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The Prize-Winning Story

Category: NovelPublished Date: September 2021ISBN: 978-9657738221Pages: 342
Author: Ken Yoder Reed
  Bless Israel Paperback  PDF Amazon Kindle

“Yours Truly, Pastor Vladdy. I’m just an ex-hippie who loves the Jews . . . leading my 15th tour of the Holy Land. First off, I land Major Eli, Israel’s top counter-terrorist, as our licensed guide. The story-telling contest and $5,000 prize? That’s Eli’s idea. My pilgrims bubble up wonderful stories! But ‘What about the Palestinians?’ The partnership between me and my friend ruptures. Where’s Eli? The TV headlines coming out of the violent Gaza Strip—could that be Eli?”

Reed calls himself a refugee Mennonite. He spent thirty years in Pennsylvania and then moved to San Francisco, became a recruiter for high-tech firms and a Presbyterian (ECO). Reed’s historical novels – Mennonite Soldier, He Flew Too High and Both My Sons – are available through Masthof Press.

Editor’s Pick, BookLife/Publisher’s Weekly

“Inspired by the Canterbury Tales, this satire finds American Christians facing the reality of the Holy Land. No satiric novel about the Middle East could please all readers, of course, but Reed’s approach is smart and sensitive, even as he gleefully satirizes the relationship between American evangelicals and Israeli hardliners. His prose is sharp, even cutting at times, but there’s nothing parodic about many of his pilgrims’ stories, which take faith seriously.”

Reviewed by: Wayne S. Walker, Book Reviewer

“Reed, Ken Yoder. The Prize-Winning Story (Published in 2021 by Root Source Press, Love of the Land Street #1, Maale Hever, DN Har Hebron, Israel). It is November 2016, and Vladimir “Pastor Vladdy” Krakow is a sixty-three-year-old ex-hippie minister from San Francisco, CA, who has a twice-weekly, one-hour radio program For Zion’s Sake, and is leading fourteen pilgrims on his fifteenth tour of the Holy Land. He lands Major Eli Bloom, Israel’s top counter-terrorist, as their licensed guide. Vladdy and Eli devise a story-telling contest with a $5,000 prize. As they visit various sites in Israel, different pilgrims tell their stories, in a similar fashion to The Canterbury Tales. Who wins the contest? Where does Eli go when called away on a secret mission? And how does Vladdy answer the question “What about the Palestinians?” The book is called a satire, so it’s difficult to know exactly how to take it. The “d” and “h” words are used as curses, and the terms “O my God” and “Gawd” are found as exclamations. “Pastor” Vladdy is divorced and remarried. And there are references to drinking beer.

Publisher’s Weekly noted, “No satiric novel about the Middle East could please all readers.” The theme of the book is stated by the author, Ken Yoder Reed, who wrote, “When people talk about Christians replacing Jews as God’s Chosen People, we need to say NO, God doesn’t change His mind.” The position to which Reed says NO is often called Replacement Theology or Fulfillment Theology, and many devout Bible believers do not share Reed’s view. Another reviewer expressed it as well as I could, saying, “A particular school of biblical interpretation called Replacement Theology is demonized by several characters….Characters call all proponents of this teaching anti-Semitic and Dr. Michael Brown states, ‘A straight line runs from Replacement Theology to Hitler and the Final Solution for the “Problem of the Jews.”’ While this theology has been used to rationalize terrible violence against Jews, it is not the cause of such crimes. There are many sincere Christians who believe Replacement Theology and are not anti-Semitic.”

Blaming Christians today for 1600 years of persecution of the Jews, including the Holocaust, often led by so-called “Christian leaders,” is like blaming all Jews today for the crucifixion of Christ. All racial and ethnic prejudice is wrong. It seems that in the current climate, anyone who expresses any sort of criticism, however mild, of Israel or Judaism is called “anti-Semitic.” I certainly believe in the right of the Jewish people to be secure in their homeland, and I support the State of Israel as the only democratically governed nation in the Middle East, but not because of what I am convinced is a misinterpretation of the Bible. I really did not care for the book because of its theology, with which I strongly disagree, but from a purely literary standpoint, the plot of the novel itself is very engaging, the stories told by the pilgrims are intriguing, and the information presented about the history and geography of the area, assuming that it is all accurate, is quite fascinating.”

“Like Vladdy, I am grieved by 1600 years of persecution of the Jews, often led by Christian leaders. This reached its horrible climax in the Holocaust. But it’s happening today on the streets of London and New York and on social media. Our Father God made promises to Abraham. When people talk about Christians replacing Jews as God’s Chosen People, we need to say NO, God doesn’t change His mind.” – Ken Yoder Reed

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