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Gabriel’s Magic Ornament: Union professor authors children’s book

JACKSON, Tenn.April 10, 2002 – Union University philosophy and Christian studies professor Randall Bush has authored a children’s Christmas story that is being published and is scheduled for release by Pristine Publishers this coming July.

Director of the interdisciplinary honors program at Union, Bush said he has always had a large dose of the Christmas spirit.

“As a homesick freshman at Howard Payne University, I once decorated a lamp with a single strand of Christmas lights,” recalled Bush. Returning home for the holidays to find the tree already up and decorated, he used his strand of lights to spell ‘noel’ in the window. “Unfortunately, to the rest of the neighborhood, this bit of holiday cheer appeared as l-e-o-n,” Bush laughed.

As he grew older, his enthusiasm for the holiday remained and in the Christmas of 1992 as he sat in church at a living Christmas tree service, an idea started forming for a story that would allow adults and children alike to experience anew the magic of Christmas.

The story centers on the adventures and misadventures of two children, Chris and Laura, unwittingly drawn into the land of Arboria through a magical ornament their father has brought home from the village Christmas shop. Upon their arrival in Arboria they find that it is a land turned dark by the terrible creature, Lesnit, consumer of the angel lights. Without these lights the Orna, a beautiful but fragile and hollow people, cannot follow the path to Tree Top and be filled with the joy of the Christmas Spirit by the Star at Tree Top. As they travel through a land torn by selfishness, greed, hate, and hypocrisy, they must find a way to stop Lesnit from utterly destroying the once peaceful and beautiful land of Arboria.

“No Christmas tree will ever look the same again after you have read Randall Bush’s piece of Christmas magic,” said Paul S. Fiddes, principal of Regent’s Park College at Oxford, where Bush received his doctorate in modern theology. “Among the branches of this familiar tree he creates a whole world of good, evil and salvation. Echoes of John Bunyan, C.S. Lewis and the Bible abound, as do humorous sideswipes at the absurdities of our present-day world, but it is the author’s own vivid imagination that will keep the young reader turning the page.”

Fiddes, however, isn’t the only one who has enjoyed the story.

“I begged my teacher to read the book everyday and didn’t want her to stop at the end of each chapter,” said Marcus Hill, a fourth grader. His classmate Westly P agreed. Both are students of Bush’s sisters who teach elementary school in Texas.

A bit closer to home, ninth grader Stephen Thomas, son of Union associate history professor David Thomas, observed that it was “a great story with a good message about real life. Like C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia tales, children are magically transported into a dying world that they help other creatures save from evil.”

Gabriel’s Magic Ornament is illustrated by Union senior art major Ryan Schunemann. Other stories to look forward to from Bush are the children’s books “The Caterbury Tails” and “The Adventures of Spider Long Legs”, along with a full-length fantasy, after the style of Tolkien, for young adults titled “The Quest for Asdin.”

By Alaina Kraus, Class of 2005

Media contact: Sara B. Horn, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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