My good old 1980 edition of the New World Dictionary of the American Language defines (in my own paraphrase), “classic:” 1) being a model of its kind, 2) having a balanced, formal, and objective style, 3) well-known, 4) able to last because of its simple style.
I choose to review class books, and a few others that have not yet stood the test of time, because I don’t want these marvelous stories to fade into oblivion. We are a culture that constantly anticipates the next hot item, another shiny, new bauble. Some of the bright and attractive novels of today will become classics; most will not.
To start 2015, I’ve chosen to review (or introduce you to) Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. Like John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Hinds’ Feet is an allegory.
“Allegory:” a story where people, things, and events have symbolic meaning; used to teach moral principles.
Do kids even read allegory anymore? Think about it. Every novel that teaches Biblical truth in an author-created fantasy setting is a subtle form of allegory.
Hurnard and Bunyan are more direct. People’s names describe their personalities. Place names inform the reader of the problem to be solved, the obstacle to be overcome, or the conflict to be resolved.
Would I have read Hinds’ Feet as a child? I’m not sure. I wasn’t brought up with a Biblical worldview, but I’ll assure you of one thing. During the rare crises in my family, I would have read Hinds’ Feet from cover to cover.
The main character is named Much Afraid. How many teens do you know who are afraid? Of peers, of the future, of their own inadequacies. Much Afraid goes on a journey with the Shepherd.
credit to pastorwcdq.blogspot.com
For nineteen chapters, the Shepherd leads her on a circuitous route to the High Places. He assigns to her two companions, Sorrow and Suffering. As they travel together, Much Afraid gains strength until she —
I don’t want to give the end away! For now, be content to know Hurnard uses wonderful parallels to portray the Christian walk and dying to self. (And for more on dying to self, check out this month’s post at www.my2ndnature.wordpress.com on taking tests over and over again.)
If you know a kid going through rough times, if you are going through a tough, terrifying season in your own life, I can’t recommend Hinds’ Feet on High Places highly enough. In fact, I believe if your walk with Christ is going smoothly right now, you can read it, enjoy it, put it down, and say “nice story.”
KEEP IT. Jesus leads all of us on a circuitous route of rugged mountains to climb, desert wastelands to cross, and raging rivers to ford. When those times come, read Hinds’ Feet again. Hannah Hurnard’s words will soothe your soul.