Tag Archives: Daniel Taylor

‘Do We Not Bleed?’ by Daniel Taylor

Do We Not Bleed?

The joke is that I was the one who was retarded. I’m the one lagging behind. I have a moderately higher IQ than Judy. I don’t have any extra chromosomes. I can tell time. But she knows how to live and I don’t. She knows how to treat people and I don’t. She knows how to be happy and I don’t. She knows how to give and receive love and I sure don’t.

Daniel Taylor’s second Jon Mote mystery continues a superior, unconventional Christian mystery series. In the first installment, Death Comes For the Deconstructionist, Jon, a former English scholar who heard self-destructive voices in his head, solved the murder of his former academic mentor. He also experienced an exorcism – though he probably wouldn’t call it that. It’s true that the voices have stopped and show no signs of returning, but he knows Scripture well enough (as a lapsed Baptist) to know the story of the swept and garnished room.

As Do We Not Bleed? opens, Jon’s mentally retarded sister Judy, who lived with him in the last story, has returned (by her own choice) to New Directions, a group home in Wayzata, Minnesota. Having no better prospects, Jon has taken a job as a counselor there, permitting him to spend time with her. He finds that life in a care facility for Specials (the current favored euphemism for the retarded) has some similarities to life in the English Department. Everyone is obsessed with politically correct language, as if you can change reality by making up new names. But Jon enjoys working with his group, who are colorful individuals and see the world in interesting ways.

Then one day one of the residents, the brain-damaged daughter of a very rich man, disappears. Soon her body is found in a nearby wetland. Neighbors are inclined to blame the group home residents. Tragically, after the woman’s body is found, evidence is discovered pointing to J.P., a member of Jon’s group. Jon finds it impossible to believe that gentle J.P. could have done something like that, but it takes a troubling conversation with an old nun and the innocent (and legally useless) testimony of another resident to persuade Jon to take the risk of confronting the true murderer. Continue reading ‘Do We Not Bleed?’ by Daniel Taylor

‘Death Comes for the Deconstructionist,’ by Daniel Taylor

Death Comes for the Deconstructionist

Dr. Pratt helped me see that I had simply left one fundamentalism for another. I had moved from relying on Holy Writ to relying on Holy Reason, and the difference between the two was far less radical than I had thought. Both assumed a stable, knowable world. Neither, therefore, understood that the god of this world is Proteus, the shape-changer, giver of multiplicity.

Years ago, I read a book called The Myth of Certainty, by Daniel Taylor, who taught at Bethel University (it may have still been Bethel College in those days) in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was a controversial book, attracting critics and defenders. After finishing it I was definitely in the camp of the critics. The message of the book (so far as I understood it) was, “We can’t say that anything is absolutely true. We can only say that it’s true for us, personally.” It seemed to me a direct attack on the philosophy of Francis Schaeffer (in fact a fictionalized Schaeffer surrogate appears in the book). I believed then, and still believe, that if we can’t make a claim to absolute truth, we might as well drop all our church work except for acts of charity.

I didn’t realize until I had downloaded Daniel Taylor’s Death Comes for the Deconstructionist that it was by the same guy. But I figured I’d give it a chance. I’ve enjoyed many novels written by authors with whom I have philosophical disagreements.

I’m glad I did. This is a splendid Christian novel.

Jon Mote’s life is falling apart. Once he was a promising English scholar, but he dropped his doctoral studies when he clashed with his mentor, the distinguished Deconstructionist professor Richard Pratt. Now he lives in squalor aboard a small houseboat on the river in St. Paul. He makes a tenuous living doing research for law firms. His divorce from his wife is nearly final. And, oh yes, he hears voices in his head, goading him to self-harm.

His only anchor is his sister Judy, who lives with him. She is mentally retarded, and serenely clings to all the verities Jon abandoned long ago. She loves Jesus and she loves her brother.

Recently Dr. Pratt was killed, found dead with a stab wound on the sidewalk below his hotel window. Dr. Pratt’s widow calls Jon and asks him to investigate the crime. The police, she believes, are making no progress, and Jon’s familiarity with her husband’s world and professional circle might give him insight. Continue reading ‘Death Comes for the Deconstructionist,’ by Daniel Taylor