Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Books For the Season

Before ending Term 1 I spent the final couple of weeks reading Vinegar Boy to my children. It was a book I've remembered long after having it read to me as a child & I was excited to obtain our own copy to read. I remember the ending being different back when it was read to me, & I noticed the final chapter alone is dedicated to a classroom of children. I have no idea if it's part of the revised edition or if I just remembered it differently.

Vinegar Boy is a young boy, thusly named because he carries drugged wine to the crucifixions. He has no true family being abandoned at birth due to a wine birthmark on his cheek. It is this mar on his cheek that causes him great angst & shame, for people make fun of him & others feel he is marked. Vinegar Boy is loved & cared for by a man who wishes to adopt him, but Vinegar Boy fears it wouldn't be right to allow this to happen until the mar that marks him is removed.

He knows without doubt that the Nazarene can do just that & asks for a day off in which he can seek the Nazarene out to acquire the miracle he needs to clear his cheek. The day Vinegar Boy is to set off he is first required to take vinegar to the crucifixion that is taking place. Only 2 of the unfortunate ones are known, but the third is not, & it isn't until arriving he realises exactly who the third person is.

Through Vinegar Boy's story you'll walk with him through that heart wrenching day. You'll find other familiar faces in the story & hear their heartache. You'll visit with Pilot during his manic episodes for his own role in the story, & even hear Barnabas' side of the story.

The author has stuck to the account of the story written in the New Testament adding a bit here or there to help the story run along. My only warning is that there is some strong descriptions of some of the horrors the crucified are put through & the book may best be saved for older listeners.

When we begin a term break I tend to book binge for a day or two & this was my choice to binge on.

This story focuses more on Lazarus & his emerging faith as he came to know & love Jesus. The story starts out with a very mournful Lazarus who is attempting to move beyond the loss of his wife & child, & weaves it's way through the many familiar parables, stories, & peoples we encounter when reading through the first 4 books of the NT.

The story moves forward as Lazarus meets Jesus while He is being baptised & then follows him through the feeding of the 5,000 & more.

By the time the book ends admittedly I felt the need to compare a variety of the instances in the story with the actual descriptions in the Bible, not because I wished to prove the author's wrong but because I was curious how much they wove together vs how many connections I have missed during the many times I'd previously read those books myself.

My eldest listened in with me a few times, mostly because he flitted in & out of the room I'm in, but what he heard he enjoyed & I have no qualms handing it to him to read on his own. In fact, not only will he love it for the story that it tells, but I think he'll equally appreciate it for the history it holds that he covered last year.

The book does, of course, cover the death of Lazarus & his resurrection to life at the call of his name. This particular chapter may cause some minor contention for people depending on their view of what happens to one after they are no longer breathing on earth. In the book Lazarus sees himself dead on the bed one minute & is welcomed into glory the next. Despite the theological differences I had with that particular scene I still fully enjoyed the book.

The story does not walk through the crucifixion, but rather ends with Jesus's entry into Jerusalem which is where the author has Jesus weep. Interestingly enough it didn't mention his weeping at the death of Lazarus. The author has Jesus weep at this moment when people are honouring his entry without fully understanding who He is & what they will do to Him next.

Again, I'm not picking holes in the story. I actually really appreciated the book as it was written. I think it will be delightful to go back through the Gospel of John & read it perhaps while re-reading When Jesus Wept. The book is available both in audio & book form. I actually listened to it in audio form & enjoyed the narrator & occasional special effect.

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