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Finding Mr Goldman by David Rhodes – a review

24 February 2015

Mr Goldman imageDavid Rhodes, the author of Finding Mr Goldman was one of the speakers at a recent conference at St Edmunds Church, Rounday which examined Faith In Dark Places: Myths and Lies about Poverty. Here Haddon Wilmer who was among the 130 people who attended the day of talks and workshops reviews Rhodes’ book describing it as “very unusual, mysteriously Christian, just the sort of thing Alpha and the rest of us could do with.”

Finding Mr Goldman: A Parable by David Rhodes (172 pages, SPCK, 2015).

‘David Rhodes pulls no punches in offering a vivid parable of false riches and ultimate redemption.  This sparkingly well-written fiction entertains unerringly at the front door while the truth slips in through a side window.’ (Adrian Plass)

So let yourself be entertained, as I have. Like a parable it nudges and hints, alerting and inviting us to human possibilities.  Read it, let yourself be nudged, don’t try to tie down the meaning, walk with Mr Goldman.

I won’t spoil the fun by telling even a bit of the story. Some things it points to are:

The reality of the person apart from possessions, power, pretension – Mr Goldman is dependent on his money and power, and on his own achievement in making a great empire, so he is nothing to himself without it. He cannot imagine another way of being apart from his wealth-laden self, nor does he want to, nor can he risk it.

What is done to persons warps them, turning them away from and against themselves. And what people do to themselves, as they try to escape or revenge themselves for what they have suffered, makes everything worse than ever.

Is there grace and opportunity to undo what we have become? Can I unlearn the way of being me I have built up so arduously through living in my way for so long? Can there be release?

How does release come from encounter with those who are poor, weak, and despised, and yet are generous? From those who suffer harm and yet go on loving?

Can those who have been made inhuman by what they have suffered and done recover their humanity?

Is there a grace in and through death?  From where we are now in this life we find it hard to think there could be. In (often unadmitted) fear of death, we hold on to this life, pretending it is more satisfactory than it is because it seems to be all we’ve got.

Entering life through death has to come to us through parable. Is it not always parable?  Truth here is not a simple fact. No matter how much we believe or think we  know, we can relate to it only  by letting it stand as parable, teasing us with its ‘now you see me, now you don’t’, so that we have to be always searching, sometimes finding, but never holding fast. As Sheppard says, at the very end of the book, ‘Don’t ask. Just keep walking’. This is even after Mr Goldman has seen God.

Entering into life through death is not accomplished in a moment. Mr Goldman walks into many encounters with strange people and surprisingly with God in disguise, resulting in disconcerting self-discovery. His possessions are prised from his obstinate grasp, and his pretensions exposed. It appears in the end that this devastating judgement comes from the love which is the beginning and end of God’s creation. And so there is forgiveness for Mr Goldman. And as he comes into its light, he is able to forgive those who hurt him and set him on his evil road.

This parable gets us to think about who we are and how we are living in the realities of the world today. And who God is and what God is doing, in roundabout obscure ways and in encounters that can shake us to the roots. And it leaves us with the question, who really is Sheppard?

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