Sunday, May 1, 2011

Book Review: The Priest's Graveyard by Ted Dekker

Can one man taking the law into his own hands to rid the world of the vilest offenders truly make a difference in the world? If we who try to live good moral lives judge those who don’t, will the world be a better place? Those are the questions Ted Dekker tackles in his latest novel “The Priest’s Graveyard.”

The story centers around a priest whose conscience is stricken whenever he sees anyone causing the horrible suffering of someone else and not having to pay for it. Danny Hansen is the priest, and he believes that the most moral thing he can do is to end the lives of those who live to cause pain and avoid justice. He’s been doing this a long time, and he does it well. Hardly anyone would question that Danny’s victims would deserve to die if justly tried by a court of law. But where the law fails, Danny steps in to save the day, believing the world is a better place because of it.

Danny’s world is complicated, however, when a young woman named Renee Gilmore becomes obsessed with taking the life of the man who killed her husband. Their paths cross, and Renee convinces Danny to train her to become an expert vigilante just like him. As their lives become interwoven by the desire to see the guilty punished, the line that separates them from the “bad guys” becomes blurred.

Dekker has crafted a story that explores the depths of human depravity. The question switches from “who is guilty?’ to “who is innocent?” While Danny and Renee see what’s wrong with the world outside of them, the beauty of the story comes when they begin to look on the inside, which ultimately leads to the desperate need for someone on the outside who knows no sin and can rescue the guilty from the real enemy that lies inside of themselves.

Dekker creates fascinating characters that are easy to identify with. We share their struggles and understand their need for something beyond themselves to give them hope in the midst of impossible circumstances. Dekker’s story, though gritty, is a story of hope in the midst of darkness. Who is innocent? None of us are.

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