Q&A With Author Jack Cavanaugh
- Monday, October 10, 2005
Actually, this has been a recurring theme for me. In the seventh book of the "American Family Portrait" series, The Victors, I had a German soldier who was a Christian but not a Nazi. In fact, he was more committed to his Christian faith than his American counterpart, a very dangerous position to be in while serving in Hitler’s army.
The theme resurfaced and blossomed with the trilogy, the "Songs in the Night" series. I have a German pastor who wrestles between speaking out for his faith when it endangers those he loves. You know, given this kind of scenario we usually ask ourselves what we would do if someone put a gun to our head and told us to curse Christ or die. Sometimes that’s too easy. I wanted to take it a step farther. What if someone put a gun to your head and told you to curse Christ or you spouse would be killed, or your child? In "While Mortals Sleep," my German pastor knows that if he speaks out against Hitler, he will endanger the life of his young wife and their unborn child.
With "Dear Enemy" I explored a similar theme that has always plagued me, that of Christians fighting one another on opposite sides of a war. For example, during the Civil War we had Christians on both sides praying to God for victory, which in essence meant they were praying for the deaths of other Christians. Yet, what are we to do when our government leaders tell us that an enemy is threatening our very existence if we don’t take up arms and stop them?
"Dear Enemy" begins with the usual atrocities of war which make it so easy for us to hate and fear an enemy as a whole. Only when my American nurse meets an enemy personally does she realize that the enemy has a face and that often war pits good people on both sides against each other based on a political agenda. Sometimes I think that if it were a requirement that we had to get to know the people we were fighting against before we started shooting, we might find another way to solve our differences.
Q: How did you come up with the beginning where the bride is in the cemetery?
A: It was a natural setting given the story and characters and I liked the contrast. I used Ft. Rosecrans which is set on a peninsula with San Diego Bay on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. Soldiers going back to the war with Mexico preceding the Civil War are buried there. Literally thousands of graves. I have the story beginning after the war. A bride in cemetery shows that while the price of peace has been paid by the lives of so many men, life goes on.
Q: Clearly, forgiveness is the main theme of "Dear Enemy."
A: Because it’s a major biblical theme, one that is so easy to teach, so easy to embrace in theory, and yet so difficult to practice when we’ve been hurt. Jesus told us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us. What better place to explore what that means than caught between two armies in one of the most horrific battles in history?
Q: What is your favorite verse from the Bible?
A: Philippians 4:5 "Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near."
Q: Do you have any new projects on the horizon?
A: At present, I’m writing the third book in the "Great Awakenings" series. "Storm" is set during a little known time of revival in America, Yale College. After I complete it, I will write the first book in the "Kingdom Wars" series, the supernatural suspense series. I’m really anxious to get started on it. Then, I’ll complete the revival series with "Fury."
Q: Who is the person who most influenced your writing life?
A: I hate superlatives, most … I always have difficulty reducing sweeping aspects of life to a single person or moment. I guess I would have to say Dr. Drakeford at seminary since it was he who planted the seed in my mind to write.
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