Wolves, Mercy, and Grace

Anthony Weber —  July 7, 2012 — Leave a comment
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     It is easy to see howMaggie Stiefvater’s popular YA series, The Wolves of Mercy Falls, resonates with today’s YA audience.  In the midst of familial dysfunction and teenage angst, true love lurks just out of sight – until it shows up on your back deck. Literally.  Mrs. Stiefvater uses some great imagery to craft a morally murky morality tale about life, family, identity and love.  In the end, she offers hope that, for at least some of us, our history is not our destiny.
     This series offers a thought provoking (and sometimes disturbing) story that can at least start a conversation about mercy, grace, forgiveness and redemption. I say “at least start” because, from a Christian perspective, there are some important truths missing from the story that shouldn’t be, and a number of situations that aren’t missing from the story that should.
      For those of you interested in how entertainment both reflects and forms us, here is an excerpt of my review: 
As far as literary devices go, the metaphor of the wolf is a great way to explore a dark side of human nature that we are inclined to desire or indulge. 
         As Grace gets closer to changing, she sees that “there was something invisible and dangerous lurking inside me, and I was done being good.”  Wolves have no sense of boundaries, which is why they are in trouble.  They keep leaving Boundary Woods and ravaging the neighborhood pets – and sometimes people. This is a problem in itself.  But the book introduces a philosophical rabbit hole that may go much deeper than just physical transformation. 
     “In the end, we’re wolves. I can read him (Sam) German poetry and Paul can teach him about participles and you can play Mozart for him, but in the end, it’s a long, cold night and those woods for all of us.” So says one werewolf in a speech that sounds a lot like Dawkin’s view of the universe, or Cormac McCarthys’ view of life in Sunset Unlimited.  Are we all just animals in the end? If this is true, no wonder “Hope hurt more than cold,” as Sam says in Shiver.
    However, that’s not the final word in the story.  Sam believes that “It doesn’t make you a monster.  It just takes away your inhibitions…if you are naturally angry or violent, it gets worse.”  In other words, the wolf reveals us for who we really are – it supersizes us.  In this series, the wolf is not automatically evil; it is a way in which to see what the primal “you” is really like when stabilizing societal influences disappear.

Anthony Weber

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Anthony graduated from Cedarville University in 1995 with a degree in English Education, and from Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana in 2004 with a Master's Degree in Theology and Philosophy. Anthony is a husband and father of three, an author ("Learning to Jump Again"), high school and college teacher, pastor, blogger (tcapologetics.org, empiresandmangers.blogspot.com), and co-founder of etcetera, a "street-level philosophy group" in Traverse City, Michigan.