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Exploring the mythic glory of man
Much religious teaching has been dedicated to convincing us that man is inherently evil and desperately in need of redemption. In his new book, Waking the Dead, popular author John Eldredge approaches that concept from a radically different angle. "I daresay we've heard a bit about original sin," he writes, "but not nearly enough about original glory, which comes before sin and is deeper to our nature."
"Why does a woman long to be beautiful? Why does a man hope to be found brave?" Eldredge asks. "Because we remember, if only faintly, that we were once more than we are now."
A Colorado-based writer and seminar leader, Eldredge is well known to Christian readers for his clarion call to lead wild, adventurous lives, a message outlined in such earlier books as The Sacred Romance (with Brent Curtis). More recently his bestseller, Wild at Heart, has spawned a phenomenon with its directive that men should define themselves in the image of a passionate God.
In Waking the Dead, Eldredge draws on the power of the mythic structure, populating his narrative with figures from fairy tales, movie screenplays and Bible stories to make his point. He is just as likely to cite Neo and Morpheus from The Matrix as he is to refer to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. "Neo takes the red pill; Lucy steps through the wardrobe; Aladdin rubs the lamp; Elisha prays that the eyes of his servant would be opened; Peter, James, and John follow Jesus up on the Mount of Transfiguration. And all of them discover that there is far more going on here than meets the eye."
Eldredge insists that these stories confront us with the deep truths of life and are a means by which the eternal expresses itself in time. His conclusion that the regenerated heart is good may be shocking to some contemporary Christians, but it is a message that will resonate within the hearts of many readers.
Mike Parker is transplanted Texan who writes from his home in Nashville.