This past weekend, my parents gave Rachel and me our first overnight away from 8-month old Lincoln.  As much as were missing the lad and his three older sisters, we can’t say it kept us from relishing the time together amidst California’s breathtaking redwood forests.  The quietude also provided a rare chance for extended reading.  I picked up Tom Davis’ Priceless and couldn’t stop ‘til it was done.

The book is a page-turner, no question, in the vein of Clancy or Ludlum.  And despite its relentless pace, the book’s descriptions of Russia and its people are rich.  I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the former Soviet Union, and again and again found myself in the grip of nostalgia, nodding or grinning at the way Davis captured the beauty and quirks of the mystery-shrouded land and its people.

Beyond the sheer pleasure of a good read, however, the significance of the book is far deeper.  It leaves the reader awash not just in knowledge, but in the experience and emotion, of what it means for an orphan to live without provider or protector.  It helps us not only to understand, but to feel, why God calls us to “defend the cause of the fatherless.”

That’s why every movement in response to God’s call for justice requires not only good theology and strategy, but also good art.   As CS Lewis describes it in The Abolition of Man,  our head can only rule our decisions “through the chest [heart].”  That means that as vital as right thinking is, it is ultimately a rightly-formed heart (will, desire, emotion, aspiration, longing) that most impels right action.   (This is why Scripture urges, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life”—Proverbs 4:23.)  Good art, from truth-telling stories to music to movies, can powerfully stir and shape our hearts.  It can draw truth from idea to action.  Good art leads a migration from mind to heart, and then from there to hands and feet.

That’s just what Davis sought to do via a can’t-put-it-down thriller in Priceless.   He accomplished his goal marvelously.