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Cult

Title: Cult  | Author: J. L. Pond

Buy the same copy we read, here on Amazon

Parents, I know this is a teen fiction, but I actually strongly recommend this to you! I can’t think of a better way to prep yourself than to read this book and figure out your responses for when your teen asks life’s challenging questions.

The story alone is worth the read. It’s raw, moving, and at times, eerily relatable. It quickly and easily sucks you in and the characters are unwittingly likeable. I found myself emotionally affected and teary-eyed a few times, both for sad and happy moments. In those instances, it could be said that it’s the Christian version of A Fault in Our Stars. Both have a similar style, characters that sweep you up into their concerns, and a raw exposure to what our teens are struggling with today. But where A Fault only exposes the issues, this book seeks to enlighten readers to the fact that there are answers to the universal questions.

And Christian teens are asking. Yes, this includes conservative Christians, the youth pastor’s favs and homeschooled teens too. How do I know this? Because the author was a homeschooled Christian. So was I. (See the author’s video). And even though we didn’t externally respond as the fictional characters in this book, we both internally struggled with a few issues as we grew older and tried to make our faith work with reality.

Here’s what the fictitious characters wondered: How do you deal with an embarrassing, unrelenting sin? You know you’re not supposed to sin, but it just doesn’t seem like there’s a way to stop, and risking exposure to ask a parent or pastor doesn’t seem worth it if there’s no victory. What will they think of their “good Christian” kid? How do you cope with the death of a loved one? You know you’re supposed to have faith, “that God works in mysterious ways” and that “He has a plan in all of this.” But what if you aren’t buying it? What if the answers you’re receiving just bring up more questions? Like whether God is really good? You don’t even want to admit to yourself that you’re even thinking it, and if your parent or pastor knows, they’ll be hurt for sure.

They’re tough questions. But they’re good ones. And often necessary to a working faith.

Probably the biggest takeaways that I have for parents are these: Open communication is crucial. Not taking questions as a personal afront to you or your beliefs is crucial. Knowing what you believe and being ready with an answer, in season and out of season, is crucial.

Communication is so key; and we hear that all of the time. But this book paints a vivid, painful rendering of what happens when there is a breakdown in communication. And it was an incredibly harrowing scene to watch as the parent/child relationship between Rudy and his father tore apart! It didn’t sound like they had ever been especially close, which is a good reminder that a positive history of good communication has to be there before the more challenging questions hit the fan. It was also made painstakingly clear that it’s hard to ask someone a question when they take it as a personal afront. Getting uptight is a vibe that will quickly shut any open doors. Instead, it should be encouraging that they’re asking questions, and coming to you, the parent, to get the answers they’re so desperately yearning for.

Which leads to my third takeaway. Knowing, really and truly knowing what you believe is paramount. Because let’s face it, pat answers and Christianese responses aren’t satisfying. Teens want a real and detailed explanation that they can sink their teeth into and stand on solidly. A one sentence response like “God’s ways are higher than our ways” won’t do. God didn’t say that we have to be “approved workman,” “ready in season and out of season [to] convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” for nothing. There’s a reason he explained it this way. It’s going to take some work; some digging and searching the Scriptures. But the reward of having an answer that can stand the test of all scrutiny is worth it. So is having the soul of your teen standing stalwartly in God.

This is why I highly recommend this book for parents. And especially if your child isn’t a teen yet. Prepare now, practice listening patiently and seek for the biblically and logically grounded answers you’ll need to be fully equipped. You and your teen’s story doesn’t have to take the long way around to a happy ending like the characters in this book.

And it is a wonderfully happy ending!

Ages: 16+

Overview:

Nathan “Rudy” Rudolph has gone to church for as long as he can remember, but as his senior year of high school begins, his ongoing battle with lust begins to raise challenging questions about God’s expectations and the very nature of salvation.

When Amy Davidson arrives at Knight’s Day Academy following a family tragedy, Rudy feels an instant connection. As they strike up a friendship that quickly becomes something more, Amy surprises Rudy by revealing troubling questions of her own.

Together they embark on a journey to answer the questions they can’t ask anywhere else. Who is God really? What does he want from them? And why should they want anything to do with him?

Cleanliness:

Mild Obscenities & Substitutions – 32 Incidents: heck, crap, crap-hole, freaking, screwed, screwing, screw-up, darn

Religious Profanities – 3 Incidents: Oh Lord, Gee, gosh

Romance: There is hand-holding and some kissing (not detailed). A boy and girl are in a house alone together – the boy knows he shouldn’t be there but pushes the thought away. A teen struggles with porn; this is mentioned throughout the book. Nothing he sees is ever described; you just know he has a problem and that he has gotten into more hardcore stuff because a friend makes it easily available to him.  WARNING: Parents, if you do not have a strong safeguard in play for the computer and internet, your teen will learn how to get passed it from this book! The fictional character receives SD cards from his friend and plays them using a card reader – this is not traceable. You will also learn that there are internet browsers with Stealth Mode so that anything viewed online cannot be traced – Stealth Mode will not keep a history of viewed pages!

Conversation Topics: A girl is known to sneak into the kitchen cupboards to take a drink of vodka every now and then to “take the edge off.” She offers her boyfriend some who is at first reluctant. They know the Bible says that drunkenness is condemned but figure a swig now and then can’t hurt. Then the girl gets really drunk. The boy does too in a later scene. You’ll want to follow this theme up with your teen.

As the teens in this book encounter difficult life issues and struggle with faith, doubt and sin, they turn to the Bible to seek answers to their questions. Such questions as: “If God is good and sovereign, then how can evil exist? If He causes evil, can He truly be good? How does election work? Can people choose their eternal destiny, or does God choose for them? How can a good God allow all of the pain and suffering we see in the world? What should life look like for a believer, specifically in regard to a relationship with God and the battle with sin?”

Luisa
Luisa
Hi! I’m Luisa and I’ve always been an avid reader and lover of books. Well… at least that is to say since I was about eight years old when my mom encouraged my sister and I to do a summer reading challenge. After that, I was always getting in trouble for not doing my chores, my school, or staying in the bathroom too long haha, because of a book! Read more about me here