This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Publishers and marketers send me a lot of books to review. I don't get around to most of them because I'm busy (indifferent, lazy and not very bright). But occasionally one just grabs me.
Recently it was a book on what hunting can teach us about Jesus Christ. On its face, Treestand Devotionals by John Van suggests that a deeper understanding of God can be achieved by tracking down and blowing the brains out of his creations.
Note: I am not anti-hunting, anti-animal, or even anti-religion. I am hugely pro-irony. It's a cross I bear.
Another note: I'm not a biblical scholar, either, but I'm fairly certain there's no proof that the Lord ever shot an animal. There was some purported deliberate mistreatment of swine (Matthew 8:32), but that's about it.
Based on the promoter, Van's book is actually more about spirituality he found in those quiet times (of which there are a lot in a tree) when there was nothing to shoot.
It's probably an excellent read if you're Christian and a hunter. Since I haven't read it, I can't really comment on what's inside.
Finding God up a tree wasn't all. The subtitle of Van's book is "Nothing Happens with a Dull Sword … Nothing."
Although hunting animals from a tree stand with a sword seems rather impossible, I suspect "sword" refers to being an instrument in the hand of God. You have to keep yourself sharp if you want to be that. I guess.
But it occurs to me (as it so often does) that lot of things can happen with a dull sword. For starters, you stand less of a chance of cutting yourself with it. A dull sword also makes an excellent plowshare (Isaiah 2: 3-4).
A really dull sword can even be a hammer. Maybe use it to build a house instead of hacking people to death. Like I said, it's just the way I think when people attempt to define absolutes with analogies.
Virtually anything can be parlayed into an analogous explanation of spirituality or life for the purposes of marketing. I haven't seen this book yet, but it's only a matter of time before the title On Fire With the Lord: Understanding Christ Through Arson crosses my desk.
At least part of the problem here is being human. The most effective way to relate an experience you've had is to put it in terms others can understand.
Unfortunately, these terrible parables are often limited to one particular group. It's doubtful Christian vegans are going to get much out of a title like Moose Hunting With Jesus.
If you were to write a book about your thoughts on a particular dogma, what would you title it? Neapolitan Ice Cream and the Trinity has a nice ring. So does I'm Going and You're Not: Anticipating the Rapture.
It doesn't have to be a religious book. It could just be what you've learned about the nature of your life through long pointless experience. Shouting Down Wells: A Search for Deeper Meaning.
My own life has been a journey of crime and punishment. Someday maybe I'll pen a book titled Post Operative Ponderings: Repentance through Surgery or Overcome by the Spirit: Sermons Partially Understood by a Narcoleptic.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.