Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fallen by Matthew Raley / Not Recommended Reading!

I got this book to review because I was fascinated that it was written by a Pastor, and that a Pastor had written on this topic. You might need some background about me. My Granddaddy was a Pastor, and my Mother is a minister. My Daddy also does Prison Ministry as well. With my background I thought this would something I should read.

I felt that it started out well. By page 56 I really thought things were really going places! I was not only reading the book, but wondering what the real life writer has already been through in his life and Ministry. Plenty of the real life working politics of running a church were included in the book. That part was probably very nice for people who have no idea of how somethings in churches are done. I was a little concerned about how the women in the book were portrayed, but it wasn't enough to upset me for most of the book.

However, the ending really disappointed me. I was left feeling that it was too open ended. I was saddened at how things ended. It might be more like the real world, but I have seen that scenario play out too many times in real life. I know the outcome, and I know the pain that happens. So I was just really sad about the ending of this book.

Then the weeks were passing while I was waiting to post this review. I got more and more upset over this book when I would think about it. I started to wonder why was this even released as Christian fiction? I wondered why on Earth would a PASTOR write something that could harm and hurt so many people when they read it? Did he forget to think what the horrible open ending would do to people? I considered an e-mail interview, but I just couldn't stomach it right now. I don't wish to hurt a Pastor, or anyone else, but I do wish with all my heart that he would re-write the ending of this book before it hurts many people. Sadly, but oh so truthfully, I could not recommend reading this book, but rather to stay away from it so that you will not wake up at night with it bothering you that it is out there on a shelf.

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
(Kregel Publications February 29, 2008)
Matthew Raley

Matthew Raley is senior pastor of the Orland Evangelical Free Church in northern California, where he lives with his wife and two young children. For fun, he enjoys playing chamber music with friends, giving occasional solo recitals, and playing first violin in the North State Symphony. This is his first book.
Jim was at work when his eyes drifted to the coffee shop visible from his office window. An attractive woman driving a Mercedes pulled up to the curb . . . and Jim’s married pastor emerged from the car. When Jim delves deeper into his pastor’s world, will he be able to handle what he discovers? Is he right to suspect that Dave is having an affair? In the behind-the-scenes church battle that ensues, Jim is torn between duty to his church and a desire to show grace. A ripped-from-the-headlines drama of suspense that keeps you engaged to the last page. Fallen is the story about Jim’s relationship with Dave—how Jim tries to do the right thing to keep Dave accountable, but finds the situation getting worse and worse. It’s also about Jim’s other relationships. Just as he discovers hypocrisy in Dave, Jim discovers his own sins against his wife and daughter.


Andrew Clarke said...

Hi Carol,
I would love to hear your opinion on "Outcasts of Skagaray", by Andrew Clarke. In particular, what is your view of the way the women are characterised? They are meant to be strong and effective, but warm and kind as well. The author is a male person who has been friends with several women, is still in a loving marriage with one special one, and tried to make the female characters real, not stereotyped.
It would be great to hear what you have to say!

blogger said...

The ending was abrubt, but why let yourself get so emotionally manipulated by a little book! I'm glad it didn't have a "good ending", it's a breath of fresh air not to have a sappy, unrealistic ending like so much of christian fiction today! Did you get the underlying message at all?

Carol E. Keen said...

Dear Mr. Andrew Clarke,

I will do my best to get a copy of your book, "Outcasts of Skagaray". I would love to see what you have written! :D If you have the best place to get a copy, do let me know! :D

Now to work on answering your question. I felt that the women in "Fallen" were shown in a weaker light, one with out the Power of God in their lives. They did not come across as strong praying women. That made me frustrated. The daughter just cried, and hid, while the issue with the Pastor is set up to easily lead her into her own fall. One over night forgive me from her Father will not fix her emotional issues so that she will be become a target for the enemy.

While real, it was so sad that the wives in this book had major issues just talking to their husbands. The main wife had problems just sharing what was in her heart, and wow...hubby didn't tell his own wife what happened with his Father for all those years! That would really harm a marriage. To keep something from your spouse for that long would hurt horribly when it came out. I was not pleased that the Pastor's wife was just left to fend for herself with her 3 children, and no where to turn. How does that show her and her young children the Healing Love and Power of God?

The issues left at the end of this book, and yes they happen in real life, they only leave a rip-tied of pain and people who never "darken" a church door again. They were not being set up for counseling, which at that point they *all* needed to be in a good deal of Christian Counseling.

All the lives of all the people in this book were ripped apart at the ending. While it is often real life, I can't help but feel that as writers we are responsible for any amount of guidance we can give in our words. Only God's words are promised to not come back void. I have watched this real life story play out more than once. It is a horrible thing to have happen.

Thankfully in most of the cases I have been in or watched more of God's kids stepped in and helped clean up the mess and keep the "least of these" from falling through the cracks and never being close to God again.

Please let me know if that answered your question or not!
Thank you for your comment!

Carol :)
Carol E. Keen

Carol E. Keen said...

Hi Marilyn,

Some questions for you to think over are right here. Have you personally walked this issue? Have you watched a Pastor, a Man of God falls into sin and leaves? Have you hugged the people as they cry? Have you watched their desperate attempts to keep their children's lives from falling apart after it happens? Have you watched the number of people who never want to go back to God afterwards???
I have. Sadly, I have more than once be in a church that split, or had a Pastor leave, or had a Pastor in sin get um "sat down". And it hurts like everything *every time* it happens to any church. LIVES are DESTROYED if it isn't handled right. My issue isn't that this book isn't a real life issue. My problem is how the issues were not handled in this book. They were ignored, and not dealt with, and the aftermath that would follow in real life makes my heart heavy.

Carol :(