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    THIS PRESENT DARKNESS by Frank E. Peretti

    Crossway Books, 1986

    Marshal Hogan has retired from the hustle of the NEW YORK TIMES to run a small newspaper in little Ashton. He plans on reporting on the local garden club and getting re-acquainted with his college-age daughter. Marshal's plans are disrupted when his star reporter is arrested, supposedly for prostitution but really a set-up. Something is going on in Ashton. Marshall has been in the news business too long not to smell a story and this story stinks.

    Hank Busche is pastor for the Ashton Community Church. His congregation is split over his decision to ban a member for adultery, but Hank has read his Ten Commandments and knows that condoning adultery is a dangerous step on the road to hell. Somehow, he must survive the threat to his position, hold his own against the demons set to take over Ashton, and revitalize the Christian community of this town.

    Frank E. Peretti has developed an intriguing magic system. Constant prayer by "the Remnant," the group of faithful in the community, reinforced by directed prayers from nearby towns and cities, both confuses the demons and lends power to the angels sent to rescue the town from its demonic assailants. The actual battle is carried out between angels and demons, but humans have the important function of continual prayer to play. Peretti makes no bones about the enemies. Fortune telling, churches that talk more about mercy than the eternal war between good and evil, yoga breathing exercises, anything new age, and repressed memories are all tools of the devil.

    Despite a linear plot and unsubtle character development (Marshal accepts Jesus, Hank doesn't change at all), the descriptions of the demons and angels, their battles, and the intriguing concept of "prayer cover" make THIS PRESENT DARKNESS an interesting read. Those who accept "new age" teachings will find the novel's treatment of their beliefs to be amusing. Those who hew to an old-testament centered literal interpretation of the Bible will enjoy the novel's affirmation of their faith.

    Two Stars

    Purchase THIS PRESENT DARKNESS/PIERCING THE DARKNESS at a 20% discount (available in paperback).

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