In The Evolution of Thomas Hall by Kieth Merrill a story is told of an extremely talented artist, Thomas Hall, who is an agnostic. To him, there may or may not be a God, but either way it has no influence on him, so long as he can draw and paint. The problem is Thomas feels deep in his soul that the beauty he sees in the world around him that he loves to paint – colors, shapes, forms – could not have just fallen together randomly. He himself is an artist and he recognizes other art when it is displayed before him. Nevertheless, he desires total independence in his life and does not want to be controlled by or even beholding to any God.
Life is filled with ironies, and so it is that the agnostic Thomas Hall receives a commission from a large Catholic hospital to paint a 90-foot mural that will depict many of the miracles performed by Jesus, including giving the blind sight, walking on water, and raising the dead. At first, Thomas thinks he should decline the job, although he needs the work. However, he accepts the challenge when influenced by two young women, Cass and Christina. Thomas learns that Christina is terminally ill, yet she has a strong faith in Christ Jesus and an optimistic outlook on life that Thomas wishes he could understand and also have. Through her and through his own analysis of the New Testament, he slowly begins to develop faith in a God whom he never actually believed existed. Along the way, he gains a new understanding of music, love, and life that lifts his artistic skills to new levels.
In writing this book, Kieth Merrill relies heavily on pictorial metaphors and similes, making the writing flowery but visual and graphic. He likes to use all five senses in helping the reader take part in his main character’s work as an artist. He is honest in confronting the reasons why people often resist the call of Christ, but he is faithful in showing the unfailing love of a Savior whose hand is always outstretched to the wayward soul.
This book is entertaining and also spiritually challenging. It investigates the heart and mind of a creative individual, and simultaneously it reveals the creative genius of God the Creator. – Halle Wilkerson, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Thomas Hall is a brilliant but brash young artist who has the talent of the old masters and an eye for color and women. But when he runs short of cash, he finds himself torn between illustrating a mural on the origins of man for a natural history museum a tribute to Darwin and illustrating the miracles of Jesus for a display inside a children s hospital called the Healing Place. A self-proclaimed agnostic, Thomas must dig deep within himself to believe beyond his doubts as he wrestles with that elusive something called faith. Then he meets a young, critically ill girl named Christina. Her haunting past and undeviating faith will test the very soul of Thomas and that of every reader.