I don’t usually read novels twice. But I decided to make an exception for Jessie (1993), a novel written by pastor/professor/theologian/author John Killinger. I first read Jessie in the 1990s and recently read it again, finishing it on Easter Sunday as planned. (As it turned out, about the only thing I remembered about the book was that it ended with events that occurred on Easter.)
I was not disappointed in this second reading, although there is much in the book that is somewhat incredulous. Jessie is the name of the thirtyish women who is the central character of the book, and she is very much a Christ figure, in spite of the gender difference. In fact, the idea of gender equality is one of the main themes of the book, and Jessie elicits strong opposition because of that emphasis.
Here are quotes from the novel that I thought were worthy of inclusion in my diary/journal: Early in the book Jessie says, “God is not like a medicine you have to take. God is the sum of everything good and clean and pure and wonderful about the world” (p. 25). Throughout, Jessie calls God Baba, her childhood name for God which she continues to use all her life. At the very end of the book she remarks, “Baba is love overcoming hate and darkness and prejudice and everything that stands in the way of love. One day, Baba will have conquered everything and all the hate and darkness will be expelled” (pp. 287-8).
Jessie very much lived by, and expressed, the resurrection principle that I wrote about in my previous posting—and that is one reason I like the book so much.
Dr. Killinger (b. 1933) has written more than sixty books. Jessie was his first novel, and he has written only one other novel. A former pastor in Baptist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches, he also taught for fifteen years at Vanderbilt Divinity School and was Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Samford University in Birmingham. He is now retired and living in Virginia.