure white light" (53). The man refers to this light by saying, "It is the light of the world" rather than "I am the light of the world." This appears to be a direct revelation of Christ to the boy Thomas, but crucial parts of who Christ is are missing. Also, since it is clear that Christianity is already in the world, why the mysterious message with no references to the atonement and resurrection? The possible answer to this is provided by the author, who has said that this is not a Christian book, but a book primarily for Christian, Judaic, and Islamic monotheists (please see Addendum). And despite this encounter, Thomas later thinks, as he views a public hanging, that it is "a cruel God" who can give and then take life (103). If Thomas had had such a glorious encounter with Christ, why would he later think God is cruel? At the very least, this is confusing, especially considering the book is for children.

The unnamed man gives Thomas a "belt of truth" and a sword, telling him that his enemy is the "father of lies" and a "devouring lion" (54-55), all Biblical statements, with the belt and sword coming from the armor of God in Ephesians 6, the "father of lies" said by Jesus in John 8:44b, and the other found in 1 Peter 5:8 where Satan "prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." These are New Testament quotes (and there are others elsewhere), although Taylor has stated that he used only Old Testament quotes in the book ("Yes, I've quoted from the Old Testament, but the Old Testament is the book of the Jew and the Muslim as well. That's why I did only quote from the Old Testament so that it did have an appeal for those of no faith and faith," quote at http://www.surefish.co.uk/culture/features/030703_gp_taylor_interview.htm, accessed 4/26/04). The belt and sword in Shadowmancer are literal, and are used later by Thomas to fight the opposition.

Acts 4:12 tells us that "there is no other name by which men can be saved," and Romans 10:9 says that "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved." In Acts 10:43 we read, "He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name." The resurrected Christ is a very specific person: "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). In other words, one must know that it is Jesus who is the Christ, and that it is specifically Him whom we must believe. Since the story clearly takes place in a time and place where Christianity does exist (though represented wrongly by Demurral), the revelation of Christ and his name has explicitly been revealed. There is no reason to obscure or leave out Jesus' name or his title of Messiah or Christ ("Christ" is the Greek translation for "Messiah," meaning the "Anointed One").

Unclear Identities

Raphah, Thomas, and Kate encounter a mysterious personage dressed as a shepherd who tells them that the "cattle on a thousand hills belong to me, not even Solomon in all his glory had the wealth that I possess" (238), fusing two Biblical passages together (Psalm 50:10 and Matthew 6:29) and changing the words of the Matthew verse. The stranger tells Raphah that "his people" are descended from Solomon and that it is Raphah's task to "save the Keruvim from those who would use it for evil" (238). Raphah wonders who the man is and the stranger responds, "I AM WHO I AM. This is all you need to know" (239). He then gives instructions to them for an escape from the villains, telling them to keep trusting him. The earth beneath the man glows, his clothes change, and he says, "I will be with you always, even to the end of the time," as golden light swirls around him (239). Raphah declares later that this was Riathamus, and when Kate asks how he knows this, he responds, "I just know, don't ask me how. It was his voice, something in his eyes. It was the way he knew so much about us" (240). (Much is made in the book about knowing people by looking in their eyes). Was this God the Father or Jesus? Or is it supposed to be both, or either? If the book is written for Jews and Muslims as well as Christians, then it cannot be Jesus. And why the strange words about Solomon?

Later, Kate, Thomas, and Raphah encounter a mysterious stranger, Abram, who seems to have been sent to help them by a godlike "friend," who seems to be the shepherd encountered by the children earlier. Kate asks Abram who this friend is, and Abram answers, "He has many names, some are known to the world, others are secret only to him. His name is really important; but knowing him is all that really matters" (276). How does Abram know some names are "secret?" And if the name is "important," why is it not given? Abram also responds that he calls on "his name" every day, "since long before you were born. I AM, Riathamus, or just the longing of the heart are names for him" (277).

In the Bible, God identifies himself to Moses as "I AM THAT I AM," but in other places is revealed as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Righteous One, the Lord, the God of Israel, the Lord God, the living God, the Shepherd, the Lord Almighty, etc. He does not hide behind esoteric puzzles about who he is. And how can "the longing of the heart" bring us to God since we are told in Jeremiah 17:9 that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" Our heart does not lead us naturally toward God.

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