This past month, I had the pleasure of reading a surprisingly good book by Jeff Overstreet. I say surprising because I still (STILL!) have this “Christian Literature – boooo!” attitude, although it is slowly starting to change. Auralia’s Colors is a beautifully woven story about a young orphan who has the ability to fashion items with extraordinary color in a land robbed of pigment. It would probably be ranked as a young adult fantasy, and although it is published by a Christian publisher, it’s rather lacking in “Christianity”… which I loved.
Here’s the premise: The outlaws of Abascar have been cast out of the city and inter the wilderness to work off their debt in a dangerous area. Two of the outlaws discover an orphan girl, and raise her in the outlaw village. She grows up a little wild and free, and has the gift to create beautiful things of color. Abascar’s Queen has outlawed all color, sending the city into a time of “Winter”. All colorful and beautiful things are surrendered to the King to be stored until Abascar’s “Spring”. Auralia (the orphan) tries to find the Keeper through her creations and her travels (who seems to be a spiritual/physical being that is mostly believed in by children, but tossed aside as adults). She eventually is taken before the King, and the story goes on from there (I don’t want to reveal any more!).
What I loved most about this story is that it is a spiritual story that isn’t screaming CHRISTIAN!!! Once you get passed the idea that it is not an allegory, it’s just a fantastic story in a beautifully published book. It has great spiritual elements, and truths that can be applied to Christianity, without being definitively so. And certainly not offensive.
There are some thought that Auralia’s Colors brought up for me (by the way – it is sooooo hard to type this book name for me – I keep going back to change Colours to Colors!). One such thing is how Christianity can often rob us of the “colour” in our lives. I believe in Philipians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”, but I often find that we take it to such extremes.
We often want to disallow ourselves the pleasures of living because we name these things as sin. The Bible is very clear on what sin is (you can find lists here, and here – I am sure there are more lists in the Bible, but I am too lazy to look), yet we seem to need to add more items to the list. We take things that in moderation just aren’t wrong, and make them out to be terrible things. There have been countless examples of this through the ages: showing an ankle, rock and roll music, movies, types of food, alcohol. All of these things, at one time, were considered sinful things. I wonder if we do this to ourselves to give us an incorrect sense of superiority or holiness. “Look at So-and-so, she’s having a glass wine!” “Did you hear? Joe Blow listens to Elvis!” “That woman’s skirt is showing her shoes! She should be ashamed!”
I feel like sometimes we take away the things that could bring flavour to our lives, much as the King outlawed colours in his Kingdom. The colours were outlawed mostly to do with creating a splendor that the other kingdoms would envy, but I think part of the reason that the reason that the Queen requested the colours be withdrawn was to horde them for herself – to make her look and feel better. Just as we like to think that we’re better than someone else because we won’t listen to “that” kind of music, the Queen wanted to think that she was better than the housefolk because she could wear colours in her garments.
Those of you who have read Auralia’s Colors, what do you think? Can you see a corolation between the two topics, or have I completely lost my mind (it’s ok, I can take it!)? Those of you who haven’t read the book – have you experienced a time when you’ve been judged or haved judged others by some perceived standard of “rightness”?