The novel, Divine Towels by Beau Jason McGlynn, describes a mother and son, Claire and Ethan, who are led by God to begin a healing ministry called Divine Towels. By washing the feet of those seeking to be healed God uses Claire and Ethan to effect healing. The clear water turns black as those who have their feet washed begin to “think differently and have the uncanny ability to come up with unique solutions to complex problems (createspace).” In most cases, the healing takes place in the form of physical cures like release from pain and cure of paralysis. As the ministry flourishes, it generates both followers and opponents. Some people become apprentices to Claire and Ethan; in turn the apprentices become instruments of healing themselves. On the other hand, the local doctors and hospital experience a dramatic loss of business as many of their patients experience miraculous cures at Divine Towels. Some of these doctors quit their practice and apprentice at Divine Towels because they see a holistic healing taking place in the lives of people whom they could only help physically. However, other doctors vigorously oppose the ministry and try to have it shut down.
To read Divine Towels, like reading any fantasy literature, one must suspend belief and enter the alternative universe created by the author. Imagining the world created by McGlynn fills me with longing. I would love to visit a shop and experience a dramatic cleansing and renewal effected by the power of the Holy Spirit. I would love to send friends and loved ones to Divine Towels, where they would enter weighed low by troubles and leave with their heads lifted high and faces glowing because they have been revived by dramatic visitations of the Holy Spirit.
I think McGlynn would have us believe that the universe he creates is not in a galaxy far, far away. Rather, the work of the Holy Spirit takes place in peoples' lives on a daily basis, albeit much less dramatically than McGlynn pictures here. I would guess that McGlynn would say that he has experienced this healing himself. Though he lives with cerebral palsy, he has found that in the power of the Holy Spirit, he thinks differently and has “the uncanny ability to come up with unique solutions to complex problems.” So McGlynn wrote Divine Towels to inspire readers with hope.
Does Divine Towels do the job? Here’s my answer in three parts.
Yes. As I said already, reading Divine Towels fills me with longing. Wouldn’t it be great to get a quick, easy fix to tough challenges by having someone wash your feet? Though usually not working quickly, God does walk with us, restore us, and renew us. Jesus came into this world so that his followers may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10). We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Phil. 4:13). Our God meets all of our needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19). Divine Towels reminds readers of these promises.
No to so much. As a first-time novelist, McGlynn’s work does not have the polish that would make it an easy read. He lacks a good ear for dialogue; sometimes his characters launch into soliloquies that go on for pages. He begins the opposition to Divine Towels much too late in the book. Novels need to revolve around a dramatic tension that gets resolved near the end. Reading Divine Towels one feels like the first three fourths of the book is the setup, and the story really begins when the ministry faces opposition from the doctors on page 191. Then it ends only 70 pages later.
Maybe. Considering that many people who live with disabilities have been dragged to faith healers and accused of lack of faith when their disability was not cured, I wonder how they might react to this novel in which healing usually takes physical form. Too often, well-meaning Christians associate disability with sin. While McGlynn carefully avoids this association directly, the unspoken message is that those who have true faith in Christ will experience a physical cure. After all, the doctors launch the strongest opposition to the Divine Towels ministry because they lose paying customers to the ministry. So does Divine Towels leave readers, especially readers with disabilities, wondering whether their disability is evidence that they lack the faith to be cured? Or does it inspire hope and remind readers that God works in the lives of each of his loved one in powerful ways?
McGlynn labored over this work of love for 12 years. Nearly everyone who has ever read a book dreams of writing one himself. I give McGlynn credit for writing this novel and for his desire to inspire hope in the lives of his readers. If you have read it, please let me know what you think. To read more, check out McGlynn’s blog, Divine Towels. He has invited me to give his email address if you would like to write to him: [email protected].