Sunday, November 05, 2017

The Earth Cries Out book review

The Earth Cries Out, by Bonnie Etherington, is a brooding meditation on grief and vulnerability. The story is told through the eyes of Ruth. Her family flee from tragedy in New Zealand, only to find yet more grief in a strange new world, that of West Papua. Coming of age is hard enough in places familiar and families secure, let alone in new worlds, across cultures, amid the armed cross currents that fracture modern day West Papua.

A Scripture, Romans 8:22 is used by way of introduction. Faith is a constant thread, closely examined through the lens of human pain. In the innocent eyes of a child the world is always big, held together by parental security and friendships of circumstances. Ruth’s gaze increases the sensitivity by which we contemplate the cries of creation. Theologically, there are no cliches. Only the reminder, that the cry for justice will never be stilled.

The story of West Papua is more complex than individual narratives of expatriate families such as Ruth’s. Etherington skillfully deals with this complexity through the use of individual vignettes – of plane crashes, Japanese invasion, botanical adventurers, mining – scattered through the narrative. Each stand alone, yet each in their uniqueness narrate the rich complexity of this island nation. In the interruptions, they are a poignant pointer toward beauty and history.

The Earth Cries Out is an absorbing read. Skillfully told, each page is an invitation to care and compassion, for all those we know both near and far.

Posted by steve at 08:41 PM

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