Serenity #6: You Shall Love

Serenity #6: You Shall Love (2006)
by Realbuzz Studios | Barbour Books
96 Pages - Full Color [ Youth / Youth Interest / Teen Fiction ]

Story and Creation - Buzz Dixon
Art - Min Kwon
Original Character Designs - Drigz Abrot

Publisher summary: Her leg's in a cast, the power's out, and Serenity is bored stiff. Reluctantly, she picks up the Bible she received when she first visited the Prayer Club - and soon loses herself in the Word of God. Before long, she's pestering her friends with spiritual questions. Is this the dawning of faith for the troubled teen who's made life so interesting for the Christian kids of James A. Madison High?

Reviewer: UC Pseudonym | Contact | 20 January 2008

This volume is mostly about character development, particularly Serenity encountering the Bible. In addition to this, her relationship with her mother develops and begins to improve. Her mother unfortunately still functions as a ďGrr, I hate ChristiansĒ strawman, but this is likely to lessen as both of them change. If she is really a generically spiritual individual, however, one must wonder why she objects so strongly to her daughterís pseudo-conversion. Considering that so far the change has been limited to tame moral issues, most people in her position would find it positive, even if they disapproved of the more conservative aspects of Christianity.

Ms. Baxter returns and reprises her role as Bad Influence and general butt of jokes. Her character aside, I have a problem with this mockery. The story would be much more complex (and realistic) if there was a non-Christian character who was honestly a decent person.

In regard to the humor, I find myself fairly neutral. Aside from one joke panel that succeeds because of raw cheese factor (featuring taped-in Sally) I didnít find any of it funny, but I was able to skim past it mostly without annoyance. Given that I am a far cry from the target audience, I donít know if this might be successful for others.

This volume also swerves abruptly into apologetics, though this topic is appropriate given Serenityís encounter with the Bible. Prayer is addressed further and mostly superficially, but Iím willing to forgive this because the issue is rather difficult. Though Serenity might not follow skeptical lines of thought very far, at least she asks the questions. I found Pastor Calvinís association of basic questions with a theology degree mildly disturbing, reminiscent of some anti-intellectual trends in American Christianity, but I wonít pursue an ambiguous issue.

Near the end of this volume things turn into a defense of the Bible against unfriendly criticism. Like most other discussions, this one is fairly brief and superficial. If it suggests to young readers that scriptural accuracy is an important concern but there are decent arguments for it, thatís fine. If it makes them think a few generic and unsupported statements are a defense of faith, that is significantly less than fine.

Like much of Serenity, these arguments have a triumphalist overtone, as if all these issues are simple and settled. I was uncomfortable with how blithely various objections were tossed aside (except perhaps concerning the Jesus Seminar). Worst, they use one of the most abused apologetic arguments: CS Lewisís trilemma. It has some significance as the end of an argument that has established scriptural accuracy and certain theological points, but alone it is open to many critiques: there are obviously other logical possibilities than Lord-Lunatic-Liar.

Perhaps I have become more charitable during the reviewing gap, but the sixth volume of Serenity didnít strike me as negatively as the others. Certain problems of dialogue and overall shallow pacing remain, but much of the content could be worse.

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