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Living by the Truth



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by Lillian C Larry

living.jpg

ISBN 1 4137 6805 9
Publish America, 2005
303pp, paperback or e-book
Retail price $24.64

Lillian C Larry is a devout Christian and a skilled interpreter of the gospel, who needs no help from me in her quest to convert others and is too polite to complain about the fact that I am very late producing this review. She has already produced several works on the subject of her faith, and Living by the Truth is her 2005 offering. Its purpose is to offer advice on how to live a Christian life.

Ms Larry deals with the trials of everyday life, and the questions that these raise for the ordinary man or woman attempting to set a Christian example and follow Christ’s word. It takes a humble person to accept advice from another, fallible human being, and the author is taking on a massive task. It would be only to easy to trot out platitudes and make all our dilemmas sound a lot easier than we know they are. Happily, Ms Larry does not adopt a hectoring tone. She seeks to guide rather than chastise her readers. Encouragement, not criticism, is the order of the day.

On the other hand, her idea of what constitutes Christian behaviour is quite narrow. For example, the word, "bullshit", is condemned as being unsuitable for use in conversation by a believer. Now this is not a word I use every day, and I quite take the author’s point that a person should be able to control his tongue if he wants to control other aspects of his own behaviour, but I’m afraid I couldn’t agree with her that the use of this particular word (considered fairly mild in the UK) constitutes any great departure from the Christian path.

If you think that Ms Larry ticked off her interlocutor for his use of bad language, however, you’d be wrong. She went home and prayed, and the response she received was that she should show forbearance and not try to correct other people in every little error. She sees it as her role to explain how God will help us to identify the correct course of action in a given circumstance, and that has to be helpful to those who pick up this book in a genuine hope of learning.

Sadly, I feel that most books of this type are destined to be read only by those who already believe in Christianity, but that doesn’t mean that those people who do read it will not find it a worthwhile experience. The author has worked really hard to find the scriptural passages to back up the words of wisdom she offers, and it is difficult to quarrel with her when she says things like "God is not gay and never will be!" Yet somehow one can’t help feeling that she has missed the point.

In fact, I find the whole book rather too abstract in terms of its expounding of the Christian word, whilst at the same time it is too specific in its view of right and wrong. "For a woman to lie down with another woman is no different from a woman lying down with a dog or a cat," she warns us. Well, patently it is different. I’m not pleading the homosexual cause here, but I can’t see a practising lesbian being deterred from her way of life by such a statement. They would, I’m certain, be looking for some kind of rational argument.

This is the whole trouble with religious belief. Those who have faith don’t really need logic. Unbelievers, on the other hand, need to have a reason to change their ways. They are liable to see Ms Larry’s efforts as those of someone who believes she knows better than anyone else – wrongly, I feel, but this is how they will see this book, and I'm quite sure the author knows it. It does take guts, in the permissive age, to publish your beliefs, in the certain knowledge that most people will find them old-fashioned if not just plain wrong. It is, however, a Christian duty, and this author does her best to fulfil it. End of lecture.

Open Book

Review by Deborah Fisher

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