f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n: Book of the Week - <em>The Passion of Reverend Nash</em>

f a i t h * i n * f i c t i o n

Monday, December 08, 2003

Book of the Week - The Passion of Reverend Nash

This week’s book for discussion, like Liars and Saints, is another 2003 general market release. The Passion of Reverend Nash, from Norton, is the second novel from author Rachel Basch. The book follows the trials of Jordanna Nash, pastor of a small Connecticut Congregational church during a month or two of suffering that might rival even Job. Indeed, the novel’s epigraph is taken from poor Job’s account—My lyre is turned to mourning, and my pipe to the voice of those who weep.” You will not be surprised to learn that this is a hard-hitting, emotion-packed book.

It also deals explicitly with THE big question—How can you have faith in the face of pain? How can you believe in a beneficent God in the midst of suffering?

It won’t ruin the book to say that Basch really doesn’t offer any specific answer. Like the debate from last week, she merely offers up the life, actions, and thoughts of her character, Jordanna, as one hypothetical response. Our job isn’t really to say whether Jordanna is right or not, but to examine how we might react in the same situations.

Frankly, this book drove me crazy for the first 200 pages. As the crescendo of disasters faced by Jordanna rises to its clamorous peak, you begin to feel the author’s hand pulling the strings. The novel faces the danger of becoming a string of contrivances. In just the last moment, though, it pulls out of its freefall, it turns on its dime, and it gives Jordanna room to face the bedlam her life has become. What comes next is challenging, provocative, and transfixing. It saved the novel for me, raising it in the meanwhile above petty melodrama to a worthwhile contribution in the debate over what Lewis called “the problem of pain.”

So that’s an overview of the book and my thoughts of it. Tomorrow we’ll look at the problem and possibilities of choosing a pastor/priest/reverend/preacher as a main character. If you'd like to read more about the book, here's one longer review for your browsing.