I read somewhere that preachers ought to read a lot of fiction. But having finally found reading enjoyable after college was primarily due to the work of non-fiction. I wasn’t quite ready to make much of a change. Sure I had read some fiction here and there with classics like Dostoyevski and a few others, but the challenge eventually prompted me to vary up my diet just a bit.
So this summer, due to recommendation from Trevin Wax who blogs at The Gospel Coalition website, I “picked up” The Awakening of Miss Prim.
Set in a fictitious town in Spain, the story centers around the journey toward love, truth, and faith of a young secular librarian. She comes to work for a knowledgeable, charitable, but intimidating older bachelor who homeschools his nieces and nephews. Miss Prim finds herself surrounded by a town that never capitulated to western individualism and secular modernity. It operates quite differently, and yet quite successfully from a completely different worldview.
Within her antagonistic dialog, we see that secularism fails to lead her to the ultimate truth and beauty she seeks. I’ll not reveal which direction she turns, but I will say that it is in this dialog, we see the impact of beauty, community, dialog, and patience.
In fact that was what grabbed my attention from the get go. Aside from the writing and storyline, which I loved (I think gals would love this book, though really did as well), I think this book sets up a nice
The book merits such praise, but Fenollera’s work is much more profound. With a generous serving of tea and cake, The Awakening of Miss Prim subverts the secular worldview and challenges contemporary orthodoxy regarding marriage, the economy, the place of religion, what constitutes progress, and the definition of feminism. Fenollera’s tender treatment charms the reader into wanting the main character (Miss Prim) to give up her stubborn, secular ways and give in to the dazzling mystery of the Christian faith….She defends Christianity’s social teaching by painting a portrait rather than just mounting an argument, but even then, her portrait does include debate and logic and argumentation. You can read the rest of Trevin Wax’s short review here.
The arguments in favor of Christianity point to more than it being true-which it is-but to it being beautiful. And perhaps folks might just be more open to consider it as beautiful, as they see it lived out in a broken but beautiful community? Listen to the challenge of the librarians employer…..
“So seek beauty, Miss Prim. Seek it in silence, in tranquillity; seek it in the middle of the night and at dawn. Pause to close doors while you seek it, and don’t be surprised if it doesn’t reside in museums or in palaces. Don’t be surprised if, in the end, you find beauty to be not Something but Someone.”
The way this woman is invited to taste and see, and given opportunity to dialog and defend within a gracious yet truthful community, is perhaps the best way to love and reach those outside the faith.