THEOLOGY OF THE CROSS

Posted: July 18, 2022 in World On The Edge

This is a review of my short story collection, Birds of a Feather, in which a version of Shooting at Heaven’s Gate first appeared. The insightful and appreciated words are those of Jim Hale, Goodreads Southern Literary Trail, and is one of my favorite reviews.

“Authors who take up the task writing fiction from a Christian perspective ultimately reveal whether they are theologians of glory or theologians of the cross. In this fine story collection, Kaye Park Hinckley leaves no doubt that she is a theologian of the cross. You won’t find this kind of hard-core realism in the “Christian Fiction” section at Barnes and Noble where theologians of glory are cashing in big these days.

Here are dope fiend lunatics, adulterers, and drunks, along with hard working, sympathetic, normal folks – typically of the suffering spouse model. Theologians of glory take one look at these scenarios and quickly identify who gets the glory and who goes to hell. The problem with the standard Christian fiction fare is that the derelicts have a conversion experience and then things always get better. But in these pages, it’s not so simple.

In Shooting at Heaven’s Gate, a spiraling out of control college professor is haunted by the voice of his Pentecostal preacher grandfather who warns a grief stricken adolescent that he must repent or face God’s wrath. But he also remembers the words of a kind Priest who had told him that God would continue to love him despite his actions. His actions as an adult become front-page news in the same way regular readers of Southern grit lit are accustomed.

We have a serious sinner on our hands, but we also learn that he suffered horrible tragedy at a tender age and a brain injury to boot. As far as we know, he never properly repented, but his actions put the words of the Priest to the test in a big way, forcing us to ask whether the promise made by the Priest concerning God’s mercy was just cheap sentiment. But this Priest is a theologian of the cross, and the bloody mess of the cross is the only thing that will resolve this mess.

I’ve come to appreciate how messy life is, and how wrong it is to ever produce a work of art that implies otherwise, especially if it’s that thing called Christian fiction.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher after agreeing to write a review, which I am happy to do. Birds of a Feather is rarity in the world of Christian Fiction.” – Jim Hale

The following is part of another of my favorite reviews pertaining to Shooting at Heaven’s Gate and the other stories in Birds of a Feather, and is from Angelus News.

“Hinckley’s fallen humans are driving home. Many of them literally. All of them figuratively. Though some at the close of the story take “a procedural deviation from integrity,” we find ourselves hoping, alongside the practicing Catholic in the family, that they make it home.

Hinckley’s characters are alive. Their flaws and struggles create dramatic tension and lead us to reckon with the sinner and saint within. Throughout there is an uncanny presence of the Communion of Saints.

Each struggling character evokes a feeling of care within us. I will buy this book for all in my life on this side of the veil. It will be loved especially by the fiction aficionados and all the birds who have flown askew, losing the flock. “As one might lift a tiny, injured bird falling from a tree…”

As rare as the saints among us, a good short story is hard to find. But Hinckley’s collection, Birds of a Feather, remains with us with the power of an epic novel.”

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