Sunday 16 October 2005

Tongues of Flame

Yesterday I came across a novel by Tim Parks which I had never gotten around to reading: Tongues of Flame (London: Heinemann, 1985). So I read it while the kids were taking their afternoon nap.

I wasn’t disappointed. It’s the most autobiographical of all Parks’ novels, and it tells the story of a London church that gets visited by “the Sword of the Spirit”—i.e. by charismatic renewal—in the 1960s. It’s a humorous story with some real insights into the potential hazards of revivalism, and it builds toward a chilling climax. Without wanting to spoil the story, I should also say that it contains a superbly disturbing scene of exorcism.

Here’s the blurb from the cover: “The gift of tongues, prophecy, exorcism ... what might such concepts mean in a complacent backwater of North London? For Richard Bowen, adolescence becomes a nightmare when his parents join the charismatic movement and find a devil in his brother.”

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