Today marks my return, after a long absence, to the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Blog Tour. My schedule has been jammed, and -- I must be honest -- some of the previous books didn't appeal to me enough to try wedging them in among other items on my "to do" list. (My, that sounds pompous, doesn't it?) I admit I may have been mistaken about those titles, but I can say with unalloyed truth that I am glad I read the subject of this tour: Lost Mission by Athol Dickson:
Let us begin the story of La Mision de Santa Dolores on the holy day of the three kings, in Italy, in Assissi. To commemorate his twentieth year among the Franciscan brothers, Fray Alejandro Tapia Valdez made a pilgrimage to his beloved San Francisco's humble chapel, the Porziuncola. For more than a week the friar prayed before the chapel's frescoes, rarely ceasing for food or sleep. But despite his lengthy praises and petitions, despite his passionate devotion to Almighty God, Fray Alejandro was a pragmatic man. He did not believe the rumor, common in his day, that the frescoes' perfection was beyond the ability of human hands. As we shall see, in time the friar would reconsider.My first thought as I read the opening lines: This reminds me of one of my favorite books. Though it has been years since I read it and therefore my memory may be faulty, were Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop a person, it would embrace Fray Alejandro as a kindred spirit.
But the good priest is not the only character we follow through the tale. There is also a wealthy man and his daughter, a well-intentioned but misguided young minister, a Mexican man seeking work north of the border, and Mexican woman who believes God is calling her as a missionary to the United States. Their storylines in the present interweave with Alejandro's in the past, until they all converge at a single moment in time, with explosive results.
On the less dramatic side, I found gentle humor in how Catholic characters believed Protestants in error, and vice versa, and yet they each learned how much someone of a different religious background can still love God, seek to serve Him, and be used by Him.
There is much fodder for discussion -- even debate -- in Lost Mission, and I hope to cover a few of those topics over the following two days. Meantime, visit the following stops along the tour for other opinions and insights:
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Rebecca LuElla Miller
New Authors Fellowship
John W. Otte
Donita K. Paul