This is a most atypical Christian book. It is a hardback; it is dimensionally oversized; it consists of just 67 pages; it is printed on high-quality paper; its pages are half text and half ‘arty’ full-colour pictures and it costs only £9.99. This is almost revolutionary – what’s the idea?
The idea is made candidly clear in the Introduction. ‘This short book takes a fictional scenario of a preborn child, roughly twenty weeks old, who writes letters to her mother. She puts forth a case for why her mother should decide to keep her and raise her instead of having an abortion.’ And, ‘While this book is for everyone, it is specifically aimed to give expecting mothers who are considering an abortion, something to think about before they decide to make a choice to end another person’s life.’ In other words, it’s a pro-life infomercial. Yes, but it is also so much more.
The book is produced primarily for the North American market – there are the middle-class aspirations of college education, US spellings, turns of phrase and Harvard commas. That’s OK, after all, the author is the pastor of Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Vancouver, Canada.
The content and style
In all there are fifteen letters – thirteen to Dear Mommy, one to Dear Daddy and one from Mommy. While the ‘talking letter’ is not an unknown literary genre, it is sufficiently novel in this context to work well. It is certainly thought provoking – job done!
Of course, the reality of letters from an erudite 20-week-old unborn Zoe is far-fetched, but they do sustain an air of plausibility, mostly. After all, from earliest days, there are biochemical and neural communications between a mother and her unborn child. At times, Zoe writes sweetly and persuasively, pleading for her life. She also writes theologically about the ‘message of love and forgiveness that comes from trusting Jesus.’ And she writes knowledgeably telling how the abortionist uses laminaria and a sopher clamp. Now and again, the flow of the story is disrupted by a raw statement, such as, ‘Moral relativism is a dangerous option.’ Womb-bound Zoe, you are way ahead of your grown-up readers!
The style is bright and informative and creative. It is didactic and polemic and humorous and apologetic – it is really a big, pro-life Christian tract. The watchful reader will be waiting for the first appearance of the two key words, namely, abortion and God. They come eventually on p. 31 and p. 41 respectively. There are other pivotal moments. The book regularly flips from the light hearted to the deadly serious, sometimes with sprinkles of psychobabble and even a dash of syrup. Now and again I got lost. Try this from p. 15, ‘One of the wonderful things about being a human is our ability to make rational free decisions, especially those decisions for the good of others.’ The reader is then encouraged to think of Hitler and Denis Mukwege. What?
And there are quotations from a stream of others, like Hosea Ballou, Ann B Ross, Jim Croce, Edward-Edik Tonkonogi, Helga Weiss, Ben Folds and Flipsyde (no, me neither). Thankfully, Mark Twain, Eminem and Sinead O’Connor are referenced, plus plain old Alexis and Nick, aka Mommy and Daddy and obviously the letter writer, young Zoe.
Oh dear, now comes the spoiler alert. There is no happy ending. Zoe’s final and most poignant letter is short, ‘Dear Mommy, I love you. For me the beginning has turned out to be the end. I love you; I wished you loved me too. Zoe.’ Mom pens the last letter of the book, which is to Zoe. It is written ten years after her abortion of Zoe. How mother misses daughter! Will they ever meet? Perhaps. It closes, ‘That is my hope – a hope based on the gracious nature of God who gave His Son a ransom for many, including Nick and me. Love, Mommy.’
Abortion is a wretched reality, everyday and everywhere. How do we shift people’s thinking from being carelessly pro-choice to rationally pro-life? We come by different routes. Some come through biological truth, or discussion, or philosophy, or talks, or theology, or pictures, or books like this one. This book will prod your brain, whether you are pregnant or not, as it poses some tough and inconvenient questions. It will also tug at your heart.
It was always Mark
Jones’ purpose to ‘… give you, the reader, much to think
he certainly does that with this innovative project. The bottom
line of every pro-life endeavour must always be, how
many unborn children did it save? This book
should make that difference. It should also
make many glad. May
it be so.