Christian Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Excerpts

Memory’s Door Quick and Compelling

  • Glenn McCarty Contributing Writer
  • 2013 20 Sep
<i>Memory’s Door</i> Quick and Compelling

Author: James L. Rubart
Title: Memory’s Door
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

James Rubart’s Memory’s Door is a trippy, layered concoction, a Frank Peretti-meets-Ted Dekker tale of spiritual warfare that’s also a compelling commentary on the state of evangelical Christianity in the post-Christian era.

In Soul’s Gate, the first title in the series, Rubart introduced four believers whose lives changed with the ability to transcend the laws of the physical universe and jump into others’ souls. Led by Reece Roth, they were called the Warriors Riding, and gathered in spiritual retreat to hone their abilities. Soon, they were training others in that ability, as well as gathering other abilities related to the spiritual reality. Sound Peretti-esque? That’s the intent here, as fans of stories which zip back and forth between realities – including time-space jumps – will find this an irresistible combination.

In the sequel – as is often the case in sequels – the enemy strikes back. The Warriors are informed by their leader Doug that their newfound bond has drawn the attention of a mysterious opponent known only as The Wolf. He threatens to challenge their successes and undermine their power to heal others’ lives through their retreats at Well Spring retreat center.

Memory’s Door is most successful at the vision it creates, of a world where the division between physical and spiritual realms isn’t a wall, but a door. The four Warriors have the ability to ask a question of the Spirit, and hear an immediate answer, almost audible. Could this lead readers to wonder, “What if I were that devoted? Would it be possible?”? This certainly seems to be part of Rubart’s aim.

As a storyteller, Rubart doesn’t feel the need to consistently drop the pedal. Much of the first half of the book moves back and forth amongst the ensemble, methodically developing each one’s individual conflict. In addition to Reece, there’s Dana, the radio station executive, Brandon, the rock star, and Marcus, the college professor. Each is tested in his or her own way, but lurking beneath all the conflicts is the sense of a guiding hand moving strategically to undermine all the spiritual victories occurring under the leadership of the quartet.

But Rubart’s most compelling thematic strand involves the struggle between the Warriors and the Wolf. Without spoiling things by revealing the identity of the Wolf, let’s say it’s a well-placed leader within the Christian marketplace. What this creates is a battle between two different strands of the evangelical community. To simplify, it’s the Reformation-old struggle between the law and grace. Not only does each side believe in the validity of its cause, each side is reading the same Bible and interpreting and following it accordingly. So who’s right? What’s more delicious is that neither is completely right or wrong. It’s these kind of gray areas that for too long have seemed absent from the larger dialogue within evangelical Christianity, with many vocal leaders seeking to tout the rightness of their cause at the expense of real conversation.

That may be a tangent from Rubart’s intent, but it’s clear that he’s seeking to do more than just spin a thrilling yarn about the battle between flesh and spirit. He seems to enjoy taking the stick and giving the hornet’s nest a few pokes, just to see what pops out. If readers’ minds run to those points, he’s succeeded. If they enjoy getting sucked into the world of the characters without mulling deeper themes, that seems to also be fine. What’s clear is that after this volume has picked up steam, the third installment, likely headed our way next year, won’t slow down an iota.

*This Review First Published 9/20/2013