Thriller thrillers Leona Foxx
Jack London’s Wolves
with Ted Peters
Literature and religion
The field – called “Literature and Religion” or “Literature and Theology” – has fascinated me since my graduate studies. When I was a student at the University of Chicago, I had the opportunity and honor to study with Nathan A. Scott, one of the ancestors of this domain. Under Scott’s tutelage, I was able to apply the theology-of-culture developed by theologians Paul Tillich and Langdon Gilkey to literary analysis. This method, the theology of culture, provides lenses through which one can perceive the religious depth underlying an otherwise secular discourse. I used this method to read the most widely read American author of the first quarter of the last century, Jack London.
Why might the theology of culture method work so well? Because Ralph C. Wood, a former student of Scott’s and now a professor at Baylor University, states, “The natural order is never self-contained but always and already honored.” By digging into the depths, the literary critic can discover divine grace because it is already there.
When I became a fiction writer, however, I found the theology of culture method disconcerting. It is something to analyze. It’s another one to build. Oh, I could handle the plot just fine. But deliberately exploiting subtle overtones, shades and nuances felt contrived, in a way. This led me to speculate that great novelists most likely write intuitively, perhaps even mystically.
In this main literature and theology page you will find my own spy writings as well as my analysis of Jack London’s Wolf Troika: The Call of the Wild, White Fang, and The sea bass. In both writing and reading, the depth I seek is found not only in religion, but also in science. To be more precise, science itself can give off a religious valence. This is what the theology-of-culture discovers and makes visible.
The fictional Leona Foxx leads a tense double life. She is unwittingly reverted to being a trained CIA black ops killer, while serving her new call to God as a parish pastor on Chicago’s South Side. Haunted by a terrifying past, Leona’s skills as a defender of America against foreign and domestic threats clash with her conscience, which is shaped by her faith and compassion for friend and foe alike.
Leona uncovers a terrorist plot hatched by American mercenaries, who plan to blame Iran, threatening a war that will make them rich. She sheds her office collar to pack her .45 Kimber Super Match II and rallies an anti-terrorist alliance of professional crime fighters and black gang members. The story culminates in a drone attack on the 85th floor of the John Hancock Building, intended to assassinate the President.
Only Leona Foxx, her ragtag team of diehards, her finely honed killer instincts, her arsenal of high-tech weaponry and her faith in God can avert the devastation that could kill millions of innocent people and manifest itself in hell on earth.
Discover and memorize Leona’s Law of Evil: You know it’s Satan’s voice when you hear the call to shed innocent blood.
“God.” She started a prayer. His thoughts drifted. As in a theater seat, she watched the past dramas of her life. The faces of the three young men who endangered her life at Cheltenham station flashed on her mental scene. She relived the terrifying moment when she saw the northbound train about to behead her. Then Orpah Tinnen entered the scene. Leona thought of her son, Magnus, beheaded by the Iranian army. She remembered her moment in the church kitchen, her memory of the bloody chest of the executed prisoner.
“God,” she muttered. She stopped. “God, you have such a fucked up world. Why did you put me here like a pincushion to feel every prick of her pain? Yes, I want to love your world as much as you do. But damn it, it’s hard. I would like to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and strength to trust what I cannot see. But damn it, I’m too pissed off to think it’s worth it. I hope your grace covers me. Amen.”
Leona Foxx is a black op with a white collar, who worships on two altars, her country and her God. She fights fiercely for both.
Chicago pastor Leona Foxx confronts renegade transhumanists who are making themselves kingmakers by selling spy technology. Leona’s strategy is to turn the superintelligence against itself in order to preserve world peace. Can a mere human prevail over the posthuman?
If you want to grasp the promises and risks of improving human intelligence that our transhumanist friends deliver to us, read Cyrus Twelve.
Blood sacrifice. Could there be anything more evil? What happens when the symbols of grace are upset? Are we hopeless?
Set in the Adirondack Mountains, the clash between good and evil escapes its local boundaries to threaten the nation and even engulf the world. Selling souls to perdition stokes the fires of hell so that we on Earth cannot avoid the heat.
Discover and memorize Leona’s Law of Evil: You know it is the voice of Satan when you hear the call to shed innocent blood. On the shores and islands of Lake George, some ears hear this call. Leona swims into action to stop the bloodshed.
Nature is blood”red in teeth and claw.Although these are the words of the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson in the song of the dinosaurs of his In memory, Jack London (1876-1916) conveyed their truth with convulsive drama, vicious gore and indescribable cruelty.
In what I call London Wolf Troikawe read in The Call of the Wild how a dog from San Francisco, Buck, travels to Alaska and becomes a wolf. Next, White Fang, an Alaskan wolf moves to San Francisco and becomes a dog. In the third of the troika, sea bass, a Norwegian ship’s captain named Wolf Larsen exhibits the traits of both a civilized human and an atavistic beast. Framed in terms of Darwinian evolution, the London figures demonstrate that the primitive wolf still lives in our dogs and dog owners today.
The moral of London is this: never unwittingly rest with a peaceful civilization. At any moment, civilization can erupt like a volcano and spread the fury, barbarism and savagery of a wolf. Our evolutionary past still threatens to wake up with an all-consuming cruelty, tearing down all that generations have patiently put in place. In the language of evolution, London describes original and inherited sin.
As a complement, I add what could be the last short story written by London, “The Red One”. When we turn”The Redof 1916, it seems that London was hoping for heaven’s grace.
Now, London was a Darwinian naturalist. Not overtly religious. Yet London intuitively recognized our desperate need for grace. Alone, our human species is unable to evolve fast enough or advance far enough to escape our wolf genes. Could visitors from heaven provide celestial technology that could, through grace, lead to our transformation? Could heaven’s grace come in the form of a UFO from outer space? Four decades before the June 1947 flying saucer sighting, London’s imaginative spirit soared to extraterrestrial civilizations that might save us from ourselves on earth.
Because my method in Literature and Religion is based on a theology-of-culture, I seek out treasures that are different from those of other interpreters in London. I have come to admire two generations of Jack London aficionados and scholars who fertilized and pruned this literary tradition. I have greatly benefited from meeting some of the Jack London Company sockdolagers such as Russ and Winnie Kingman, who produced An Illustrated Life of Jack London. Over the years I have benefited greatly from devouring essays and books by Earle Labor, Jeanne CampbellReesman, Clarice Stasz, Richard Rocco, Kenneth Brandt, and others. I started reading the multi-volume intellectual biography of Jack London, Author under sailby Jay Williams. There are more facts in William’s compilation than the Encyclopedia Britannica could dream of. And, of course, don’t miss Jay Craven’s new film, “Martin Eden by Jack London.”
I am currently working on this Patheos series dealing with Wolf Troika by Jack London. Here’s what to expect.
Jack London 1: The Call of the Wild
Jack London 2: White Fang
Jack London 3: The sea bass
Jack London 4: The Lone Wolf Ethics
Jack London Chapter 5: Wolf Pack Ethics
Jack London 6: Wolf and Lamb Ethics
Jack London Chapter 7: “The Red”
Literature and religion: writing and reading in search of divine grace.
Ted Peters sues Public theology at the intersection of science, religion, ethics and public policy. Peters is Professor Emeritus at the Theological Union of Graduateswhere he co-edits the journal, Theology and science, in the name of the Center for Theology and Natural Sciences, in Berkeley, California, United States. His book, God in cosmic history, traces the rise of axial religions 2500 years ago. He previously wrote Play God? Genetic determinism and human freedom? (Routledge, 2n/a ed., 2002) as well as Science, theology and ethics (Ashgate 2003). He is editor of AI and AI: Utopia or Extinction? (ATF 2019). With Arvin Gouw and Brian Patrick Green, he co-edited the new book, Religious transhumanism and its detractors fresh off the press (Roman and Littlefield/Lexington, 2022). Soon he will publish The Voice of Christian Public Theology (ATF 2022). See his website: TedsTimelyTake.com. His fictional spy thriller, Cyrus Twelve, follows the twists and turns of a transhumanist plot.