Through a Glass, Darkly

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Thanks you Ms. Koen for restoring my faith in historical novels! View all 15 comments. Shelves: marysues , should-ve-been-shorter , historicalfiction , maybe-it-s-me , couldntfinish , chicklit. After some grappling and soul-searching, I have finally decided not to finish this book. As Karen said in her review, there's nothing wrong with indulging in a trashy novel occasionally, but pages is a big investment for trash.

This book reminded me of some of the Philippa Gregory books I've tried to read and abandoned, although I did find the characters here slightly more interesting. Barbara, a beautiful how could she not be? Although this worshipful unrequited love by heroines has annoyed me in the past, I could forgive it a little -- just a little -- in Barbara because she is, after all, Roger has agreed to marry little Barbara despite their age difference because she comes with property in which he would like to invest. Roger, though mostly a cad, actually does care for Barbara on some level, although his love clearly doesn't match hers a deeply rooted passion which is based on, uh, his good looks?

It takes them a while to actually get married, because of scheming on the part of various family members with regard to the property and milking Roger. As a result, the book was slower than your typical Harlequin-cum-historical-romance, and I closed it after finally reaching their wedding night on page or so. Other things that annoyed me included ridiculously heavy-handed characterization. For example, Barbara's cousin Tony, the stupid-but-goodhearted character in the book, continuously leaves off the first words of his sentences in an effort to remind you of his limited intelligence, except for those rare moments where he shines in heroically.

His sentences in those scenes are helpfully complete, sometimes accompanied by asides from the author pointing out that this was one of the rare occasions in which he spoke in full sentences. What is that? Is he just pretending to be dumb the rest of the time? I wasn't motivated to read far enough to solve this mystery. Barbara also consistently lifts her chin whenever she's deciding to defy authority. She's lifting her chin -- look out, world! These types of trashy-pretending-to-be-literary historical romances are also often guilty of anachronism.

I found the character of Roger's friend Tommy Carlyle, a flaming homosexual complete with heels, make-up, and sexy young men draped on his arms, extremely difficult to swallow for the s. Look -- I don't know much about that period of history, but I really find it hard to believe that one could be so blatantly homosexual and still function as a part of high society in those days, a group which, in this book, included the British royal family another hallmark of this type of historical fiction -- of course, they're all best buds with the people in the history books, as Sarah pointed out in her review of "March".

I actually gave this three stars because, if you're a more forgiving reader who likes historical romance, I could see this being a good read despite its flaws. If it had been shorter and tighter, I would have finished it and maybe even enjoyed it. However, if you want a good historical romance, I would suggest "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon instead.

View all 23 comments. Oct 29, Misfit rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites , read-and-keep-for-a-reread , historical-romance , historical-fiction. I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I become a man I put away childish things. Barbara is the granddaughter of the Duke and Duchess of Tamworth and she and her younger siblings were raised by their grandparents instead of their parents Kit and Diana Alderley.

Kit is an exiled Jacobite involved in the plots to put James III on the throne and Diana is a scheming slut desperate to wed Diana off to a wealthy man to save her from her creditors. Roger eventually takes his new wife and business to Paris and an innocent Barbara soon gets quite an education in the debauched lifestyle of the French court and its courtiers. Someone from Roger's past returns that thoroughly upsets Barbara's marital applecart and sends her life spinning out of control, and only Grandmama can set it to rights.

Or can she?


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And that's all I'm going to tell you - I don't write book reports. This is the second time I've read the book and I enjoyed it just as much as the first. I loved watching Barbara mature from a young innocent you will want to slap her a few times to a mature woman who could take just about anything life threw her way — and life throws her a lot of heartache. This is a book to be savored, like a box of fine chocolate or a rich red wine. Highly recommended, and one I will read again and again and again.

View all 21 comments. Jul 28, Chennijen rated it did not like it Recommends it for: silly chits. Have you ever come across one of those books in which the main protagonist starts out being beautiful, brave, intelligent This is what happened to me with this book. I read a summary of the work somewhere and thought that it aspired to be much more than a trashy historical rom Have you ever come across one of those books in which the main protagonist starts out being beautiful, brave, intelligent I read a summary of the work somewhere and thought that it aspired to be much more than a trashy historical romance.

When Barbara threw a bizarro tantrum and developed an eating disorder because they wouldn't let her marry the object of her childish crush, I wanted to throw the book at the wall. And then stomp on it a few times once it hit the floor. Instead I continued to read, hoping that the ending would redeem the rest. I want those hours back. View 2 comments. I read this first 20 years ago yes, I am that old. And I remembered it so fondly because I was in France at the time and this was one of the few novels in English that I read while I was there.

It was such a relaxing way to spend a day at the beach, doubly so because all the rest of the time I was there I was having to work in my second language, which I wasn't nearly so strong in. So, I reread it and it was a very different experience this time. It's still a really fun and well-written novel, I read this first 20 years ago yes, I am that old. It's still a really fun and well-written novel, but I remember having a very different reaction to the heroine when I was younger than I did this time around.

Interesting how you change with age. And I'd forgotton how compelling the grandmother was. Dec 05, Emily rated it liked it Recommends it for: historical fiction lovers. Recommended to Emily by: the shelves that constantly had it on sale in every used booksto. Shelves: historicalfiction-longeighteenth-ce. This was a surprisingly absorbing read. I'm still a bit stressed, so I've been binging on historical fiction I even ordered my first Heyer novels. Koen's novel is sprightly told and competently researched. It mixes historical figures into the narrative fairly well though they aren't nearly as captivating as the main characters or the actual historical figures they are based upon.

I'm debating between a two and a three star. On one hand, when I think on it, it doesn't seems to be a particular This was a surprisingly absorbing read. On one hand, when I think on it, it doesn't seems to be a particularly memorable book. On the other, I found it very hard to put down and couldn't wait to see how it ends. I'm going with the higher score, because I was absorbed while it lasted and found the ending moving.

Below are what I see as its pros and cons. I've tried to keep it as spoiler-free as possible.


  1. Ein Fall für zwei (German Edition).
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  6. There are villains and heroes, but they are presented a three-dimensional and very human except for maybe the French characters. Maybe this is due to current events or just the fact I find it be an interesting historical event.

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    This doesn't just apply to the upper class leads Barbara and her grandmother, Alice, who I think is the lead in the prequel , but Barbara's maid Therese and to a lesser extent, Diana's maid Clemmie were intriguing to follow. The text dances around it, Barbara is blind to it until the climax in the center of the book I don't think this is a spoiler, since it is heavily, heavily foreshadowed.

    The problem is that it is pretty obvious what it is and connects to the other negative. The counterargument I keep telling myself is that all the characters are flawed so it is not as if its portraying "straight" characters as saints, and that abortion was a messy, dangerous procedure during the time, so the lingering focus on its negative effects is supportable. It does seem to negatively present anyone that enjoys sex without having a deep, emotional connection to their partner. His role is to be precious and cute.

    Given the timeline, the equal might flesh his character out more. For a text that has multiple female characters muse on how society oppresses them, it was a little annoying to have such a positive portrayal of slavery. They aren't the most graphic scenes, but they were a more vivid than I usually encounter in this genre. I found this a little weird. Will I read more of her work in the future?

    I probably will. I'm debating whether or not want to read the prequel or the sequel. The backstory for this novel isn't that intriguing to me, and while Alice is a delightful secondary character, I'm not very excited about having her as the center of an entire book. I am curious about the sequel, but the publisher's description is rather dull. View 1 comment. Jul 05, Naksed rated it it was amazing Shelves: hero-is-a-big-fat-jerk , historical-fiction , love-triangle , soap-opera , can-t-put-it-down , get-out-your-hankies , manwhore-gets-the-virgin , hot-as-hell , humor , traitorous-body-alert.

    Through a glass darkly , by Karleen Koen, is a profoundly depressing, gorgeously written, epic historical fiction set in the beginning of the 18th century in England and France. This story will rip your heart out so beware, before you dive in. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. In the beginning of this novel, we meet fifteen year old Barbara Alderley, the cherished grandchild of illustrious English nobility, the Duke and Duchess of Tamworth.

    She s Through a glass darkly , by Karleen Koen, is a profoundly depressing, gorgeously written, epic historical fiction set in the beginning of the 18th century in England and France. She stubbornly sets out to become the bride of her grandfather's former military aide, the dashing Roger Montgeoffry, Earl Devane. Though he is forty two years old and this would be a marriage of convenience, at least on his part, since he is coveting her dowry, Barbara has been in love with him since she was a child.

    A blind, faithful, arrogantly optimistic love that only a child can believe in. I will MAKE him fall in love with me, Barbara repeats as mantra to the concerned objections of her family. What awaits her is, naturally, very different from her youthful and pure ideal of love. For now we see through a glass, darkly As the novel takes us throughout the next five years of her life, Barbara realizes that love, which she thought was something concrete that she could hold in the palm of her hand and protect in the warmth of her body, is nothing but an illusion, a mere reflection on a mirror, some murky and unattainable image that is almost impossible to decipher through the distortion of a polished surface.

    The novel is an illustration of the Bible verse from which its title is derived, Corinthian 13, a passage that depicts the paradox of the necessity and importance of love without which life is nothing, as well as its unattainable nature. It is also a glorious and epic family saga involving a multitude of secondary characters, each richly defined, and interesting enough to follow along their distinctivesubplots.

    The characters of the matriarchs of the Tamworth family, the no nonsense dowager Duchess Alice, and her irritatingly self-righteous, social parvenu, daughter-in-law Abigail, in particular, were stellar. The villains, embodied by Barbara's flighty, narcissistic mother Diana, and the other [unnamed due to spoiler] character who is Barbara's principal nemesis and rival for Roger's affection, are able to take you from the deepest loathing to the most poignant empathy.

    Throughout it all, the author has created one of the best portraits of life in the early s in England and France, including weaving a feminist narrative on the plight of women of the upper, middle, and lower classes, without "hammering your head with it" as the author herself commented. The portrayal of a France as corrupt and debauched as the last days of the Roman empire, and an England on the brink of a financial crisis created by speculation, insider trading and a bubble that is about to burst, could not be more relevant to our own contemporary times.

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    There is really so much to say about this book, which has been unfairly and quite mistakenly referred to as a "dressed-up" bodice-ripper. This was by far my favorite read of this year. View all 7 comments. Dec 10, Amy Bruno rated it it was amazing Shelves: historical-fiction. This is one of the books that when you read it, you could just kick yourself in the shin for not reading it sooner! I LOVE drama and this book did not disappoint. Barbara and her siblings were raised by her grandmother, the Duchess of Tamworth.

    Her mother, Diana, being too selfish and caught up in her own drama to worry about the children she bore and her father has just left the family, taking the money with him. What Barbara does not know is that she is part of a deal her mother has concocted. The story goes on to follow Barbara as she moves to London and marries Roger. She quickly grows up when surrounded by the deception and cruelty of the English and French courts.

    I really enjoyed this novel. Koen paints a very pretty picture through her words and you as the reader feel like you are right there with Barbara through all of her ups and downs. What was interesting to me was watching as Barbara tried to stay true to herself and her beliefs amidst the licentiousness of court. The love between Barbara and Roger was beautifully written, so much so, that you could feel it in your heart.

    One word of caution: have plenty of tissues ready when you are near the end and if you do cry, then do in a separate room as your husband or he will more than likely make fun of you, like mine. Bottom line: I highly recommend this book to all historical fiction fans! Song: Torch by Alanis Morissette Favorite lines: When you can no longer taste the divine nectar of life, when love no longer exists, then life is death. Forgiveness: It is never done well in little bits and dabs. Do it all at once and never look back, or do not do it at all.

    Change is an easy thing to decide and a difficult thing to do.

    Ingmar Bergman

    It is the day-to-day struggle of it that defeats people. Do not despair if old ways look good to you. Despair only if you fall into them too often. Aug 05, Kelly rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction. Someone called this a "bodice ripper" in another review. Hm -- I think that person needs to read an actual bodice ripper and then think again. I read this on my honeymoon in It's just a great read with interesting characters and great settings. It's a book I will take on vacation for a reread.

    Jan 18, Jenny Q rated it it was amazing Shelves: historical-fiction-faves , best-of , my-favorite-reads. The title comes from a Bible verse: When I was a child, I spake as a child. I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

    I Corinthians And from this verse flows the essence of the story of Barbara: a young woman with a The title comes from a Bible verse: When I was a child, I spake as a child. I Corinthians And from this verse flows the essence of the story of Barbara: a young woman with an open heart full of dreams and desires, longing to please, to love and be loved with a child's innocence, who comes to know a woman's life and to be known as a woman, amidst the heartache and bitterness of failed expectations, personal tragedy and the duplicity and debauchery of the English and French courts.

    England, Barbara is the sheltered granddaughter of the late Duke of Tamworth, one of England's most famous military heroes. With a traitorous father on the run and a scandalous, uninterested mother, Barbara and her siblings have been raised by their grandmother, the Duchess, an iron-willed woman who strikes fear in the hearts of those who oppose her, and will go to any lengths to aid those whom she loves. Barbara is content to spend her days happy and carefree on her grandmother's secluded country estate until her money-scheming mother arrives and plants the idea in her head that she could marry her childhood idol, the dashing, worldly, and much older Roger Montgeoffrey.

    Barbara latches on to that idea and moves to London, spinning grand dreams of her future and enlisting her grandmother's help to see those dreams to fruition. Though Barbara is young and unknowing in many ways, she is aware from the beginning that Roger marries her out of respect for her grandfather and for the dowry she brings him, but she is determined to make a place for herself in his life and in his heart. Roger, a rising investment star in the infamous South Sea Company, has plans for his life, and though Barbara is an unexpected and intriguing addition to that life, he's not planning on making any significant changes.

    As soon as they're married, he and Barbara are off to France, where Barbara makes her debut in society amidst a decadent and licentious French court. In this world of sex and scandal, Barbara is left to her own counsel and must choose how to conduct herself, all the while striving to hold her husband's attention, praying for him to return even a fraction of the love she feels for him. And just when it seems she's about to get everything she wants, tragedy strikes Barbara's family and Roger's hidden past sweeps into Paris. And as he succumbs to the temptations of his dark secrets, Barbara's life crumbles around her.

    Attempting to pick up the pieces, Barbara embarks on a journey of discovering who she is and who she wants to be. This book is one of those slow burners that takes its time to draw the reader into a sensuous world of compelling characters. It is a beautifully written coming of age story, love story, and family saga rolled into one; a heart-wrenching portrayal of emotions, of the damage people can inflict upon each other; of human nature in every shade, where nothing is black and white. The outstanding cast of supporting characters adds dimension and layers to the story and the lushly depicted era of opulence, political unrest, and financial instability of England and France weaves a rich historical texture throughout.

    I loved every minute of this book, and I cried my way through the last hundred pages. Then, after I got hold of myself, I went right out to the library and picked up the sequel. This is one of those books that kept me up late and then woke me in the middle of the night - I could not stop thinking about it. Definite Keeper Shelf. Highly recommended to fans of emotionally charged, character-driven historical fiction. View all 4 comments.

    Through a Glass Darkly - Wikipedia

    I loved the first two thirds of this book. Other memorable characters for me included the mad old cackling aunts; Carlyle, the flamboyant, gossiping stirrer who gets camper by the minute; and Philippe, the cruel, calculating long-lost friend of Roger, who carries a secret that will haunt Barbara forever. An easy 5 stars.

    It got too serious, the sparkle vanished, the riotous plotting dulled, the whole mood became one of doom and gloom. It wasn't what I was expecting at all and I felt let down after being so caught up in all the earlier antics. View all 8 comments. Jan 24, Denise rated it did not like it Shelves: depressing-as-hell. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I am so depressed after reading this. I don't think I have ever read anything more depressing. It seemed to be well researched, but my guess would be that the author chose only the unknown things that would shock people.

    Like a french princess who was so vile and filthy that she reeked. She burped loudly in front of anyone, her teeth were rotten and she felt herself above a chamber pot so she would relieve herself standing wherever she was. But that had nothing at all to do with the plot. I I am so depressed after reading this. I really need to read something light and cleansing now.

    But I can't help to wonder how many actually desperately wanted their chosen man. They are not mature, period! Well this man was deeply, madly in love with his future 15 year old brides grandfather! So he wants this girl because she has her grandfather's smile. Never-mind that he does finally start to fall in love with his 15 year old bride, but once things start looking up for her, he runs into a prince that he had a torrid love affair with.

    Yeah of course they start that up again. Plus all the other whoring going on including orgies threesomes not descriptive like erotica, but not closed door entirely. While that is going on, the girls 4 little siblings that she loves with all her poor little heart, get the small pox and die. The author gives us vivid descriptions on what a body goes through with that along with what a face looks like while sections of it are falling off the little babies.

    And love? Everyone in this story, and there were many players, were in love with someone, but in every situation that love was not returned. What I don't understand, is how the men all went to orgies and whores and such, but no one had any kind of std. Jun 04, Jana Brown rated it did not like it Shelves: romance , steamy , female-protagonist , historical-fiction , dnf.

    Through a Glass Darkly

    I am apparently in the middle of a bunch of 'not as good as I wanted it to be' books. I got this as a free ebook and picked it up out of curiosity, looking for a Georgette Heyer type read. Light and romantic with the historical backdrop and some good characters. This thing is a page monster and from the get go it slogs. The descriptions are over the top and often drag out for pages when it's not necessary, which is a shame because there are some focused descriptions which were lovely and mad I am apparently in the middle of a bunch of 'not as good as I wanted it to be' books.

    The descriptions are over the top and often drag out for pages when it's not necessary, which is a shame because there are some focused descriptions which were lovely and made me miss England. It just seemed the author had to put in every little historical snippet she could come up everywhere. The story is that of 15 year old Barbara, her family and the cad she loves and is married to who then cheats on her, a lot and with another man, and so she goes from innocent to almost as bad as her 'titled whore' mother.

    I didn't read the last pages because I was already tired of the increasing sexual content and the fact that everyone except for Barbara's grandmother was pretty much immoral and very often mean.

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    I found a synopsis and in the end very few people live happily in any form May 31, Rachel M rated it it was ok. When a book written about the year has a character blurting, "I shall be right back," you know you are about to get a mixed bag of history and modern culture. The book was peppered with these little modern colloquialisms - not enough to cause me to stop reading, exactly, but enough to pull me out of the illusion of the past. It makes me think of the Pride and Prejudice, the scene in which Elizabeth When a book written about the year has a character blurting, "I shall be right back," you know you are about to get a mixed bag of history and modern culture.

    It makes me think of the Pride and Prejudice, the scene in which Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meet walking outside in their nightgowns, and express no surprise or shock at seeing each other this way. Had something like this happened in Jane Austen's day, it would have been a cause for scandal, and the fact that the occurence was not treated as it would have been made the film a lot less believable. Ironically, Koen was particularly careful with every other historical detail- I was often amazed at the kernels of information I learned about everyday things in the time.

    So how did the language itself escape this careful scrutiny? Dec 30, Sarah Mac rated it it was ok Shelves: zzz , read-regifted , dnf-rubbish-flounce-goodbye , drank-the-haterade , reviewed , zzzleftovers-completed , sheep-tsunami , tedious-lint-picking. DNF, pg something. I just don't care, y'all. Sometimes OTT can cut a swathe of awesome through family sagas, but not this time. Final verdict: another so-called classic historical romance that leaves me cold.

    When I first read this, I was 13 and loved the huge secret surrounding Roger and the sex and all the twagedy and dwama. It was a solid 5 stars. Then I re-read it or tried to, rather about 15 years later and was bored out of my skull. Don't know what happened in the meantime, but it's one of those books that probably should have stayed on my shelf and let memories suffice. Even before I re-read this, I had never gotten around to read Now Face to Face , and after this disappointing experience, bo When I first read this, I was 13 and loved the huge secret surrounding Roger and the sex and all the twagedy and dwama.

    Even before I re-read this, I had never gotten around to read Now Face to Face , and after this disappointing experience, both that and Dark Angels got sacrificed to the swapping gods. What a horrible, nasty book this has been and I couldn't put it down. Now my tissue box is empty and my face is swollen.

    The book I have, must be a size 4 font. My eyes are not what they use to be, so I've struggled to read this over the past week or so. As with many long book pages of tiny print it takes time to figure out who each character is, as there are an abundance of them. The reading can go slowly as I'm figuring out relatives and friends, and each position they hold to the main ch What a horrible, nasty book this has been and I couldn't put it down. The reading can go slowly as I'm figuring out relatives and friends, and each position they hold to the main character. Diana has me so furious with her greed, when Barbara wanted to marry Roger I almost stopped reading it.

    Plus, Roger didn't fight for her and no one told Barbara anything. But then, we are all sickened by Roger's ways later anyways, accept he continuously holds a place in our hearts due to Barbara's innocence and love for him. Then, after reading One by one, after entering their lives and not being able to put down this book each day, I read of their deaths and cursing this infernal book. I have too much to do, I can't be red eyed and weepy, and why must they all die? It's a book, Karleen doesn't have to kill off all these fictional characters I've been living with and getting to know for days now.

    Yes, I cursed this book a few times. The Duchess Alice really kept me reading this book. Oh, if each of us could have a Grandmother like that close to us all. How she lived through the death of all those children though Barbara always means well, but it just doesn't work out well for her and she is continuously hurt. I wish she'd love Tony and marry him, but he loves her, but she doesn't love him, which I find sad.

    He'd make her a good husband, but he doesn't have the fire she needs. Hyacinth is a girl's name, not a boys I think. I really felt for him when he came to work for her and very glad he not only had Barbara but Therese and the pups. Since neither Therese or Barbara had a babe, he sort of filled a spot in their hearts. I know Charles loves Barbara, but I'm glad he married Mary. I don't believe he was right for her.. I actually have about 10 more pages for this book to read. In verse 18, the phrase "looking glass" is translated from the Hebrew reiy , which means a mirror or looking glass.

    Ancient mirrors were not made of glass but were fashioned from metal. The New International Bible translates "strong, and as a molten looking glass" as "hard as a mirror of cast bronze. In the New Testament, the word "glass" is translated from the Greek word esoptron. This is the word used in 1 Corinthians , and it also means a looking glass or mirror.

    Paul was not speaking of looking through a darkened piece of glass. He spoke of seeing a reflected image. James For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:. It is interesting to realize that no person ever sees his own face. What he sees in a mirror is a backward reflection.

    A portrait painting or a photograph is not backward, but it is still only a two-dimensional image. A sculpture has three dimensions but it produces a likeness that has no counterpart in real life. A sculpture is an image of an object frozen in a moment of time. The book of Revelation speaks of glass as opposed to a looking glass "like unto crystal" in describing the throne room of God.

    Revelation And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. Revelation And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.

    Revelation And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. Revelation And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. But to reiterate the point, the glass spoken of in 1 Corinthians 13 is not transparent glass; it is a reflective mirror. The biblical expression "dark saying" is another phrase easily misinterpreted. A dark saying is not sinister. It is a saying with a hidden meaning. Once the meaning is revealed, it is no longer dark.

    All parables are "dark sayings" until they are interpreted. Psalm I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp. Psalm I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:. Proverbs To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. Matthew 10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? Psalm The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. Mark — 22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.

    Christians see like the blind man after Jesus ministered to him the first time. He saw men as trees walking. Christians see, but their spiritual vision is far from complete. When Christ returns, he will fully open man's spiritual eyes. For the time being, a Christian's spiritual eyesight is limited.


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