Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Friday, August 7, 2015

I AM PILGRIM...maybe

CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

Christ In Winter is an unlikely venue for reviewing a book like I Am Pilgrim, [Atria, 2014] by Terry Hayes, especially since it is his first novel, and his former writing career was writing “Mad Max” movies. What could be spiritual or theological about a modern day spy thriller, in which the usual lone wolf hero, straight out of a Western movie in earlier times, chases down a lone wolf terrorist, bent on destroying America?

Actually, anything can be spiritual, and everything is theological, and that’s the rub here.

First, though, let me say that it’s a ripping good story, with great detail that is interesting rather than boring. Hayes has done a lot of research and uses it well, to advance the story, rather than using it to impress the reader with his research skill. It’s a thick book, 612 pp in pb, but thick does not mean dense. Just as a spy thriller, it’s an excellent piece of work [I can’t imagine writing this and keeping all the details straight], and a good thriller read.

Back to the rub… Is Hayes doing subtle theology, spiritually? Why does the hero choose “Pilgrim” as his under-cover name? Is it an evocation of Milton’s Pilgrim’s Progress? Or is it just John Wayne swaggering and calling everyone “Pilgrim” in one of his Western movies? And when Pilgrim quotes Mark 16:6 at the end, is he actually being biblical, especially since this novel is about the secret world of spies and Mark is the Gospel of “The Messianic Secret” [He could have gotten the same quote from a different Gospel.], or is it a grotesque misuse of the central tenet of Christian faith [resurrection]?

I can’t say more without ruining the story for you…

John Robert McFarland

I tweet as yooper1721.

Joe Kirk lost a leg. Lonnie Blifield lost his eyes. Victoria Roundtree lost her skin. “Zan” Zander lost his mind. Four homeless and hopeless Iraqistan VETS who accidentally end up living together on an old school bus. With nowhere to go, and nothing else to do, they lurch from one VAMC to another, getting no help because, like the thousands of other Iraqistan VETS who are homeless, unemployed, and suicidal, they do not trust the system and refuse to “come inside.” After another fruitless stop, at the VAMC in Iron Mountain, Michigan, a doctor is found dead, and the VETS are accused of his murder. Distrustful, strangers to America, to each other, and even to themselves, they must become a unit to learn who really murdered the doctor, so that they can stay free. In doing so, they uncover far more, about themselves and about their country, than they dared even to imagine. My novel, VETS, will be released August 15 and is available for pre-order on Amazon, etc. now.

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