In John Coleman’s “Miracles,” his protagonist, Jaime Halasz, is a young, ambitious reporter with a newspaper in Atlanta, Georgia. She is, by nature, skeptical and would not consider herself a person of faith. She is more likely an agnostic, or a nonbeliever.
Her gathering of the facts in this story requires much more than a notepad, a pen, and her phone recorder. What she’s seeing and hearing causes her to continually question what is real and what isn’t. She’s dealing with happenings that are beyond belief. She searches for clear-cut answers and easy explanations of what she is witnessing firsthand.
A River Runs RedThe happenings start with seemingly natural phenomena: bright, dazzling lights flashing in the night sky akin to the aurora borealis and then the Chattahoochee River turns red.
People are awestruck, dumbfounded and thrown into confusion desperately seeking answers. The media is set spinning trying to find those answers; some logical, scientific reason surely can be found. The experts are brought in to help calm the chaos and shed light on what is occurring. The entire city is a witness and soon the world is drawn to these strange events happening in Atlanta, Georgia.
But these freaks of nature are only the beginning to a series of even more startling events: A man walks on water to save a drowning boy; a young girl comes out of a coma; a food shelter's meager supplies multiply to feed a long line of homeless; sick children are healed at a local hospital; a blind woman sees.
Halasz is on to perhaps the breakthrough story of her career. The world is watching. The "miracle man" is an unassuming construction worker named Jairo Morales. His healings are divinely inspired but also seemingly random. Some are touched by these miracles, others are not.
How the World RespondsColeman’s writing style and descriptions are very contemporary. This is a fictional story about miracles that could be happening today. He introduces a variety of characters throughout the chapters from Halasz’s work colleagues to homeless shelter staff and occupants to her gaggle of friends.
Some of the more tender conversations are between Jaime and her mother as she works through the cacophony of what’s happening with the story and where it is taking her on her path in life.
For his narrative, Coleman makes the case that, just as in Jesus’s time, people’s reactions would run the gamut from fear and skepticism to faith and affirmation when confronted with a miracle.
The myriad reactions in response to a supernatural event are at the crux of this story. What would it take to believe? With his protagonist, Coleman approaches it from a viewpoint of secular disbelief. At the same time, he poses the question of whether miracles should compel Christians to question or cause discomfort in their belief.
Coleman creates a lot of tensions with his characters, both inside and out of the Christian community. Miracles test the waters. It’s an easier narrative to explain away miracles and take away the spiritual dimension than to believe that signs and wonders can happen beyond the material world.
For Coleman, exploring the range of people’s reactions to an otherworldly event is a fascinating topic. He uses his fictional characters in a compelling way. Their responses mirror what, I would suspect, you would hear from work colleagues, friends, family or your local pastor. There is a clear disconnect from what we claim to believe and what happens to that belief system when confronted directly with a supernatural, divinely inspired event.
Coleman does believe in miracles and wants to encourage readers to be open to the variety of miracles that take place on a daily basis: not just obvious physical healings but inner healings as well.
How does it all end? What happens to the "miracle man"? What happens to the skeptical reporter? What would it take for the world to believe?