Recently, I read a new book from Ignatius Press called The Rising by Bob Ovies (click the link to buy it now!). Let me just say that it’s certainly not a genre that I usually read–somewhere between a sci-fi and paranormal. When dead and embalmed people start coming to life, it tends to make us uncomfortable. I admit, I was tempted to quit reading, glad that it was just fiction that I could put down, but by the time I finished, I found myself wishing it had happened.
Here’s the genius of this book: it makes you squirm a bit as a little boy, not a very religious one at that, finds that he has the power to bring people back to life. But, then you have to ask yourself: if this really happened, how would I respond?
Would I be Fr. Mark?
The parish priest of 9-year-old C.J. and his mom, Lynn Walker, is a faithful parish priest, but has to consider how much he really believes in the REALITY of our Faith when faced with a miracle in his own parish, at the funeral home where he just finished leading the rosary for a deceased parishioner. He doesn’t want to believe in the miracle, and hopes that there is another explanation.
Or would I go for the gold-mine like Joe Walker?
Joe is C.J.’s dad, a salesman just trying to get ahead. His selfishness has already cost him his marriage, but his ex-wife allows him to stay in the boy’s life because she thinks it’s important for C.J. When Joe realizes that the boy really is the one bringing people back to life, he wants to get rich quick. Throughout the book, Joe is trying to find ways to, in effect, “sell” his son’s power to the highest bidder.
Would I react like Cardinal Schaenner?
In The Rising, Cardinal Schaenner is the archbishop of Detroit where the story takes place. Once he is convinced that the miracles are truly taking place, he seizes the opportunity to stage the biggest evangelization event of history…but without regard for the individuals involved.
Would I be Bennington Reed?
A wealthy man who is close to the Cardinal through financial gifts and friendship, Bennington Reed envisions this power being the next step in the evolution of the human race and the beginning of a utopia without sickness, poverty, or evil.
Or would I be like Lynn Walker?
C.J.’s mother, Lynn, just questions “why us?” and wants what is best for her son.
You read and question your own reaction, your own faith, your own belief. What if miracles like this were taking place in your hometown or parish? Do we really believe? In the end, Lynn Walker and C.J. do have an answer for why it happened, but I can’t give that away. Read it and see the true miracle in someone’s life.
And the hope that the book gives you? The reason I find myself wishing I could hear someone speak these words to me and not just read them in fiction. Marion Klein, a woman brought back from the dead by C.J., reassures him:
“Do you know what I’m trying to say, C.J.? I don’t know if I’m saying it real well, but do you know what I mean?”
He stared at her. He nodded once. Then he said very tentatively, “Yeah, you mean . . . it’s okay if we die.”
Marion took a deep breath…
“Not exactly that. Not that. What I’m trying to say is we don’t really die. That’s what I want you to know. They say we do, but we don’t really die. That’s the gift.”