What is Zion? This term has several meanings, but the one that applies best to the focus of Novaun Novels is this one: “A place or a religious community regarded as sacredly devoted to God; a city of God” (The American Heritage Dictionary, 1979). This quotation by Saint Augustine expands the idea of a city sacredly devoted to God:

We see then that the two cities were created by two kinds of love: the earthly city was created by self-love reaching the point of contempt for God, the Heavenly City by the love of God carried as far as contempt of self. In fact, the earthly city glories in itself, the Heavenly City glories in the Lord. The former looks for glory from men, the latter finds its highest glory in God, the witness of a good conscience. The earthly lifts up its head in its own glory, the Heavenly City says to its God: ‘My glory; you lift up my head.’ In the former, the lust for domination lords it over its princes as over the nations it subjugates; in the other both those put in authority and those subject to them serve one another in love, the rulers by their counsel, the subjects by obedience. The one city loves its own strength shown in its powerful leaders; the other says to its God, ‘I will love you, my Lord, my strength.’ . . .

In the Heavenly City . . . man’s only wisdom is the devotion which rightly worships the true God, and looks for its reward in the fellowship of the saints, not only holy men but also holy angels, ‘so that God may be all in all.’

Saint Augustine, Concerning the City of God against the Pagans, translated by Henry Bettenson (London: Penguin Books, 2003), 593-594.
Book cover for City of God, by Saint Augustine, translated by Henry Bettenson
City of God

The Bible refers to Zion not only as a dwelling place for holy men and angels, but for God Himself. This prophecy from the Bible also talks about the power of Zion in the Last Days:

The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.

The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.

So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.

For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the Lord dwelleth in Zion.

Joel 3: 15- 17, 21

To dwell in that society of saints, holy angels, holy men, and God, we need to become both willing and worthy of the privilege, which makes that individual sanctification process just as important as the community itself. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, a leader of my own church, said this:

In a world now awash in sexualized images and music, are we free from lustful desires and their attendant evils? Far from pushing the limits of modest dress or indulging in the vicarious immorality of pornography, we are to hunger and thirst after righteousness. To come to Zion, it is not enough for you or me to be somewhat less wicked than others. We are to become not only good but holy men and women.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “Come to Zion,” General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, October 2008. This sermon provides an excellent overview of the Latter-day Saint view of Zion.
Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, translated by Norman Denny
Les Miserables, trans. by Norman Denny

Visionary men and women from various religious and ethnic backgrounds have written about the process individuals and communities undergo in their efforts to become holy and attain Zion, or the city of God. Some write about these matters deliberately; some have other purposes for creating their work and show us the road to Zion inadvertently. Some treatments of this subject are didactic; some are subtle. Some resonate with us personally; some do not. I believe that literature at its best provides the human family with glimpses of the heavenly city and the holiness required to live there. I like to think of the glimpses of Zion I receive from literature being like the facets of a diamond or the colorful chips in a kaleidoscope. One alone may not give us a panoramic view of the heavenly city, but all together they provide a vision of spiritual beauty that can inspire us to rise above the mundane things of the world and attain those of a higher.

Book cover for The Double-Edged Choice, by Katherine Padilla, published by Novaun Novels
The Double-Edged Choice

I hope with my own novels to give you a creative glimpse of Zion. As I say in other places, I don’t write straight apocalyptic fiction. My particular style is to combine prophecy with a generous dose of fantasy. I like the term “alien future” to describe the world I’ve created, because it’s meant more to be a thought-provoking romp in the wild rather than a serious depiction of how prophecy may really be fulfilled. All of my novels are available for free on Novaun Novels, along with more information about me and my work. The blog replaces my “What’s New?” page and will provide you with updates from time to time on my own projects.

The other purpose of Novaun Novels has always been to provide resources to readers who are seeking fiction that is both intelligent and clean. I’ve compiled a list of novels I’ve read that meet “My Clean-Reading Criteria.” My criteria isn’t meant to be a hammer to mold everyone’s reading standards into my own; I designed it to be a measuring stick for purposes of evaluation and communication. As a reader using the list, you can rest assured that the books I recommend will, at the very least, follow the particular criteria I have set.

In the blog I’ll comment briefly on books as I put them on my list or as I re-read books that are already on it. I’ll tell you why I liked the book and how it gave me a glimpse of Zion, if it did. Since I’m also interested in methods authors use to write novels that are as wholesome as they are truthful and real, I may comment on that aspect of the book also. I will rarely tell you what I may not have liked about the book or what ideas or details in it I may disagree with. My comments will not be full reviews but humble “glimpses.”

While I hope to encourage an interest in great literature, be aware that the focus of Novaun Novels is fiction and that not everything I read falls in the category of “great.” Also be aware that I’m no scholar. I’m just a simple girl from Kansas who moved east and traded Oz for D.C. I was never satisfied with the promises of either, which is why I enjoy daydreaming about Zion. I’d love to have you join me!

Book cover for Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House on the Prairie

The featured image came from Pixabay.