California Literary Review

Red – by Ted Dekker

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April 24th, 2007 at 4:36 am

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Red
by Ted Dekker
Thomas Nelson, 400 pp.
CLR Rating: ★★★★★

Sounding The Seven Trumpets

Ted Dekker, a young man immersed in Biblical verities and Trinitarian themes, has acceded to the idea, as David C. Downing wrote in his seminal study, The Most Reluctant Convert: C. S. Lewis’s Journey to Faith, that “Christianity would become the fountainhead of all myths and tales of enchantment, the key to all mythologies as the myth that unfolded in history.”

In Red, The Heroic Defense, Dekker’s brilliant utilization of Christian doctrine and pagan myth provides a resilient foundation upon which he injects a hyper-imaginative storyline with simple, yet crisp dialogue, twisting plots, and layered realities.

There is a decided veritas that springs from Dekker’s work. He understands that man is bound up in an evil that permeates his soul, “the stain,” as the ancient prophets have said. And Dekker’s acknowledgement of that stain, in the body of his work, continually reinforces his thesis. It is this total understanding of the intrinsic element of sin in human nature that make the writer’s work both provocative and redemptive.

Dekker once again proves-as he did in his prior novels, Blink and Thr3e-that an ostensibly “Christian” writer can entertain the secular reader. In short chapters and fast-paced prose, he hooks the reader before they realize that they’re getting a rather large dose of Christian doctrine!

With wit and originality, Dekker has reintroduced what Thomas Howard in his book, C. S. Lewis, Man of Letters, spoke of as the “crux” or the “real landscape” in myth. Is this crux both inside and outside the human psyche or only within? Lewis argued that the initial assault on human imagination began perhaps as early as the late Middle Ages and with it the rejection of external realities; that is, we can not “verify” that which is outside, only that which is within.

The gods, fauns, and fairies were replaced, in time, by the cold, technical reality of modernity: computers, databases, and nanotechnology that promised to lead us to a better world. Modernity’s destruction of imagination is nearly complete. Social engineers tell us our struggle is no longer against what Lewis defined as, “principalities and powers,” it is against “mere social injustice.”

In his “Circle trilogy” Dekker has seized the initiative-eschewing modernity’s fundamental premise, rejecting scientism, and mocking moral relativism. Sherlock Holmes’s arch-villain Moriarity seems like a misunderstood, run-of-the-mill psychopath when compared to Dekker’s Svensson! For Svensson has released the Raison Strain virus into a world in which no anti-virus yet exists! All of mankind has been exposed and there are only a few weeks to find a solution before the stench of death covers the globe. Only a young, would-be novelist, Thomas Hunter, has the ability to thwart the evil that confronts mankind-but only in his dreams. Because it is in his dreams that Thomas Hunter ascends to the reality of Elyon’s domain. A reality engaged in a conflict that threatens to destroy his people, the people of the Green Forests. Will the “histories” be written, or will Thomas Hunter succeed?

Before reading Red, The Heroic Defense, it is imperative to read Black, the first book in Dekker’s trilogy. Otherwise, the reader will find it difficult to grasp the storyline.

“Fiction,” philosopher Russell Kirk once wrote, “is truer than fact.” For fiction, if it is well written and predicated on truth spares us “numberless painful experiences.” Ted Dekker, in his work, strives to reinvigorate, strengthen, and replenish what Kirk referred to as the “moral imagination.” He has unlocked the door and peered over the abyss. What lies beyond is weighted with the wisdom of the All Knowing. Kirk’s wish that the future would bring writers “…who remember that in the beginning was the Word” has come to fruition in Ted Dekker, who lives in the high mountains of Colorado.

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