If like me you enjoy reading, then be warned – you will get through this book far too quickly!
Anybody who has come across Michael Sadgrove's previous titles, or indeed his blog, knows he has a gift for crafting eloquent, flowing work, and Lost Sons is no exception.
The book focuses on male characters of the first two books of the Pentateuch, exploring the relationships between fathers and sons (and in some cases, brothers) and skilfully using them to give an insight into the passion of Jesus.
Each section has a theme related to the life of the man in question – The Cursed Son: Abel, The Bound Son: Ishmael, etc. – and, in their own right, each gives a wonderful insight into the context of the tale in the Hebrew Bible, and leads the reader to ponder what meaning the stories were intended to convey to their original audience. More than this, however, Michael skilfully draws out the parallels between each of these lost sons and the lost Son, Jesus himself. “Was there ever a child as lost as Jesus?” he asks.
As I cantered through this book, I found at every turn a phrase, a reflection, that struck chords with my experiences of manhood, of sonship, and of being a father. Some ran deeper than others, but in each was the realisation that, as the incarnate Son of God, Jesus had experienced these things too – and moreover had taken them to the cross with him on my behalf. This, for me, is one of the subtle keys to this book, gently suggested in the first introductory chapter:
“The child is a symbol and metaphor of the self. The lost child in story, poetry and art is
often an image of a lost part of ourselves.”
The chance to view not just these biblical characters but also the architect of our faith through the lens of 'lostness,' to be almost given permission to explore feelings and emotions attached to times of weakness, abandonment, heartbreak – those little-boy moments when we just want to cry out, the desperate-dad moments when all we want is to fix it but need to let go – helped me reflect on these key male relationships.
particularly in the “Lost & Found” nature of Jesus in the final chapter.
This book will stand much re-reading and, despite Michael deliberately avoiding psychoanalysing the stories in question, the conclusions he draws from the text give an excellent framework for reflective thinking about our own condition as lost sons (and daughters) seeking to deepen, strengthen or re-establish a relationship with our eternal Father. I can also see the book making a very effective lent course for a men's group (he said with half an eye on next year).
Overall a well constructed, beautifully written and highly accessible book which I recommend most highly to all.
(For a peep inside, look it up on Amazon)