Saturday, August 24, 2019

Readers' Guide to Those Who Dwell Upon The Earth by James D. Sanderson

After I first read the book, People Who Dwell Upon the Earth, I was going to ask the author to write an article to tell us why he had written the book. After I had looked through the Reader's Guide, I asked if I could just share the entire chapter, "A Novel of Social Protest." For me, this answered the question of "Why?"


There is really no understanding the poor, the homeless, the disenfranchised of American life. On the one hand there would seem to be enough for everyone – enough opportunity for all – we would only need to divvy it up properly. Because of this, there is a great distance between the wealthy, who believe everyone should work hard and pull themselves up by their bootstraps, and those who ‘are’ working hard, often two or three jobs between a husband and
wife, and yet who are unable to ever pull themselves up. Medical bills wipe out their meager savings. The car breaks down. They get stopped without insurance because they cannot afford insurance this month. They have to choose between light, heat, rent, food and a hundred other things that are getting more expensive all the time.
The distance – the lack of understanding - exists on the other side too. On the side of the working poor. They can’t see how they will ever get ahead. They know the game is rigged against them but they can’t figure out how. When the rent is due they are just as likely to buy a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of wine, or a big old birthday cake for their precious six-year old daughter. Their frustration with ‘the system’ grows until it erupts in anger – often directed at
each other – or ends in defeat and despair.
No one should have to live this way – too rich or too poor, because either extreme is bad for the soul. Yet a point seems to have been reached that leads to greater control of markets by corporations, by wealthy investors, by government cronies. By the capital class. While the working class is squeezed more and more and is in jeopardy of being crushed out of existence.
When the developers and speculators can reap obscene profits, while the butcher at the local grocery store cannot pay his bills, something has gone terribly wrong.
No one seems to know what to do.
‘Those Who Dwell Upon The Earth’ is a novel of social protest much like John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’. One of the primary criticisms of ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ was that it presented a philosophy of communism. 
It is that same criticism that is likely to be leveled against ‘Those Who Dwell Upon The Earth’. When, in the extreme case of corruption, violence,
and oppression in a government, the common people are forced to rise up and take control of the mechanisms of power, some form of communism may be the result.
There are several differences between a communist state and a church community. First and foremost is belief in God and the Bible, and a commitment to following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. There is a huge difference between a totalitarian police state and a loving and benevolent Father God.
The second difference is found in the voluntary nature of giving and sharing in the Christian community as found in Acts 2:42-48, and other places, and the mandatory ‘sharing’ that is found in a communist system. Being forced to contribute does not lead to loving care for one another. It leads to deceit and fear and anger.
The third difference between a communist state and a Christian community is the general sense of wanting to comply with God’s will, as opposed to being forced to comply with a central committee or power, or a single dictator. There are many other differences as well.
‘Those Who Dwell Upon The Earth’ anticipates what it would look like for a small Christian disciple group to act and lead in a world that has suffered the great agony of financial collapse, nuclear bombardment, and another world war. How would their way be different from the way of the world?
What we see in this novel is not a turn toward communism, but a way for people to move forward in the loving embrace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is truly a different kind of Christian fiction. It is literary, intelligent, action-packed – being thrust forward by a sense of
community movement – and very important for today’s Christian trying to ‘make it’ in the real world.

A Readers Guide - a Study Guide means that you wish to spend more time with understanding about the book, Those Who Dwell Upon the Earth, by James D. Sanderson. And this guide is one of the best I've seen.

Not only does it contain a synopsis, but it reviews each and every chapter telling you what is covered during that part of the story. Reading the study guide, I realized just how much is covered in the book. Of course, just too much to mention in my review, but it is also a simple way of searching for and finding a specific chapter which you might want to review or share with others.

For instance, I realized that I had not one mention about a most significant thrust of the book--that of nonviolence. For someone who totally agrees with the need to move in that direction, I was gratified to see and read how to deal with the elimination of guns in today's world. Even in the book, it was not successful in action scenes. But was quickly reviewed and taught further in the church, classes, and more

Research of related books were reviewed to illustrate the difference between other similar books. Utopia versus Dystopia, noting that this book was written with a utopia futuristic life. While, at the same time, providing a little about each of the references so that further discussion can happen.

Yes, the guide is for both individual as well as group discussion. I suggest the latter since there is so much to explore and think about...what you might want to do to start living a nonviolent life and one that follows the teachings of Christ. Particularly the Sermon on the Mount.

One of the questions covered is one that haunts us these days. Can we, as Christians, really follow the words of Jesus?

There is also a list of ten questions for discussion or further individual study. Style of writing and format is also discussed so that the book itself can be understood from all angles.

Whether you use the Readers Guide is your choice... You may decide to read the novel and allow it to speak to you, which is wonderful. But if you are a member of a book club, or enjoy further study of the scripture behind a book, then I highly recommend this one for your consideration!


May This Book, and Guide, Fill you with Peace and Faith...

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