If you have ever wrestled with the dual nature of man, how we can be redeemed saints while at the same time fallen sinners, then let me suggest you spend a little time reading Sailing Between the Stars: Musings on the Mysteries of Faith by Steven James. Focusing on the key word agathokakological, which is the condition of being equal parts of good and evil, James indicates that the reason we relate so well to stories about Saul becoming the Apostle Paul or Dr. Jekyll becoming Mr. Hyde or Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader is because we all identify with that spiritual war within all people.
James admits that the Christian faith is an enigma, a true puzzle, in many ways. He says, however, that most people are so caught up in the hectic pace of their day-to-day lives, that they don't have time to think it through or to see that life, itself, is quite a puzzle. In 20 very readable chapters, James examines and illustrates the mysteries of life and shows how the Christian faith has the answers to these mysteries. Through Christ, life does have meaning and it does make sense.
In chapter one, James tells the story of how his sixth grade daughter had to learn the word agathokakological as part of her spelling bee competition. He looked it up, studied it, and found that it meant that the human heart had motives, dreams and passions that were "from below and from above, bestial and celestial" (p. 11). He then says that he came to see that this was true because "we are both the Spirit-breathed children of God and the expelled rebels of the kingdom...We've all listened to the snake. Yet, we're also children of the Father" (pp. 11-12). After introducing this problem, James spends the rest of his book defending the Christian faith, despite its "paradoxes at every corner." To him, the paradoxes are the very signs of Christianity's truthfulness.
James says that one paradox he loves to be baffled by is the question of who is seeking whom. Is man trying to find God and to know Him, or is God constantly seeking to restore the original relationship He had with man? James doesn't know the answer, but he says that one way or the other, God and men find each other, and that is a true miracle. Another paradox James loves exploring is in his last chapter, where he points out that both children and adults love fairytales in which the dead hero or heroine miraculously rises from the dead, i.e., Snow White receiving a kiss from a handsome prince so that she will arise from her deathlike coma. This shows, says James, that mankind has an innate understanding of the miracle of Christ's resurrection.
This book has a gospel sharing style that is similar to the writings of C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton, in that it shows common longings and needs among people and corresponding elements of satisfaction offered by Jesus. Both new and seasoned Christians would benefit from exploring these pages. – Joseph P. Gudel, Christian Book Previews.com
Faith doesn't always make sense.
We live in a world of tension, and as much as we'd sometimes like it to, our faith was not meant to relieve that tension but to make some sense of it. Through stunning essays and evocative stories, Steven James explores the wonder, paradox, and presence of Jesus in life today.
Without trying to decipher or diminish the mysteries of a life of faith, James leads you deeper into the rich texture of the breathtaking story God is telling our planet. Rather than limiting God to human understanding, you can discover the joy found in not being able to ever fully comprehend the Creator or the depth of his love. From funny to poignant to profound, but always pointing toward God, James's stories help you develop a worldview of wonder at the incredible world in which we live.
There's never been a better time to get to know this God who is illogical, unreasonable, unrealistic, and incredibly and unmistakably true.