Book Clubbers, I want to dive right in to today’s section in Shiloh by Helena Sorensen (Chapter 13-26), so if you haven’t read them yet or don’t want any spoilers, I’ll give you a couple more sentences. But then? Consider yourself warned :).
What other books is Shiloh reminding you of? I keep thinking about The Giver primarily, but also The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and Hinds Feet on High Places. Now, most of these books I have’t read in years.
Okay, diving in.
As I reflect on this section, I did not see Abner’s death coming. I think I sensed something big was going to happen on the hunt, but ever the optimist, I thought either Simeon or Amos were going to come through in some way that made the town less suspicious of Abner.
One of the aspects of this book I am loving is the beautiful language. It either reminds me of truths I know or invites me to view my own life and the times we live in from another angle. For instance:
- As Abner is dying, “There’s more than Shadow. Don’t forget.”
- When the dead were burned they were “given back to the light.” Though many didn’t know what that meant. How many in our world do or say things but they don’t know the history behind them.
- The way we entered into a story in a different way when we have personal connection to it. “He thought about his father’s story of the Great Cataclysm. He saw the story in a whole new light, now that his own world had been unmade, and nothing could ever restore it to its former beauty, its former innocence.” (1249)
- At the end of Chapter 15 and on into Chapter 16 how Amos was hunted (we learned) by Mordecai. We learn he is a shifter. Isn’t it true in your own story that there are certain times you have felt hunted?
- And the achingly beautiful phrase as Amos interacted with Mordecai and drank Miri’s blood: “The hairline fracture in the foundations of his life was broadening. He felt the shifting, the sharing of all he had once held sacred.” (1377)
- When Wynn basically gave up I was curious what gave her children the gumption to keep going. Interesting that Wynn, Amos, and Phebe chosen different paths as they reacted to Abner’s death. So true in our own complex relational webs.
- Amos traded “his glory for a bit of power.” (1628) This hit close to home, didn’t it? Thinking of all of those around us who have made similar trades without fully comprehending what they have traded. And then the phrase that having made the trade “he imagined he had never felt better, never been stronger, never seen the world more clearly. He was wrong.”
Skipping ahead, as I reached the end of this section I am reminded how we are in the messy middle of the story. I’m not sure how Rosalyn and Isodle factor in (and that bride stealing? Awful.). Or how Orin is going to claim his place in the Star Clan. Or if Phebe will let Simeon love her.
So many questions! Once again, Helena graciously answered questions I had after reading this section.
How much freedom (and flip side, restraint) did you feel in telling a story with echoes to another, rather familiar story.
The setting or premise for the Shiloh Series is most certainly allegorical. In writing my first draft of Shiloh, I struggled with the idea that I had to do it all–tell the full story of the gospel, get the character of God spot on, etc. It didn’t take long, though, before I regained my sanity and remembered that no one can do that. Even the parables of Jesus, rich as they are, tend to focus on ONE thing at a time. So I took a step back and let the characters run free. There was no purposeful plotting (I don’t plot, anyway) that was designed to parallel the Great Story, apart from the creation story, which establishes the rules and conflicts of their world.
Someone asked me a couple of years ago if escaping the Shadow was my picture of salvation. No. It was not. I think the image is more complex than that. We live in two worlds at once, and while one is full of darkness, it is passing. The other, the eternal realm, the realm of light and freedom and joy, is actually presently available to us. In a final, lasting sense, we are seated at the right hand of God, we are complete in Christ. In a final, lasting sense, we have every need met in Christ. But because one foot is planted firmly in the realm of space-time, we also experience failures and inadequacies, we have needs and unmet desires, we suffer and groan and lack. I believe it is possible to fully mourn these things while at the same time entering into and reveling in all that awaits us beyond this Shadow. In writing Shiloh, I hoped to give the reader a space and context for both.
Well, obviously I’m wrong (or wrong-ish) about Amos and Simeon. Even though Jonathan and David spent big chunks apart from each other, they were always for each other. Interesting to think about how Saul was so very against David, compared to Abner being for Simeon. Still no question in this “question,” just thought you might like to see how my mind is mulling!
Very interesting. I just love the way Simeon blossoms under the care and kindness of Abner and Orin.
How did writing this middle part—where the story is still one of being “unmade”—personally impact you? It is more hard or cathartic to write these parts of the story?
To be perfectly honest, while I ached with the characters in their suffering, I enjoyed writing the difficult passages of these books. For one, I felt that I was being true to their world and also to the experiences of most readers (to some degree or other). Second, I grew up in a world of, a family of, a culture of, secrets. Giving voice to the characters’ pain felt like a holy undertaking to me.
Again, thank you Helena for taking time to share! We appreciate it.
Last week Helena shared music from Shiloh, this week, she has created a Pinterest board to help visualize the world of Shiloh. (Not everyone wants images to mess with the pictures you have in your head. You know which kind of reader you are!). What themes stood out to you in this section? How you are seeing your own faith from a perspective you haven’t thought of (or at least not in a while)?
P.S. The reading plan for Shiloh
February 14: Chapters 1-12
February 21: Chapters 13-26
February 28: Chapters 27-38 (the end)
Connection Group registration will open tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. EST. You can see the Connection Groups available this year here.