A scholarly treatise on Lent and the nature of Christian redemption.
Lent, stretching for the roughly six weeks from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday and commemorating the interval between the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and his resurrection from the dead, is the focal point of Lopes’ inspirational debut. But the book’s title is happily misleading. What Lopes offers here goes far deeper than “reflections”: he opens his book with a searching and quite scholarly history of the concept of sin in the Judeo-Christian tradition and of Lent itself, which has developed into a period of serious reflection and the voluntary chastisement of appetites and excesses. Lopes considers these topics across a broad range of ancient cultures and mythologies and only gradually shifts his emphasis from scholarship to salvation. His examination of the meaning and mechanics of Christian salvation comes to dominate the second half of the book (ushered in with a calamitous typo of “The Dessert” for “The Desert”), in which Lopes talks about the deeper implications of the Lenten season and each individual’s process toward divine reconciliation—what he paints as a far more meaningful process than the typical ways in which Lent is observed. “To travel the road in front of us,” Lopes says, “is to do more than give up chocolate for Lent or to attend daily Mass, even though the latter is certainly appropriate.” Instead, he concentrates on the largest possible questions: Where am I? What am I? Who am I? Why am I? Throughout these latter sections he stresses the Lenten spirit of self-accountability, reminding readers that “Your journey to knowing who you are is ongoing. You are not today the person you will be tomorrow.” Only when you take responsibility for your own sins, Lopes insists, will you begin your journey. His book concludes with a scene-by-scene breakdown of the salvation themes of the New Testament that’s both erudite and vividly dramatic.
A scholarly yet intensely personal evaluation of Christian salvation.