Called To Die is a non-fiction story by Steve Estes. Covering the life of one Chet Bitterman, a victim of Columbian terrorists, it smacks of typical Reader's Digest style Drama In Real Life (which, with the few changes of location and cause, remains the same damn story over and over and over again). The story itself isn't bad, but those of you hankering for a Delta Force or Rambo style action where a bunch of government-denied jarheads jump out of a plane and go awry on the evil hooded machine-gun brandishing terrorists and strew around more bullets than the country has in their budget will fall asleep on this one.
Chet Bitterman was a translator for the Summer Institute of Linguistics, a group that visits Indian cultures around the world to "deliver the good news of Jesus." Um ok, I'm going to do my damnedest to not go crapping all over organized religion, as I typically do in these situations, but I can't promise anything. So if I start to stray from the book review, I'll do my best to drag myself back to the novel if I have to.
The SIL has been plagued by bad publicity, claims that it's a CIA front, etc. and a group going by the name of M-19 wants them out of Columbia. In order to achieve this end they capture dear martyr-boy Chet. Around this point the story gets utterly stupid. First off, let's discuss this hackneyed plan of kidnapping and killing a pretty nice guy, with a family, working "in the eyes of the Lord" [koff]. Now someone please explain to me how the killing of a nice guy in the name of your cause is going to help? Chet was about as close to Flanders (a'la Simpsons) as one could get without being drawn. Annoying? Probably. But well liked and considered pretty much the epitome of niceness. So knock him out and you've just spray painted "Big Bad Guy" across your forehead for the world to see. Didn't do much good for M-19's cause at all.
Now let's discuss the other side. The Summer Institute of Linguistics' reaction to the kidnapping is quite simple. Let's pray! No need to search for him, try and recover him, fight to get him back. Just sit on our fat asses and pray for his delivery! Look at their God's track record man everyone who listened to him is DEAD. His own son, according to their literature, was martyred. Joan of Arc listened to him and got fried up like a chicken. I think that if someone took my son I'd do a whole lot more than pray about it. I'd try and get him back.
Anyway, the book itself isn't badly written. Of course you'll have to gag yourself through a lot of godly blah stuff, but the drama itself isn't a bad story. But remember regardless of the inclusion in the novel of Columbian terrorists, it has about as much action as a Barney movie.
"Called To Die" by Steve
Copyright © 1986 by The Zondervan Corporation