“Castles in the Sand” is a novel which, to the uninformed reader, might rank as far-fetched and unbelievable in the world of Christian doctrine. If only …

Anyone who has attended a religion class on our college and university campuses will find the content to be colored with the personal doctrines of the professors. In “Castles,” our heroine becomes enmeshed with a wolf in sheep’s clothing and her teachings.

Author Carolyn Green has spent years studying the New Age movement and the resulting indoctrination. That she has teamed up with the brave folks at Lighthouse Trails Publishing is not an accident. Lighthouse is now a leading publisher of conservative Christian titles and serves a key role in a dwindling class of houses that are not afraid to be politically incorrect. Major kudos to Lighthouse Trails Publishing for taking on this important project.

It is frightening to discover how much has slithered into our churches, schools and seminaries … unnoticed. Some of the practices include, but are not limited to, extasis (altered states of consciousness which are opening doors for deceptive spirits), energy healing, mysticism and “the silence.” In reality, most of these come from other religions, such as Hinduism. What is referred to as New Age often is very Old Age, even coming from misguided roots of the Catholic Church.

The novel finds young Tessa Dawson entering a Bible college that is reputable and trusted to be biblically sound. She soon discovers herself immersed in doctrines that are far from Christ-centered. The professors and other students are completely submerged in false teachings, and Tessa soon is drawn to this “new way” of discovering Christianity.

Quickly she becomes trapped in something frightening and threatening to her spiritual and physical existence as she dives deeper and deeper into Spiritual Formation 101 class.

The professor, Ms. Jasmine, a beautiful, serene and seemingly wise woman, takes a special interest in Tessa. At first Tessa is honored as she is told she is special. Feeling like an exile, orphaned at an early age, she finally finds someone who understands her.

Tessa is tutored in the theory: “Ordinary things are in the church for ordinary people, but God has other things for special people.”

Ms. Jasmine shows Tessa and her students the way to God through Christian contemplative heritage: “Early Christians whose writings we treasure are the ones who first taught the practice of Contemplative Prayer. These writings are at the heart of Christianity’s traditions. Of course, some say they bear a strong resemblance to Hindu and Buddhist meditative techniques, but there is nothing wrong with borrowing from other streams of spirituality and rediscovering other traditions, as the Desert Fathers did. Just because some of them, such as Saint Anthony, frequently experienced strange and terrifying psycho-physical forces during prayer, doesn’t mean we toss the baby out with the bathwater.”

Such a quote will be familiar to anyone who’s endured (and discerned) the bias that passes for teaching in so many of our nation’s schools.

As Tessa soon finds, these practices open doors to the spirit realm that is not of God. As she enters the state of “ecstasy,” she describes it as “a state of higher consciousness, a blissful or euphoric state that mystics experience during meditation.” What starts as a new and exciting blissful way to worship soon threatens her very sanity and existence.

The author has deftly paralleled the life of Tessa Dawson with the life of St. Teresa of Avila whose “state of rapture brought her visions into the spiritual world.” St. Teresa lived in Spain in the 1500’s. She herself often was overtaken with “ecstasy” and would levitate even when she resisted. She heard from many “spiritual advisors” and trusted in them even though they might give her conflicting messages. She inflicted painful tortures upon herself to try to rid herself of the visions that were early on attributed to Satan.

Forced to defend herself against the Inquisition to root out heresy in the Catholic Church, she composed “The Interior Castle” – a book of instruction for her nuns. She describes the soul as a castle and how one must journey into the interior seven rooms through prayer.

St. Teresa’s teachings were accepted by the Catholic Church. She was later declared a Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church for her teachings on prayer and is the patron saint of headaches, having suffered with them throughout her life.

This novel is not a dull introduction to New Age teaching. It has a believable, action-packed plot with characters that are interesting and likable. Many times an author with modest writing ability will attempt to educate through a novel and fail to make it hold the reader’s attention. That is definitely not the case with this fantastic effort. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in learning about New Age teachings, or to give to someone that is already caught in its trap. “Castles in the Sand ” is definitely an eye-opener!

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