Soul Searching and Spiritual Warfare
by Dr. Belinda Ball

"Yeah, they used to call me Big Mo, but now they just call me motivated. When I found God, I gave Him my all."

Written as a series of poems and vignettes in a range of voices, this book delivers an evangelical Christian message that God loves people regardless of the sins they’ve committed. One story is penned from the perspective of a young woman who presented as male for several years in her teens and had a relationship with another woman until she became convinced that she was merely acting out of grief at her mother’s death. Another is written from the perspective of a woman named Monique, who was once dubbed “the Queen of the casino” until she was moved to give up gambling after a religious awakening. The figure of Satan looms large. At one point, he writes an open letter addressing the people of the world (“My homies!”) and reveals his origin and dark designs. In the vignette that follows, which reads at moments like a modern folktale, he approaches four people—a waitress, a singer, a businessman, and an athlete—and offers them success but at the cost of their souls.

Ball’s novel maintains reader interest for much of its length with its mixture of moral fable, poetry, epistle, and urban legend. The diversity of voices—some saved, others damned—makes the anthology read at times like a more pious version of Carl Orff’s famous cantata, Carmina Burana. There’s a certain sameness in the didactic tone taken by many of the stories. They typically end with a person engaged in vaguely scandalous behavior undergoing a conversion experience that saves them from eternal hell. For this reason, most of the fictional characters portrayed in the vignettes end up sounding like one another, presenting disconcertingly identical perspectives. However, the overarching message that God is merciful and loving is encouraging and well worth repeating.

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