Van Til Tool

Using the Van Til Perspective as the tool to discover what life means and how it ought to be lived.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


Mary DeMuth Writers Her Memoir -- Literary Style

A Review of

Mary DeMuth Thin Places: A Memoir (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010)
ISBN: 978-0-310-28418-5 219 pages

Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz

I entitled my review as I did to stress that this book is very clearly the memoir of a writer -- a very good writer, and, as such, it is written with the same concern for literary artistry she has shown in her novels. If you have never read any of her novels, you will probably feel like doing so after having read this memoir. That is, if you appreciated her concern for reality. Since DeMuth was sexually abused as a child, she has had those horrible memories with which to contend and has had to fight a strenuous battle to gain mastery over her past instead of allowing it to control her. Clearly, then some of this memoir will be tough to read.

But the overall picture is that of triumph through the resurrection life of Jesus of Christ. And her testimony is that the very struggle to overcome the pernicious effects of the sordid events of the past has brought her closer to God and developed in her a maturing of her understanding of what authentic christian piety means. Although some of this struggle is horrifying, such as having to endure horrendous nightmares, there are also many humorous anecdotes of her portrayals of some of the silly things she used to do and believe when she was a new christian. In that regard I especially enjoyed the chapter on Jim Elliott, which was very signficant for me because Jim and Betty Elliot have been very important to me.

The title of her memoir refers to a Celtic mythological belief that the wall which separates our world from God is thin at certain places, thereby bringing God close and allowing Him to get through to us. DeMuth has found in her experience that the "thin places" have been the very struggles to overcome the devastating effects wrought in her life by the abusers in her past. This is the principle that has usually been stated in this way: "God shouts during affliction".

However, the book is not only about these struggles. There is plenty of "ordinary" stuff here too. In this way her memoir is like her novel about Maranatha entitled Wishing On Dandelions. We are told many other things about Natha in addition to her abuse. In fact, we not only read of her struggle against the effects of abuse, we also read of her efforts to help someone else. This is wise because one of the effects of sin we need to overcome is to stop being self-centered and to be caring about other people and how we can help them.

But the abuse factor does loom large here, and is something that needs addressing because it is becoming a national plague. DeMuth claims (p. 205) that from 25% - 30% of all women have been violated in one way or other. And DeMuth's motto for her ministry is that of "Turning Trials Into Triumphs". And she states on the mailing which accompanied my review copy of her book that this is the reason for writing the book: "I knew that by telling my story others wouldn't feel alone. And I have the feeling my own journey will help others heal."

The release date for Thin Places is February 5. I strongly suggest that on or shortly after that date that you buy and read this book.


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