"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Death and Life of Gabriel Philips by Stephen Baldwin and Mark Tabb

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips

FaithWords (November 5, 2008)


Stephen Baldwin
Mark Tabb

I read everything aloud to my wife Nancy. First, my dyslexia slows my reading rate to not much over oral reading speed, so I may as well share great books with her. Second, her impared vision makes reading difficult and laborious for her, so reading aloud is a win-win for us. When I first opened The Death and Life of Gabriel Philips, I stuttered quite a bit, unable to vocalize the coarse language Baldwin included in the dialog. How could I, a born-again, Bible toting, church-going "man-of-God" pronounce the "S" word and the "D" word? I wondered what constituted "Christian" fiction about this book. Eventually I saw the CFBA administration's apologetic, strong language warnings. Yes it was a bit over the top for a bunch of Sunday school oriented, CBA writers and readers, but something entirely unexpected happened. I loved the book!
        Ultimately, it occurred to me that most of us weren't hatched as virgin-mouthed Christians. Some of the protagonist's language hearkened back to my B. C. and "babe-in-Christ" days. Saved as an adult who never believed in denying myself any of life's fleshly pleasures, this Blogger brought a rash of bad habits, verbal and otherwise, into his new life in Christ. Problem is, Yeshua only guaranteed His precious blood to cover the penalty of sin, not its habit. "Bummer!" I said on many blue-aired occasions, but usually not with that word. Bummer, yes, but not completely. The last outcome I expected was that this life-long struggle would be the best thing that could have happened to me.
        Enough with the language, already. Gabriel Philips haunted the whole book, and I wanted to know the boy as badly as Officer Meyers had wanted to know him. But come to think of it, I've already met him, under a variety different names. And I've loved his every incarnation.
        I used the word haunted. Even now, days after completing Baldwin's novel, John Philips' spirituality still haunts me; an authentic, but rare, spirituality, while early in the story, I had lined up with his accusers. A thought interrupted my self-righteousness: Would I have the strength to remain silent under such assailments? To pray for those persecuting me? To maintain a sweet spirit, though the target of unrelenting slander?
        The language was unregenerate, but so was Officer Meyers. Who would expect him to communicate like a Baptist on Sunday morning? The Death and Life of Gabriel Philips is not a book that welcomes pop judgments. And learning to defeat that habit is a great part of what the Way is all about.


STEPHEN BALDWIN - actor, family man, born-again Christian - makes his home in upstate New York with his wife and two young daughters.

Equally adept at drama and comedy, Baldwin has appeared in over 60 films and been featured on such top-rated television shows as Fear Factor and Celebrity Mole. He has his own production company that is developing projects for television and the big screen. These days, however, his role as director, co-producer and host of Livin' It - a cutting-edge skate video is bringing out his white hot passion for evangelism.

Writer and communicator Mark Tabb calls himself an “internationally unknown author.” Although his books have been published around the world, he is best known for his collaborative works. His 2008 release, “Mistaken Identity”, written with the Van Ryn and Cerak families, hit number one on the New York Times bestseller list for two weeks, and remained on the list for over two months. He and actor Stephen Baldwin teamed up on their 2005 New York Times bestseller, “The Unusual Suspect,” and with their first work of fiction, “The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips,”


Even years of experience haven't prepared Officer Andy Myers for this case---

When Officer Andy Myers met Loraine Phillips, he had no interest in her son. And he certainly never dreamed he'd respond to a call, finding that same boy in a pool of blood. Even more alarming was the father standing watch over his son's body. Myers had never seen a man respond to death-particularly the death of a child-in such a way. When the father is charged with murder and sentenced to death, he chooses not to fight but embrace it as God's will. Myers becomes consumed with curiosity for these strange beliefs. What follows is the story of the bond these two men share as they come to terms with the tragedy and the difficult choices each one must make.

If you would like to read the first chapter of The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips, go HERE

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