Let me first say, I did enjoy reading this book. It took a while for the real action to start, but once it did, it was pretty exciting and despite the fact I didn’t really care for the characters all that much given they were almost all obnoxious Christian proselytizers, I found myself rooting for them anyways.
If the purpose of this book was to convert unbelievers, it didn’t work. I’m still unabashedly atheist. However, I did like the final message, which was that you shouldn’t be an obnoxious proselytizer, you should instead treat people with compassion and live as best as you can according to the example set by Jesus. In other words, lead by example. As a Humanist who teaches compassion for the sake of compassion, I loved this part. However, the author ruined the moment by adding in a heavenly horde scene that was not only cheesy, but it took away from the final message.
I had a few problems with the way the book was written. These problems kept pulling me out of the story. I’m capable of suspending my disbelief, but that requires the story to make sense. This story had problems that kept causing me to leave the narrative and wonder what the heck!
For instance, part of the central drama is that there is a celestial war going. The problem is we are never given a back-story to this war. Since I didn’t know what the motivation behind this war was I had no way to sympathize with either side. This is one of those things I think Christians assume is obvious, but since I am not a Christian it wasn’t obvious and it left me scratching my head. I realize I was supposed to sympathize with team Jesus, but I wasn’t given enough to want to do that. By the end, all I could think is I don’t like either side in this war.
The other part of this war that bothered me was that the ground rules of this war didn’t make any sense. These rules kept throwing me out of the story and made me think – what the heck. There is a celestial war going on but all the angels and demons armed with swords and shields are unable to actually fight it except through human proxy. To be perfectly honest, the rules of engagement for this war were nonsensical and idiotic. After all, if Jesus Himself orders a guard to protect you, certainly that guard, should be allowed to protect you. In this book, they are not and I found that REALLY annoying.
As I got to the end of this book I realized I was comparing the Christian worldview presented in it to the Christian worldview presented in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. They both offer a “give yourself over to god completely and everything will be ok” belief. The way this mindset is presented in Uncle Tom’s Cabin is REALLY compelling. But the way it was presented in The Veritas Conflict comes off as pathologically delusional. I think the problem is that on the one hand; we are told the characters consider themselves humble and insignificant. On the other hand, the characters revel in the fact that they are part of Jesus’s select A-Team. It’s a lot like Voldemort’s followers vying for his favor in the Harry Potter novels. In other words, it’s not attractive.
My final critique of the book is that as far as social issues are concerned, this book was all over the map. She brings heartbreaking situations up, and yes, I cried. But they didn’t help me care about the main character at all. Compare this to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which focused on one issue, slavery, and explored its impact on real live humans from several angles, all of which were heartbreaking. The protagonist in The Veritas Conflict has no problem aside from not being allowed to tell people they are wrong without those other people arguing with her. The only tangible problem she has is that she is a willing pawn in a celestial war. It’s hardly the stuff to stir my compassion especially since we all know how this is going to turn out. Jesus is going to win. Regardless, I think this sort of fiction would be a lot stronger if it was more focused on one social issue that impacts our main character in a tangible, and therefore human, way.
By sharing her pragmatic Humanist approach to living life fully and intentionally, Jennifer has transformed the lives of those who have been touched by her work. By encouraging people be the best, most ethical humans they can be, she consistently challenges people to think about and question who they are, what they are and more importantly, how they want to be.
She is one of the few individuals in America who was raised as a Humanist and she brings her delightful sense of humor, creativity, and compassion combined with a no-nonsense approach to all of her work and her coaching. She will help you focus on what really matters in your life and will teach you the practical skills you need to live your life the way you know you should be: ethically, compassionately and responsibly.
She is the author of:
- The Bully Vaccine, and
Note From Nikki: Many thanks to Jennifer for sharing her views on this subject! Please keep all comments respectful. If the discussion is civil, no comment will be deleted. Tomorrow I will feature Christian author, C.S. Lakin. Stay tuned! For more information on this week long series click here.