Reviewed by Eric Wilson
The Chair by James L. Rubart
"[Rubart] gives us powerful themes about forgiveness, relationship, and the deepest levels of true healing."
James Rubart blends easy, fast-paced reads with deep, spiritual ideas. In "Rooms," he used a huge coastal home to represent rooms and dark corners of our lives. In "Book of Days," he explored God's working in our lives, past, present, and future. This time around, "The Chair" is an ancient artifact that may or may not be a piece crafted by Jesus' own hands in His days as a carpenter.
Corin owns an antique store in Colorado Springs. He's an adrenaline junkie. He's also a man plagued by guilt, due to his brother's accident in one of their shared outdoor adventures years earlier. The story opens with the mysterious chair being delivered to Corin's shop by an elderly woman. She hints at its power and past, but leaves him to evaluate for himself whether this chair can actually heal anyone because of its divine origins. Even as Corin wrestles with that question, a pastor of a mega-church goes to great lengths to acquire the chair for his own personal needs.
The pages turn quickly, with the pastor turning up the heat by offering Corin a large sum of money for the chair. At the same time, Corin is beginning to believe in the chair's powers when it seems to offer healing to those who have sat in it. He also faces opposition from his girlfriend, who has a past that makes her antagonistic toward anything Christian. There are lots of elements in the mix, and I like that Rubart wants to up the stakes. Sometimes, these angles don't feel fully fleshed out, but he rightly keeps the primary focus on the relationship between Corin and his estranged brother. Will the chair pull them apart or draw them together? The answers do not come easily or without a cost. And Rubart gives us a surprise or two along the way.
I've read many novels that deal with religious artifacts, and most of them use a prologue from centuries earlier to help us buy into the veracity of the artifact. We don't get that here, and so I never fully bought into it, but that may have been the point. In giving us only a brief history of the chair, Rubart forces readers to weigh for themselves their doubt against their belief. In the end, "The Chair" gives us powerful themes about forgiveness, relationship, and the deepest levels of true healing.
is the author of twelve novels that explore Earth's tension between heaven
and hell, the latest of which is One Step Away, a twist on the story
daughters. Visit him online at his