Thursday, August 14, 2008

My Novel - Hiding Isaac

I'm reading a book by colleague Bruce Chilton called, Abraham's Curse about violence and sacrifice.  

I've been fascinated with  Abraham's Binding of Isaac for a long time.  That was the focus of my own sabbatical four years ago.  More on that later.  What I wanted to say about Fr. Chilton's book -- and most treatments of that bizarre incident known as the Akedah (or Aqedah) -- is that most of the time we tend to look at it on a spiritual or even symbolic level.  

You know:  It's the defeat of child sacrifice.  It's a foreshadowing of Jesus.  It shows how we must give up everything to trust God -- and our trust will be rewarded.  It justifies violence if commanded by God.

I'm a bit too concrete for that.  I have read and re-read that whole cycle and can only look at it on a human level.  What REALLY happened?  How did they feel?  Why do we gloss over the little details like Abraham leaving that mountain of sacrifice ALONE?  Or his NOT returning to Sarah in Hebron but going down to Beersheba to live instead.  

In reading this narrative -- one that doesn't even give a record of the conversation between Abraham and Sarah when he took their only son to kill based upon divine orders she did not hear -- I decided it needed a treatment that was not so much spiritual as human.  This is a great human story and needed to be handled as such.  

So, I spent my sabbatical writing a novel, Hiding Isaac.  I was pleased with myself, especially when I got an agent quickly.  But that relationship went sour, and after a couple of rejections from other agents, I stuck Isaac in a drawer and sort of forgot about him, dragging the manuscript out once in awhile to tweak it.  Finally, I gave it a complete overhaul (because it was pretty bad), and now I'm ready to start playing with it again.

Maybe it's still no good -- I don't know.  But it does tell a fantastic story from a unique perspective.  

Now, I'd like your help in making that story better and getting told to more people.  So, I am going to start printing Hiding Isaac right here on "Web and Church" in regular installments.

If you will read those installments, I'd appreciate it.  Even more, I'd love for you to give me CONSTRUCTIVE feedback.  While comments such as "very nice" or "I enjoyed it" are themselves nice and enjoyable, they don't necessarily help me make a better novel.  Please DO make positive notes about parts you feel are particularly strong/funny/poignant, but also please note areas that need strengthening, are boring, or confusing.  

Finally, PLEASE let me know if you will be one of those readers -- or if you like it and are in a professional position to do something about it.  Either way, I'm happy to hear from you.