What would it be like to discover a church where people really showed interest and support for one another ? Where people could find shelter if they needed a place to stay. Where there would be kind words along with advocacy for those who are marginalized, discriminated and ignored ? What would happen if a community really spoke out, addressed and supported actions and legislation promoting economic and environmental justice and peace ?
Author Jim Asparro has addressed these issues previously in his first novel “ Salt Of The Earth: A Portland Story”. Dr. Alexandra Savich, a theoretical mathematician and violin virtuoso says to the Rev. Dr. Ben Dawson, pastor of the Lake Oswego Progressive Church Of America:
“ Look, buster, let’s get something straight. You’re much more than money. You have character, purpose, and meaning in your life, something few people have where I come from. You’re providing so much happiness, community, acceptance, and love at your church, that nothing can compete with it. There aren’t that many people in most reformed churches these days, but your mainline liberal church is making a difference; your church accepts people as they are with all their frailties, imperfections, differences of opinion, sexual orientation, age ,skin color, socioeconomic status and so on.
You’ve been instrumental in encouraging each and every one of your parishioners to live to their fullest potential and think more about others than themselves. I think Jesus had something to say about this “ ( P.P. 382-383 )
Now with the sequel “ Obsessed “ Rev. Dr. Ben Dawson and Dr. Alexandrea Savich return and continue an even more tumultuous journey . Ben and Alex are now married and are trying to carry on a fairly normal life. Ben is the minister of his progressive church in Lake Oswego, Or and Alex is a Math Professor at Reed College. She also is s proficient violinist.
They co-authored a book “ God In The Numbers “ which became a great success but also infuriated religious conservatives.
Here we see the resurgence of Ray Fish, felon and anti-Abortion crusader and former owner of Fish Dairy products and Palmer Grandstone, a Boston, Ma art dealer who former knew Alex from the Boston Youth Symphony and who still wants to possess her.
Obsessed deals with themes of desire, jealously and avarice. Both Ray Fish and Palmer Grandstone want to destroy the relationship of Ben and Alex. Another new character Ramona Hightower plays a prominent role is this attempted demise of the relationship and of the church.
The message of Obsessed is hopeful because despite all of the devious, malicious attempts to injure the protagonist characters and what they stand for, other people including the detective Jeremy Smith help to find the right answers.
This book is a delightful read and it is most helpful especially now with all of the serious challenges facing our country.
Readers who are familiar with Portland, Or will delight in all of the references to various sections and landmarks in the city as well as character names which also reference notables in Portland’s history.
Jim Asparro is a talented and gifted writer. He has offered to his audience compassion, a keen eye to detail and character development and great wit in telling this revealing story.
Obsessed will leave you with a smile and a lot of laughs and reasons to feel hopeful regarding the future.
May it be so.
“ Obsessed “ by James Asparro ( 2020 )