Van Til Tool

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

Thursday, December 30, 2010


A Very Unusual Boy – And – His – Dog Story

A review of

W. Bruce Cameron A Dog's Purpose (NY: Tom Doherty Assocs., 2010)
                                314 pp     ISBN: 978-0-7653-2626-3

Reviewed by: Forrest W. Schultz


     Stories of a boy and his dog have always been among my favorites. One of the best of these stories I have ever read – and the most unusual – is Bruce Cameron's recently published A Dog's Purpose. The title is well chosen because this is a story of a dog telling us how he found his purpose in life. Or perhaps I should say "lives", because this dog had to live several lives before he learned and achieved his purpose.

     This story is the best one I have ever read showing how things look from a dog's perspective. As this dog narrates his experiences we find ourselves empathizing with him. The experiences range all the way from the mundane to the poignant to the humorous. The story is so captivating and so well-written that it is difficult to put down. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010



A Review Of

David C. Downing Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel (San Francisco, CA:

Ignatius Press, 2010) 285 pp ISBN: 978-1-58617-514-6

Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz


C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien and Charles Williams are well knows as authors of stories; and many books have been written about their stories. But, as far as I know, David Downing's recently published book is the first time these men have been characters
in a story. Downing rightly regards this as so important that he subtitles his book "An Inklings Novel". The Inklings were friends of C. S. Lewis (including Tolkien and Williams) who met regularly in Lewis's home.

Although Downing's book is a work of fiction, the ideas expressed in it by these three Inklings are truly theirs. This can be easily verified because Downing has placed in the back of the book a Notes section indicating the sources of these ideas. This is unusual for a novel but is not surprising when we consider the fact that Downing has been a scholar of Inklings lore for many years and has authored four award-winning books on C. S. Lewis.

The focus of Looking for the King is aspiring scholar Tom McCord's quest for historical evidence to prove the existence of King Arthur. McCord is soon joined by another young American visiting England in 1940 – Laura Hartman, who is searching for the meaning of her mysterious dreams. Their adventures soon morph into another quest – finding the fabled Spear of Longinus. In their conversations with the Inklings, Tom and Laura not only receive help for their quests but also discussions of the relationships of the quests to matters of eternal import.

Like almost all quest stories, this one includes sinister forces; but, unlike most of these stories, this one has no gunfightes, no fisticuffs, no car crashes, and no "woo-woo" stuff. There is sophistication not only in the story's dialogues, but also in its action.

I concur with Thomas Howard when he says that "…Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams would be mightily pleased with Looking for the King. All Inklings lovers will be highly delighted." (from rear jacket) I also believe that this story will provide a good introduction to the Inklings for those who have not yet made their acquaintance. It will give those readers at least an "inkling" of what these men were like.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


 A  Christian  Fiction  Version  of  "Heroes"



A review of


Stephen R. Wilson The Gifted, Book 1:  In The Beginning (self-published, 2010)
                              $12.00   314 pp   ISBN: 978-0-615-40421-9


Reviewed by:  Forrest Schultz


     The book under review here immediately reminded me of the television series "Heroes".  I do not want to say much more about the comparison than that because I never got around to watching all the shows in the series.  The main parallel I would like to draw is the mystery of how these "heroes" received their supernatural gifts and why.


     In The Gifted we are told that the gifts were given to these people by an extraterrestrial civilization intending to use them in its war against another ET civilization.  This we learn at the beginning and the end of the book.  But that does not completely solve the mystery because of the ambiguity of the exact nature of this group.  A few of their names sound like Biblical ones -- Trinity and Zedek Kessed; but most of the names are those of the ancient Greek deities:  Zeus and Hermes and Dionysus and Athena and Apollo.  And the comments on the rear jacket of the book indicate that whatever plans for these gifted children which these extraterrestrials do have may be oveturned by "Someone" (presumably referring to God) who "has entirely different plans for them". 


     This is not to be unexpected when we consider that the author, Stephen Wilson, is a Pastor and the book is a work of Christian Fiction.  Wilson, in fact, is so concerned about Christian Fiction, that he not only is writing his own, but also does a lot of reviewing of Christian Fiction, and that he is an active member of The Lost Genre Guild, whose members are Christian authors of science fiction and fantasy (and other types of "speculative" fiction).  Information about him and his writing activities is available at


     The characters in Wilson's story are interesting and well-developed and the action is fast paced and holds the reader's attention.  But, frankly, I did NOT like the inordinate amount of jumping back and forth in time.  It was not really needed for the story and tends to confuse the reader.


     Book 1 ends with The Gifted, now adolescents, being brought together and readied for transport to their destiny in outer space.  I intend to read the following books in the series to discover what awaits these superheroes there:  will they boldly go where no man has gone before??  What will they do and how will God overrule the plans the ETs have for them.  This I am anxious to discover in the rest of the series.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Review of Lee Duigon’s Second Bell Mountain Book

The  Bell  Mountain  Saga  Continues:

The Quest  For  The  Secret  Scrolls


A Review of


Lee Duigon The Cellar Beneath The Cellar  (Vallecito, CA:  Storehouse Press, 2010)
                    287 pp   $   ISBN: 978-1-891375-55-2


Reviewer:  Forrest W. Schultz


     The quests of each of the first two books in Lee Duigon's children's fantasy series pertain to legacies of the renowned King Ozias which must be activated by two children, Jack and Ellayne.  Book One ends with the inaugation of a new age produced when Jack fulfills the first quest by ringing the Bell of Ozias on the summit of Bell Mountain.  The second quest is retrieving the secret scrolls of Ozias by descending deep underground into a secret cellar.


     The second book opens with a shocker.  The Temple official Martis, who was sent forth to assassinate the children now becomes their protector and guide in fulfilling the second quest.  This is the first of many plot twists, whose telling could be regarded as a narrative of surprising conversions.  The story is also filled with characters and creatures with strange roles.  Some of these existed in the first book, and some are new ones introduced in Book Two. 


    The narration provides insighful portrayals of the "heathen" tribes in the story which enables us to understand how they think, and to give us some idea of the enemy against which the children and the other heroes are fighting.  And the depiction of the decadence of the offical Temple religion, which was begun in Book One is continued here.  This official religion is analogous to Israel and the Church during their degenerate periods.


     There is no indication of how many more books will be forthcoming.  However many there are,, they will be welcomed if they are as good as the first two.