LCMS pastor, action hero

I haven’t read it, but I’ve got to.   Novelist Ray Keating has started a spy, adventure, thriller series whose hero is a pastor in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  From a review by Russell E. Saltzman:

Here is a fun adventure romp, a first novel by former Newsday columnist Ray Keating. Stephen Grant is an ex-CIA agent with notches on his pistol who, with a little bit of angst, turns his back on his secret life and becomes, get this, a pastor of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

We first meet Grant as he dispatches an opposing agent within the nave of a French Catholic church (because for discreet meetings between rival spies, the empty churches of Europe are ideal). Grant next shows up as pastor of St. Mary’s Lutheran Church on the east end of Long Island, where he slays an eco-terrorist who is trying to shoot choir members at rehearsal (not, from the description in the novel, that choir’s rendering of A Mighty Fortress didn’t give the effort some merit).

Well, after that, one thing sort of leads to another thing and pretty soon Pr. Grant saves the life of Pope Augustine from a knife-wielding priest shouting “apostate,” shares “decaffeinated black currant tea” thereafter with same (um, the pope, not the assailant), and at different stops along the way vanquishes liberal theologians, spars with arrogant media-types, and incidentally helps the Vatican advance an ecumenical initiative called “A Public Mission of Mere Christianity.” St. Mary’s, by the way, seems to be a parish that functions well in the pastor’s absence.

via Heroic LCMS Pastor Saves Pope » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

I’m buying it.  How can I not?  You buy it too and we’ll discuss it on this blog.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Mark Henderson

    I’ve heard of “super-pastors” before, but this is pushing it.
    If the first rule of good fiction is that the author persaudes us to suspend our disbelief, Ray Keating has a ways to go with me. But maybe I’ll at least give him a chance – it’s a while since I read a contemporary novel.

  • http://acroamaticus.blogspot.com Mark Henderson

    I’ve heard of “super-pastors” before, but this is pushing it.
    If the first rule of good fiction is that the author persaudes us to suspend our disbelief, Ray Keating has a ways to go with me. But maybe I’ll at least give him a chance – it’s a while since I read a contemporary novel.

  • Carl Vehse

    The Amazon link has Missouri Synod 3VP Paul L. Maier, author of A Skeleton in God’s Closet commenting, “Holy Scripture and unholy gun play in the same novel? Exactly – and you’ll love the combination! Warrior Monk offers a riveting mix of action, romance, and intrigue, served up by a master wordsmith. Keating’s Pastor Stephen Grant manages to wield both Bible and bullets with equal expertise. Grant is clearly in control whether in or out of the pulpit.”

    Elsewhere Keating has said, “My hope is that this is an entertaining, compelling story of murder, action, humor and romance, while touching on various religious, moral and political topics important to the twenty-first century, including conservatives versus liberals in Christianity, terrorism, torture, extreme environmentalism, ecumenism, and the challenges of relativism, militant secularism, and radical Islam [the liberal phrase for 'Islam'].”

    …pretty soon Pr. Grant saves the life of Pope Augustine from a knife-wielding priest…

    Maybe one of these days we can have a story about a Lutheran pastor who, sometimes disguised as a mercenary, exposes the pope as the Antichrist. Oh, wait a minute… we do. It’s called the Reformation.

  • Carl Vehse

    The Amazon link has Missouri Synod 3VP Paul L. Maier, author of A Skeleton in God’s Closet commenting, “Holy Scripture and unholy gun play in the same novel? Exactly – and you’ll love the combination! Warrior Monk offers a riveting mix of action, romance, and intrigue, served up by a master wordsmith. Keating’s Pastor Stephen Grant manages to wield both Bible and bullets with equal expertise. Grant is clearly in control whether in or out of the pulpit.”

    Elsewhere Keating has said, “My hope is that this is an entertaining, compelling story of murder, action, humor and romance, while touching on various religious, moral and political topics important to the twenty-first century, including conservatives versus liberals in Christianity, terrorism, torture, extreme environmentalism, ecumenism, and the challenges of relativism, militant secularism, and radical Islam [the liberal phrase for 'Islam'].”

    …pretty soon Pr. Grant saves the life of Pope Augustine from a knife-wielding priest…

    Maybe one of these days we can have a story about a Lutheran pastor who, sometimes disguised as a mercenary, exposes the pope as the Antichrist. Oh, wait a minute… we do. It’s called the Reformation.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Ok, this sounds like Chuck for pastors, I’m in. Hey speaking of pastors playing hero (in the fictional sense), check out this article about Rev. Jonathon Fisk. http://wow.joystiq.com/2010/09/21/15-minutes-of-fame-when-wow-meets-real-world-religion/
    I love his witness, and it is nice to know I am not alone.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Ok, this sounds like Chuck for pastors, I’m in. Hey speaking of pastors playing hero (in the fictional sense), check out this article about Rev. Jonathon Fisk. http://wow.joystiq.com/2010/09/21/15-minutes-of-fame-when-wow-meets-real-world-religion/
    I love his witness, and it is nice to know I am not alone.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Suh. Weet. Wish I wrote it…

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Suh. Weet. Wish I wrote it…

  • kerner

    Did the fictional Pr. Grant go to our seminary at Ft. Wayne? If he did, could we call him “Indiana”? ;)

  • kerner

    Did the fictional Pr. Grant go to our seminary at Ft. Wayne? If he did, could we call him “Indiana”? ;)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Kerner: or “Mad Anthony.”

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Kerner: or “Mad Anthony.”

  • Carl Vehse

    Of course, on a blog called Cranach, one should post a portrait of the original Lutheran “warrior monk,” Junker-Jörg.

  • Carl Vehse

    Of course, on a blog called Cranach, one should post a portrait of the original Lutheran “warrior monk,” Junker-Jörg.

  • MVMoss

    Kerner, I think he went SMP. ;-)

    Back in college I put together a quasi-comic book series on a Lutheran Super-hero named Doctrine Dude. He saved the “Christ” in Christmas from Militant Atheist Man and then chained the 10-horned Papal Bull with the Word of God.
    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2005197&id=146000114&l=46446a2d12

  • MVMoss

    Kerner, I think he went SMP. ;-)

    Back in college I put together a quasi-comic book series on a Lutheran Super-hero named Doctrine Dude. He saved the “Christ” in Christmas from Militant Atheist Man and then chained the 10-horned Papal Bull with the Word of God.
    http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2005197&id=146000114&l=46446a2d12

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So my question for Dr. Veith is which hat he’ll be wearing while reading this book: that of vocation-hawk, or that of fan of Lutheranism in pop culture?

    Given the review line that “St. Mary’s, by the way, seems to be a parish that functions well in the pastor’s absence,” it seems you might come up with a different review, based on which hat you’re wearing.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    So my question for Dr. Veith is which hat he’ll be wearing while reading this book: that of vocation-hawk, or that of fan of Lutheranism in pop culture?

    Given the review line that “St. Mary’s, by the way, seems to be a parish that functions well in the pastor’s absence,” it seems you might come up with a different review, based on which hat you’re wearing.

  • Porcell

    I’m buying it too. An LCMS pastor with a secret life as a lethal spook shoud be a delight. My hope is that Pastor Grant will be the equal of Chesterton’s Father Brown or McInerny’s Father Dowling in this holy detective and spook genre.

    Bror should try this with a Scandinavian descended LCMS pastor detective or spook who brings to justice Mormon pietist bad guys, though, living in Utah with Mormons perfectly capable of hard revenge, he would need to use a pseudonym.

  • Porcell

    I’m buying it too. An LCMS pastor with a secret life as a lethal spook shoud be a delight. My hope is that Pastor Grant will be the equal of Chesterton’s Father Brown or McInerny’s Father Dowling in this holy detective and spook genre.

    Bror should try this with a Scandinavian descended LCMS pastor detective or spook who brings to justice Mormon pietist bad guys, though, living in Utah with Mormons perfectly capable of hard revenge, he would need to use a pseudonym.

  • James Hageman

    Of course, this was all about me, Walter Mitty.

  • James Hageman

    Of course, this was all about me, Walter Mitty.

  • http://RoseFremer@yahoo.com Rose

    Carl,
    In which collection is the Junker-Jorg?
    I wonder why the left thumb is so unusual.

  • http://RoseFremer@yahoo.com Rose

    Carl,
    In which collection is the Junker-Jorg?
    I wonder why the left thumb is so unusual.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Funny,
    I have thought of it Porcell, problem is I can’t right fiction to compete with the truth out here.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Funny,
    I have thought of it Porcell, problem is I can’t right fiction to compete with the truth out here.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “fiction to compete with the truth out here.”

    LOL ;-)

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “fiction to compete with the truth out here.”

    LOL ;-)

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    As a Christian author myself, I’m very intrigued and would be interested in seeing something like this.

    One of the things that I have to remind people who read fiction is that authors (and Christian authors in particular) will put characters in situations or introduce plots involving things that are not Christian, or even anti-Christian, but that should not be taken to mean that the author is endorsing or condoning such situations. For example, if you write a short story that involves an extramarital affair as a plot piece, it needs to be done in a way that does not condone the affair (as I’ve seen in numerous other pieces by non-Christian authors). At the same time, if you’re writing it from the perspective of a character involved in the affair, you have to make it clear that there is a degree of appeal to the character (in good taste, of course). This is a balancing act, because people really do sin in real life, and yet that sin needs to be exploited in such a way as to cast it in a negative light, even if the cast is only a subtle one.

    It’s the same with violence and action: it does happen, and can be used effectively in a story. But the trick is to do it in a tasteful way, and ultimately in a way that brings glory to God.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    As a Christian author myself, I’m very intrigued and would be interested in seeing something like this.

    One of the things that I have to remind people who read fiction is that authors (and Christian authors in particular) will put characters in situations or introduce plots involving things that are not Christian, or even anti-Christian, but that should not be taken to mean that the author is endorsing or condoning such situations. For example, if you write a short story that involves an extramarital affair as a plot piece, it needs to be done in a way that does not condone the affair (as I’ve seen in numerous other pieces by non-Christian authors). At the same time, if you’re writing it from the perspective of a character involved in the affair, you have to make it clear that there is a degree of appeal to the character (in good taste, of course). This is a balancing act, because people really do sin in real life, and yet that sin needs to be exploited in such a way as to cast it in a negative light, even if the cast is only a subtle one.

    It’s the same with violence and action: it does happen, and can be used effectively in a story. But the trick is to do it in a tasteful way, and ultimately in a way that brings glory to God.

  • Eddie Kolodziej

    I just spent two late nights reading Warrior Monk. I had lots of trouble putting it down. As an LCMS member I was awe-struck at the author’s recounting of Pastor Grant’s role as a faithful shepherd moving from Matins to hospital visits to Vespers at St Mary’s, quoting Collects and prayers from the Lutheran Service Book, and attending church council meetings. Then before we know it he dashes off to a formal dinner party with politicians and other liberals which results in Pastor Grant having to discuss “just war theory” and water-boarding of terrorists. On another occasion he mingles with Catholic bishops and Cardinals where he gets to explain who the real Lutherans are; for instance, he discusses the shortcomings of the ELCA and the orthodoxy of the LCMS – not to mention getting to make the point in a polite way that LCMS Christians are “truly catholic.” As a member of the security service when the Pope visits the U.S., Pastor Grant has the opportunity for additional interesting discussions with the Pontiff. Throughout the book there are many instances where Pastor Grant is afforded and takes the opportunity to employ the Gospel in addressing questions thrown at him from many hard-bitten, skeptical, and belligerent individuals.

    Too good of a book to be true one might say. Maybe it is. The book has quite a few scenes with vulgarities and obscene activities – not just the killing type – but many sexual ones. When I ordered my copy I ordered several extra to give to family and friends. After reading the book I’m not so comfortable doing that. I realize that in order to sell a book to certain classes of novel readers that a certain amount of sex is needed. But how much is enough for a book that is definitely counting on a Christian audience and contains so many examples of how the Gospel is relevant to our everyday lives. I would love to hear from others who have read it so they may help me decide what to do with my extra copies.

    Eddie K

  • Eddie Kolodziej

    I just spent two late nights reading Warrior Monk. I had lots of trouble putting it down. As an LCMS member I was awe-struck at the author’s recounting of Pastor Grant’s role as a faithful shepherd moving from Matins to hospital visits to Vespers at St Mary’s, quoting Collects and prayers from the Lutheran Service Book, and attending church council meetings. Then before we know it he dashes off to a formal dinner party with politicians and other liberals which results in Pastor Grant having to discuss “just war theory” and water-boarding of terrorists. On another occasion he mingles with Catholic bishops and Cardinals where he gets to explain who the real Lutherans are; for instance, he discusses the shortcomings of the ELCA and the orthodoxy of the LCMS – not to mention getting to make the point in a polite way that LCMS Christians are “truly catholic.” As a member of the security service when the Pope visits the U.S., Pastor Grant has the opportunity for additional interesting discussions with the Pontiff. Throughout the book there are many instances where Pastor Grant is afforded and takes the opportunity to employ the Gospel in addressing questions thrown at him from many hard-bitten, skeptical, and belligerent individuals.

    Too good of a book to be true one might say. Maybe it is. The book has quite a few scenes with vulgarities and obscene activities – not just the killing type – but many sexual ones. When I ordered my copy I ordered several extra to give to family and friends. After reading the book I’m not so comfortable doing that. I realize that in order to sell a book to certain classes of novel readers that a certain amount of sex is needed. But how much is enough for a book that is definitely counting on a Christian audience and contains so many examples of how the Gospel is relevant to our everyday lives. I would love to hear from others who have read it so they may help me decide what to do with my extra copies.

    Eddie K


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