The State of our Heart – Virtual Discussion

The Redeemed Reader Team is discussing books this week in light of our Wisdom & Wonder Week 1 Theme: Turning to God/Away from sin. We are looking specifically at how our favorite literary characters are turning to God and away from sin.

Earlier this week, we posted general discussion questions for this theme that work with any book your family is currently reading.  Today we are going to discuss this theme in light of our anchor books and other works of literature and pop culture!

Alysha: One of my favorite things about studying literature is the idea that characters are not all they appear to be at first glance. It takes time getting to “know” them through reading their stories. Richard Malory, the protagonist of The Playmaker, learns this lesson when it comes to the theatre. He was raised to believe that all actors were against God, and through his story, he finds out that it’s more about the heart of a person than what they do for a living.  Jesus, our true Wise Man, spent time learning the heart of a person, and encourages us to do the same. I’m excited to discuss this concept with my fellow Redeemed Reader ladies!

Wise Up Weeks 1-2 discuss how we must learn to trust Jesus, the real Wise Man. We cannot rely on our own hearts but must surrender and allow Jesus to mold our hearts to Him. In our anchor books, Wise Up, The Playmaker, The True Prince, and The Wilderking Trilogy (ages 8-14), do you ladies see the theme of turning towards God and away from sin reflected in the texts?

Betsy: King Darrow, in the Wilderking books, is a clear portrayal of the Old Testament King Saul, and his pride and insecurities are on full display. He’s a striking contrast to Aidan who–although recognized widely as the Wilderking of prophecy–adamantly supports King Darrow and shuns the crown for himself. It is Aidan’s humility and desire to honor the king that helps draw people to his cause. Aidan is frequently calling the prophet’s words to mind as he struggles to determine what to do; this is reminiscent of our own turning to the Lord for guidance rather than following our own agendas. In The Secret of the Swamp King, a particular character has followed his own prideful vanity and desire for power, setting himself as king. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it yet, but keep this week’s theme in mind as you read that second book!

Janie: In our young-adult anchor books, the closest thing to a conversion is experienced by Christopher (Kit) Glover, introduced to the reader as “the best boy player in London” with a reputation to protect and years of accolades to feed his pride.  In The True Prince, he has dissatisfied with his position and longs to move up to the next level of his career.  When he stumbles, however, his pride takes a hit and he takes the broad path that leads to destruction.  His journey is a little like the prodigal son’s: from top of his game to the equivalent of feeding pigs.  Whether he turns to God is unclear in the story, but he does make a clean break with sin.

Are there any other stories, films (or even comics) that show the benefits of turning away from our pride and selfishness? What happens when characters rely solely on their own strength or versions of “wisdom?”

Alysha: What I love about Shakespeare (and stories set in that era) is how readily they apply to our lives today. Themes of wisdom and folly are sprinkled throughout these works. One of the most intriguing types of characters in all of Shakespeare is the  “Wise Fool.” This is a type of character that is usually a servant or court jester, but who speaks with wisdom. Sometimes other characters listen to them, sometimes they are ridiculed or ignored. What I find fascinating is that their wisdom is not changed by the other characters’ reactions. True wisdom from God is not measured by how we react to it, the Truth is always the Truth. It is how we respond to wisdom that shows if we trusting God or our own foolishness.

Betsy: I think Beauty and the Beast (and our many discussions in March!) reflects this theme, particularly in the backstory of the Beast (and why he’s a beast!) and in Gaston’s contrast to the Beast. Selfishness and pride are beastly attributes, while those who are focused on others show a beautiful spirit.

Megan: Many other fairy tales reflect this as well. I think of The King of the Golden River by John Ruskin, in which two of the brothers are selfish and greedy and they, along with many others, suffer consequences. When the youngest brother is kind and self-sacrificing, everyone is blessed.

Alysha: Great points ladies! I also love how fairy tales can clearly show readers the differences between choosing self-sacrifice, and choosing selfishness. Another example that came to mind is the comic book character Thor and his journey from self-important prince to a humble hero. 

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