Clear Winter Nights
Young man struggling with his faith.
This is one of the better written books that I have read recently. Altho it is fiction,the book is true to Biblical principles and communicates very well the struggles of a young man and his faith. It was heart warming to go thru the journey with Chris and his wise, seasoned and Godly grandfather Gil.
The book was true to Biblical priciples and written in a way that grabbed ones attention. It addressed real issues of doubt with real answers,not just platitudes. I hight recommened the book to ALL readers. Don't often do this. Thanks Trevin Wax
January 20, 2014
Clear Winter Nights
Clear Winter Nights, by Trevin Wax, is a story about a young man (Chris) who is struggling with his Christianity. He comes to a point in his life where he is not sure what he believes. He is easily influenced by those around him and is not able to defend his own beliefs. This allows him to consider taking the easy out and conforming to those around him and their beliefs. His grandfather (Gil) was a pastor for many years and is recovering from a stroke. Chris spends the weekend with Gil, supposedly to help his grandfather out, but as the story progresses, I canÃ¢ÂÂt help but wonder if ChrisÃ¢ÂÂs mother set the whole weekend up more for ChrisÃ¢ÂÂs benefit, than GilÃ¢ÂÂs.
Gil realizes that Chris is experiencing some doubt and inner turmoil Ã¢ÂÂ he doesnÃ¢ÂÂt actually confront Chris, but through their conversations, he is able to help Chris to see where his doubt might be coming from and share with him his years of wisdom and personal experiences, so Chris can make his own educated decisions about what he actually knows and believes. They cover quite a variety of topics: what is the truth, how a Christian is defined, going against Ã¢ÂÂthe normÃ¢ÂÂ, not trusting your own strength Ã¢ÂÂ¦ many feelings or situations each of us may experience at one time or another as well as topics the world is trying to justify as Ã¢ÂÂnormalÃ¢ÂÂ. It is good for reinforcing your own beliefs and could definitely help you if you yourself have some questions or are confused with regard to certain ideas.
I received this book for free from Water Brook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review, but that, in no way, affects the honesty of my review.
November 14, 2013
great mix of theology and easy reading
Clear Winter Nights: A Journey into Truth, Doubt, and what Comes after (Multnomah Books, 2013) by Trevin Wax is a fun read, with lots of Ã¢ÂÂWOWÃ¢ÂÂ moments. YouÃ¢ÂÂre reading along, enjoying the story, and suddenly theological truth is staring you in the face.
This is the story of a 22 year old college student, active in his church, who everyone assumes is going to enter the ministry, following in the footsteps of his grandfather. Then life happens to him, skeletons in his family are revealed, and the resulting crisis of faith leaves him wondering if his faith is real.
Admittedly the plot is a little hokey at times, a little too pat, but even when the scene is predictable, Wax manages to get his points across. Young Chris ends up helping care for Grampa after a stroke leaves him needing assistance. A snowstorm ensures that they have time alone for some catching up, and as is often the case, those who know us well can see right through our attempts to mask the pain. Pastoral care at its finest ensues, and along the way Chris has to examine his beliefs, his attitudes and values, and ultimately his faith.
Every time we adapt to the notion that weÃ¢ÂÂre reading a novel, we discover that weÃ¢ÂÂre holding a volume of theology. Sexuality, substance abuse, relationships, death, and so many of the Ã¢ÂÂbig questionsÃ¢ÂÂ are addressed in ways that donÃ¢ÂÂt require a degree in theology to understand.
IÃ¢ÂÂm torn as I try to rate this book: is it great literature? Probably not. Is it a complete theology? No. Did I enjoy reading it? Definitely yes. If I was in the t-shirt or bumper sticker business, this book would provide whole seasons worth of material. And one of the things I liked best about the ending is that enough of ChrisÃ¢ÂÂ questions werenÃ¢ÂÂt answered. Either so the reader can use the attached study questions to help him draw his own conclusions, or hopefully because in the not so different future weÃ¢ÂÂll be reading about another season in the life of Chris, a young Christian man who struggles with the same issues as most of us.
When Clear Winter Nights first appeared on the list of books available for me to review I passed on it, since I tend to be drawn to different types of reading material, but something prompted me to request the book, and IÃ¢ÂÂm glad I did. Just when you think youÃ¢ÂÂre curled up in front of the fireplace with a good book, King Jesus appears and shares another of His eternal truths.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.
September 29, 2013
Great stories can change lives
A good story can change lives. If you combine the right ingredients you can create a narrative to stir emotions, incite revolt, calm fears, and spark romance. Among these outcomes a good narrative can also bring someone to a deeper understanding of who God is and who we are. That's the effect Clear Winter Nights (Multnomah Books, 2013) had on me.
Trevin Wax brings the characters to life in a way that seems to relate to friends I have seen come and go. He makes his characters doubt and then brings them back again. He makes them feel pain and then causes them to rejoice. He uses the characters emotions and works them out in such a way that it sparks memories and emotions in the reader, which may have been buried or hidden for some time. In short, he connects the readers to the characters of the story in such a way that our doubts and fears are realized in this small narrative.
The main character of the story, Chris Walker, comes upon the scene as a man with a beautiful fiancÃÂ©e, a bright future, leadership opportunities, and the world at his fingertips, but there is only one kink in the system; Chris has overwhelming doubt as to his direction in life so he let's go of all those things and simply lets them fall to the ground. He then seeks a weekend of refuge with his grandfather who has just had a stroke. A well-known pastor, his grandfather Gil, reaches out to him in ways few would dare to do so, he gives his grandson the clear Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I don't understand how difficult it must be to combine deep theological truths with a good narrative, for I am skilled in neither, but I do grasp the necessity of doing so. Trevin has managed to write a compelling story while intermingling the theological trademarks of Scripture. Wax also incorporates into his writing, broad strokes of apologetics and evangelism, all the while upholding the story so that it does not become one big theology lesson. The following passage makes this point clearly.
Chris racked his brain, trying to remember the notes he took from Dr. Coleman's lectures on moral behavior in the world religions. He remembered enough of the main themes to get his point across. "Take the spring celebration. Passover comes during springtime. The Jews celebrate their freedom from slavery. It's a celebration of humans breaking the chains of bondage. Inspiring, really. A demonstration of the unbreakable nature of the human spirit and the longing for freedom we all share."
"Easter's the same thing. the triumph of the human spirit. Just think - here is Jesus standing up against he oppression of the Roman Empire, and after His death, His movement is carried on by His disciples until it outlasts even Caesar's reign.
Gil cocked an eyebrow and then interrupted. "Am I to suppose you're going to talk about how Islam celebrates the binding of Isaac, and how submission is the path to human greatness, right?"
Chris didn't respond, but he was thinking to himself, How did he know?
Gil chucked. "Pious poppycock," he said quietly
in this passage we see conversations many of us have had, we realize our own doubts about Christianity but Wax wants to take us further than questions. He provides answers and does not leave the reader wondering if the conversations trail off into nowhere. He brings them to a powerful conclusion.
This book was stirring at least, and life-changing at best. It presents a clear gospel according the Scripture and urges the reader to move beyond mere questions about faith. He urges the reader to action through the lives of the characters. As a fan of non-fiction writing, this is only the second fiction narrative I have read since High School, and that was over ten years ago. I enjoyed the book and will continue to enjoy more fiction if it's written in the same vein. I don't usually like stories but I would gladly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story with compelling characters and a strong conclusion. I hope to see some more from Trevin Wax in the future.
TREVIN WAX is managing editor of The Gospel Project, an all-ages small-group curriculum developed by LifeWay Christian Resources. A former missionary and pastor, Wax is a popular blogger (Kingdom People) and a contributor to Christianity Today. He is also the author of Counterfeit Gospels and Holy Subversion. He and his wife, Corina, reside in middle Tennessee with their children.
September 4, 2013