I am jealous. I can’t write long fiction. Sure, I’ve written two non-fiction books, but the most fiction I can concoct is a short story. It boggles me how anyone can craft an entire novel out of a story, weaving the plot in and out, this way and that. It's like creating ex nihilo, out of nothing. How can they take a twisted and tragic tale and turn it on its tail into redemption and hope? How can they get me to suck in my breath like that, or coax my tears to dribble down? And keep doing it for 337 pages? I just can’t do it. Meg Moseley can. And Meg Moseley is now the object of my envy.
Actually, I was guilty of coveting before I even read Meg Moseley’s novel When Sparrows Fall. It was on my wish list, waiting for me to buy it, waiting for some extra book money. My sister, well, she already had it on her Nook. Hmmph. But my sister is kind, and decided to buy me a copy, too, because she believes in its message and wanted to share it with me. We’re very different, but in this we are alike. Sisters are like that sometimes. Oh, and I should say my sister is an aspiring novel writer, too, with a few full length manuscripts to her credit. Pffft. I can’t do it. I’ll stick to non-fiction. Like this little book review.
By now you’re wondering when I’ll actually tell you more about Meg’s book, other than to hint about tragedy and redemption. We’re getting there, honey! Hang on!
Not all of us can write novels, but we each have a story. Miranda, the protagonist of When Sparrows Fall, certainly has one, but she’s not owning up to all of it. Maybe that’s because she doesn’t feel she even owns her own life. In her adult years, her decisions have all been made for her either by her late husband or her pastor, both domineering men who use fear and legalistic religion to control others. The outside world has always been painted as ungodly and dangerous, so her family has lived in near isolation, like birds in a glass cage. Now she’s a widow left with six young children, a log cabin in the woods, archaic books for home schooling, and her faithful old camera. She wants to rebuild her life, but where to start? And what happens when she suddenly can’t do anything for her children or herself, and she has to depend on the kindness of a stranger? How can she trust this half-brother-in-law Jack Hanford, whom she has only met once and whose life is so worldly compared to her own? How can she counter the spiritual abuse of Mason Chandler? And how can she keep her secrets buried, her children protected, her sanity intact?
This is not just the story of Miranda. It is the story of countless hidden women and children who are held in spiritual and emotional bondage by those who claim to have their best interests at heart. This is the story of coming into one’s own, of finding the life of liberty, truth, grace, beauty, and love that we are all meant to enjoy. That is a story we all share.
God sees when sparrows fall. And in this case, he gently picks one up, puts a song in its heart, touches its wings with strength, and releases it into the glories of flight.
Who is Meg Moseley? You can read more about her at her web site, http://www.megmoseley.com/ and her blog, http://megmoseley.com/megs_blog/ but for starters, she was a home school mom for over 20 years. She has three grown children and lives in Georgia. She once worked in a candle factory. She rides motorcycles. That’s another thing I don’t do, but I don’t envy that one. Meg wants you to understand the importance of fairy tales in a child’s life. And she wants you to think deeply enough to care about women who are oppressed in the name of religion. If you’re of the mind to share books and thoughts with ones you love, Meg included a Reader’s Guide of 14 thought-provoking questions at the end. My question for you fellow mommies is, “Who you can reach out to with a helping hand and words of truth and grace?” Because sometimes, you’re the one he uses to tend to his wee sparrows.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7
You might also like to read my 2008 blog post, His Eye is on the Sparrow. It’s not fiction, but it is my story of a little bird. Oh, and some music, too: a contemporary rendition by CeCe Winans and Lauryn Hill of the grand old spiritual “His Eye is on the Sparrow.” Go ahead! Click it!
This review is my second in a series on gender, authority, and abuse. You can read the first one atQuivering Daughters by Hilary McFarland (A Review)
Why this series? The theme of emotional, spiritual and physical abuse has ranked really high on my radar in the past few years. I wish I could say this is just because I read a lot, but unfortunately, I have known far too many dear people who are painfully affected by these problems in their own homes and churches. Their stories haunt me. At times, there is really not much I can do for them but to encourage them, offer resources, and pray. But there is something more I can do to keep it from happening to other families. I can write. Maybe not fiction, but I can write! So I have joined a growing cadre of bloggers who are addressing this issue, especially as it relates to home schooling, parenting, marriage, and church. I have written a number of articles touching lightly on aspects of these subjects, such as Help for Hurting Marriages. However, my first major direct foray into this realm was my article Child Discipline or Child Abuse? which I wrote last year after Lydia Schatz, an adopted child, was beat to death by her home schooling parents who had been reading child discipline books by Michael Pearl. That post received thousands of page hits in the first few weeks, and nearly 18 months later it is still getting daily visitors. However, just this past week, it was time for another heart-rending post, this time about Sovereign Grace Ministries, our former church denomination, in the wake of its current turmoil about abuse of authority. You can read it here: My Thoughts on CJ Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries. That blog post, like the other, has received thousands of visitors from all over the world. It’s been a really long and wearying week for me, rethinking and responding and rewriting. Much praying, too. I posted the sequel this morning here: My Recommendations for CJ Mahaney and SGM (From the Cheap Seats!)
Please pray for the writers and speakers addressing abuse issues wherever they are found. I can’t go into all the details of the challenges we face, but this is a critical time for us. We are just ordinary people, seeking to be used by God “for such as time as this.”