Dream With Me – A Book Review

John M. Perkins was born to sharecroppers in Mississippi in 1930.  His mother died when he was a baby and his father abandoned the family, so he was raised by his grandmother and other extended family members. At the age of 17, after his older brother was murdered by a town marshall, John ran away to California. About thirty years later his son, Spencer, led him to Christ and a short time later he returned to Mississippi with his wife, Vera Mae and their children in order to minister to the people there. They started a foundation called The John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation which they still lead today.

Dream With Me: Race, Love and the Struggle We Must Win is a memoir of struggle, hope and determination. It is a truly beautiful book by a remarkable man who made a significant impact on our nation’s history. Mr. Perkins interweaves his own personal story and struggle with wisdom he’s learned in his almost 60 years of ministry. In this book, his voice is firm yet tender and comes across as both authentic and impassioned. His insights into America’s racial divide are deep and powerful. Mr. Perkins paints a picture of a better future for those among the margins – not only racially, but financially. This book isn’t necessarily a roadmap about how to get to the reconciliation that desperately needs to happen, but it does make you believe that it is possible. In sharing story after story from his own life about enlightenment, change and reconciliation, Mr. Perkins gives us a wisdom that can only be gathered from years of mistakes and heartbreak. He pours out his own pain on the pages and allows the reader to learn from his journey in a way that is raw, real and truly beautiful.

I take from this book a desire to know more about John M. Perkins, a longing to see his dream become reality and a greater understanding of where we’ve come from as a country and where we might be able to go. This book is an inspiration for all who yearn for both justice and grace. There are so many lessons to be taken from this book and I highly recommend it!

My Favorite Quotables from Dream With Me By John M. Perkins:

“God’s love and justice come together in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, and we can’t be about one and not the other. They’re inextricably connected.” p 29

“Love is the first, middle and final fight.” p 30

“Once you know their hurts and feel their pain, your neighbors’ issues become yours too.” p 75

“The oppressed already have a voice; the problem is that no one is listening.” p 75

“Our unity – our reconciliation – bears witness to the world of the surpassing love of God in Jesus Christ.” p 84

“Both sides are yelling too loudly to listen to one another. We have accommodated the racism and the segregation in society for so long that we have lost our ability to hear or understand one another.” p 105

“I believe in the inherent dignity of all human beings. The Bible states clearly that God created men and women in His image from the very beginning. No matter how damaged people become, they still bear that image. No matter how much people have been oppressed or how much they have oppressed others, the part of them made in His image is worth rescuing and restoring. Since we all inherently bear this image, we also inherently have dignity. We do not give people dignity; God gives it to them, but we must work to affirm it in others and ourselves.” p 129

“Dignity has always been part of the justice equation.” p 135

“Love is most powerful when it is unexpected – and when it does not come cheaply.” p 148

“A free society cannot exist for long if too many people in that society put their own image above that of their community.” p 167

“During my lifetime, I fear that more people have seen the church as a messy contradiction defined by division and hot-button issues than have seen it as a prophetic voice living out the gospel. Most people outside the church see it as estranged regarding issues of race, economics, sexuality, and so many other things. They see the church as a place that condemns, rather than loves. They hear the voice of the church speaking a language of hate, rather than a language of redemption and reconciliation. We have lost the fullness of the gospel.” p 188

“The fullness and adequacy of the gospel is a message of togetherness and love across ethnic barriers.” p 197

“In the midst of seeking and telling truth, we find God’s presence.” p 197

kim

 

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Baker Books Bloggers.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

The Gatekeepers – A Book Review

As a political junkie, I absolutely loved The Gatekeepers. Chris Whipple takes you inside the white house of the last 50 or so years, giving you a rare look into how our executive branch functions.  With superior writing and incredible insight, The Gatekeepers is truly a must read for anyone with any interest in politics, government or even the occasional white house gossip. There are so many interesting insights into the exclusive group of men that served as White House Chief.

From Nixon and the Watergate scandal to the Obama years and everything in between, Chris Whipple gives us a glimpse into the minds and lives of the most powerful men in Washington’s more recent history.  Each chapter’s title is a quirky little nod to the chief (or chiefs) of staff represented in the chapter – nicknames, jokes, mistakes made – all memorable, all unique and special.

More than a simple history review, The Gatekeepers is filled with lessons of leadership, ego, humility, preparedness and so much more. The wisdom represented in these pages serve as a roadmap for future leaders – especially anyone who finds themselves leading from the second chair. There is an interesting perspective represented in this book that sheds light on what was, or was not, able to be accomplished throughout each president’s terms in office based on who held the office of chief of staff. It truly is remarkable the impact each of these men have had on American history.

I enjoyed this book even more than I expected to due to the tremendous quality of writing and the humor strewn throughout. It will whet your appetite and leave you wanting more. It is both informative and fascinating, an easy read and incredibly thorough – a political page turner that I enjoyed immensely and highly recommend.

 

kim

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from BloggingforBooks.com for the purposes of this review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own

Tranquility – A Book Review

Tranquility: A Prayer and Reflection Coloring Journal is filled with scripture, journaling prompts, inspirational thoughts and prayers and beautiful artwork.  There are over 100 pages that guide the reader in thoughtful reflection and provide an opportunity to journal prayers and thoughts. The majority of this journal is focused on finding peace, comfort and assurance – there are several verses focusing on fear, contentment, and many verses centering on peace.  There are also quite a few pages focusing on music or worship as a way to calm an anxious heart – which I particularly love.

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Tyndall’s Living Expressions Collection (www.livingexpressionscollection.com) also has another coloring journal, and several other lovely books and journals that are equally beautiful – including journaling Bibles with beautiful illustrations throughout.

I have reviewed two other coloring journals from this line.  You can check out those reviews below.

All is Bright – A Book Review

Gratitude: A Prayer and Praise Coloring Journal – A Book Review

 

Tyndale Blog Network

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

The Way of Letting Go – A Book Review

Refreshingly authentic and vulnerable, The Way of Letting Go, by Wilma Derksen is a moving story of a woman, a mother, in the midst of unimaginable pain. The writing is superb. So superb that it often reads more like a chilling novel than a memoir. The wisdom and humility in the author’s words are both surprising and inspiring. To read the details of her daughter’s gruesome murder is difficult at times, but I found myself wanting to know what happened – not from some deprived curiosity, but because I found myself connecting to the heart of the mother so intensely that I wanted to hear her heart more fully – and to do that required a better understanding of her intense pain. As a mother, this book was difficult to read at times, but it was also surprisingly encouraging.

This book is about so much more than one woman’s story of grief. It’s about healing and forgiveness. It’s about self-discovery and faith. It’s about learning to live again after the unimaginable happens. I cannot tell you how deeply moved I was by this book – it created an intense emotional response that I was not expecting.  Anyone who has ever experienced grief can find some beautiful healing in these pages.  This is a book that speaks not only to the heart, but also to the soul.

Some of my favorite Quotables from The Way of Letting Go by Wilma Derksen:

“Finding our own words for what happened is our way of healing and becoming integrated again.” (p57)

“I had to let go of the need to find a happy ending to my story. I had to let go of my perfect story – and write the story that was happening to me.” (p60)

“Privileged are they who deliberately discard that panic of self-preservation and fear and dare to live life on the edge for others. Our souls will ultimately be saved if we risk it all for love.” (p67)

“The experience of violence or any kind of injustice reorders the sense of self. It devastate our identity. Our values, interests, lifestyle, attitudes, and habits can be so drastically altered that we almost become unrecognizable. … But for the most part, when something drastically changes our identity, whenever we find ourselves wondering “Who am I?” or “What are people thinking of me now?” we can lose confidence to move forward.  We become traumatized in a different way. It’s not easy to find ourselves again.” (p98)

“In the end, we are only responsible for our end of this victim-offender trauma bond. We can only control the end we are holding.” (p135)

“forgiveness doesn’t need to be defined to be lived and felt.” (p155)

“Gratitude is the last powerful light that drives away the darkness.” (p163)

“Letting go isn’t easy. It isn’t a one-time decision. It is a long process, and even though it is integral to forgiveness, it doesn’t end there. The process itself is the most important part of the pain of being wounded in the first place. It is the learning, growing, accepting of reality, of loss, of pain.” (p173)

“There are so many ways to tell our story, and the more ways we do it, the more we learn.” (p176)

“That’s forgiveness: when our hearts are more full than they are empty.” (p180)

“Forgiveness was something we did in the privacy of our hearts – letting go and choosing love.” (p186)

“Compassion is the essence of community.  Without it, we cannot heal ourselves or our relationships.” (p189)

“put love first, justice second.” (p193)

“When we move against the norm and reach for the counterintuitive lifestyle of forgiveness, we gain a powerful guide who is capable of doing miracles.” (p204)

“Forgiveness is an autonomous decision.  It is not dependent on the response of the other.  It is a lifestyle.” (p207)

kim

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 < http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

Nothing to Fear – A Book Review

If I had read Nothing to Fear by Barry C Black about fifteen or twenty years ago I would have liked it quite a bit more than I did.  I simply have read too many amazing books since then, and this one just couldn’t compete.  It’s a simple book about a hundred different topics.  While there is nothing particularly remarkable about this book, it is well-written and easy to read and understand.  I did not, however, enjoy this book at this time.  I couldn’t figure out what the purpose of the book was.  The title is “Nothing to Fear”, but this didn’t feel like a book about fear.  It felt like a huge brain dump of everything Mr. Black feels or thinks about God, faith and prayer.  It’s very wide in scope, which can sometimes be a good thing.  In this case, however, it felt confusing and it was difficult for me to get engaged.

Structurally the book is laid out like a series of sermons including chapter headings such as “Prepare to Be Sent” or “Thrive in a Predatory World”.  Each chapter includes several of what Mr. Black calls “fearless principles” and each chapter ends with a “purposeful prayer”.  At the end of the book there is a discussion guide.

There’s nothing wrong with this book from my perspective.  I didn’t read anything that I didn’t agree with.  I simply didn’t read anything that made me want to say “YES!” or that made me want to share the information with anyone else.  I like to read books that make me think, help me with something I struggle with, grow my faith, help me to understand someone else’s perspective, or grow my understanding of a particular topic.  This book didn’t do any of that for me.

I can see how this book could be a great resource for new pastors looking for sermon material.  It could also be a great resource for newer Christians who want to know some of the basic ideas or beliefs of the Christian faith (although I would also say that this has a very significant Baptist slant in terms of theology).

Overall, it’s well-written but very basic.  I wish Mr. Black had chosen one main theme to write about rather than trying to cover everything all in one book.  This wasn’t my favorite book I’ve read, but definitely wasn’t the worst either – kind of middle of the road for me.

kim

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Walking on Water – A Book Review

Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle was such a thought-provoking and encouraging read for me.  Not only is it beautifully written, it’s also very philosophical.  This book made me think about things I have never contemplated before.  The intersectionality between faith and art is the main theme of Walking on Water, and that concept contains so much more than I expected it to.  Thoughts on vulnerability, love, creativity, prayer, writing, holiness, truth, worthiness, faithfulness, and much more fill the pages of this book.  It raises as many questions as it answers and leaves the reader in a state of wonder, which I absolutely loved.

Madeleine L’Engle has a very mature and thoughtful writing style that is quite refreshing.  Nothing about this book is light hearted, it’s thick with deep thoughts and beautiful insights.  Because the subject matter is more philosophical and heavy, it took me quite a while to finish it.  I had to chew on much of it before I could move on to the next page or chapter.  Often I rush through books like this one so that I can move on to the next book, but this one was so good I just couldn’t.  I wanted to give it the time and attention it deserved.

I very highly recommend this book.  If you are an artist of any sort, you’ll especially appreciate it.

 

Some of my favorite Quotables from Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle:

“When I am constantly running there is no time for being.  When there is no time for being there is no time for for listening.” (p3)

“God is always calling on us to do the impossible.  It helps me to remember that anything Jesus did during his life here on earth is something we should be able to do, too.” (p9)

“We live by revelation, as Christians, as artists, which means that we must be careful never to get set into rigid molds.  The minute we begin to think we know all the answers, we forget the questions,” (p23)

“There is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the Incarnation.” (p42)

“We write, we make music, we draw pictures, because we are listening for meaning, feeling for healing.” (p47)

“I have to try, but  do not have to succeed.  Following Christ has nothing to do with success as the world sees success.  It has to do with love.” (p52)

“we are meant to be real and to see and recognize the real.  We are all more than we know, and that wondrous reality, that wholeness, holiness, is there for all of us, not the qualified only.” (p56)

“we can be humble only when we know that we are God’s children, of infinite value, and eternally loved.” (p60)

“despite the fear and unfaithfulness of his followers, Jesus’ love never faltered, for it was not dependent on the merit and virtue and the qualifications of those he loved.” (p60-61)

“In the act of creativity, the artist lets go the self-control which he normally clings to and is open to riding the wind.” (p66)

“All of life is story, story unravelling and revealing meaning.” (p95)

“to be given a name is an act of intimacy as powerful as any act of love.” (p102)

“It seems that more than ever the compulsion today is to identify, to reduce someone to what is on the label.  To identify is to control, to limit.  To love is to call by name and so open the wide gates of creativity.” (p102-103)

“We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.” (p113)

“We need the prayers of words, yes; the words are the path to contemplation; but the deepest communion with God is beyond words, on the other side of silence.” (p119)

“In a day when we are taught to look for easy solutions, it is not always easy to hold on to that most difficult one of all, love.” (p144)

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from BloggingforBooks.com for the purposes of this review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own

 

kim

No More Faking Fine – A Book Review

Many of us wonder while in difficult circumstances or trying times what the purpose is – as in, why we are experiencing what we are experiencing.  I can imagine that Esther Fleece wondered that many, many times.  I’m not certain that we ever get a full understanding of the why of our circumstances.  I’m not even certain that there always is a why.

In No More Faking Fine, Esther Fleece tells her story.  She is both a skilled writer and an emotional storyteller.  My story has very little similarity to hers, but my feelings throughout my journey echo hers in so many ways.  The desires to be known and loved are universal feelings.  The pain of betrayal, abandonment and abuse are also universal.  This book deals with all of those things in such a tender and wise way.

The title of the book led me to assume that this was a book about authenticity, and it sort of is.  But mostly it’s about lament.  Now, I should admit that before this book I knew very little about lament.  I couldn’t have defined it and I would never have said that lament was a part of my life (or even that it should be).  After reading No More Faking Fine, I am convinced that lament is possibly the most important thing I never knew I needed.

No More Faking Fine is broken into 11 chapters separated into three parts: Faking Fine, A New Way to Pray and To Sing Again.  Each chapter begins with a short scripture verse and ends with a beautiful prayer filled with more scripture references.

This book unearthed things that I had buried deep inside myself and caused me to want to deal with them for the first time in a very long time.  The themes of forgiveness, healing, and repentance are heavily covered in this book.  In fact, if there could be only one thing I take away from this book it will be the idea that forgiveness is not possible without lament.  This one concept may change my life – I pray that it does. Here are my favorite quotes from the section on forgiveness:

“I am convinced we cannot forgive offenses without first lamenting those offenses appropriately.  We need the grace of God, the example of Christ, and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us look favorably upon a person who has wronged us.  And we first need to lament the wrong that has been done to us.” (p160)

“Unprocessed, unforgiven hurt means we still carry it around with us.  It means it still drags us down.  But forgiveness is our invitation to process the pain so we can be authentically freed from it.  Forgiveness is a process of releasing our laments to God.  It is feeling the weight of what this person did to cause you harm, taking this offense directly to God, and telling Him exactly how it made you feel.  We have to lament it, not forget it, in order to move forward.” (p162)

I cannot say why things happen the way they do, why bad things happen, or why people hurt people, but I can say for certain that God can and will use our circumstances to bring hope to others.  He can use our stories to love people, to teach them about His character, and to lead them towards healing and wholeness.  Esther Fleece is bravely doing  exactly that with this book.  I pray that it travels well – into the hearts and lives of those who need it most and that it brings with it the healing power of Jesus over the wounds of those who are hurting.  There are very few books that I believe carry with them the power to mend broken hearts and lives – this is one of them.

Some of my favorite QUOTABLES from No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece:

  • I should note that it took a full 20 minutes to narrow down this list.  There are so many quotables in this book that many of them could spawn new books (and I sincerely hope that they do)!

“For so much of my life, I thought sucking it up and faking away the pain showed true strength.  But real strength is identifying a wound and asking God to enter it.” (p35)

“God’s grace meets us where we are, not where we pretend to be.” (p39)

“It’s okay to not be okay.  God will never ask you to suck it up.” (p41)

“Nothing can prevent our laments from reaching God’s ears.  Even if everyone in the world ignores our cries and minimizes our pain, God hears us.  Neither our offenders nor injustice, nor even death, can silence our lamenting cries to God.” (p71)

“Falsehood does not become truth just because we have believed it for a long time.” (p94)

“My relationship with God isn’t dependent on my performance.” (p101)

“trusting His presence will require faith even in those times when we feel His absence.” (p125)

“Even in the waiting, God is powerfully present, and that can be our source of deep, unshakable joy.” (p141)

“Some of us may be experiencing God’s favor in a palace, while others experience it in a prison.  So let’s practice grace toward each other.  We must be very careful to avoid wrongly attaching someone’s circumstances to the character of their heart or to God’s treatment of them.” (p150)

“When we minimize pain, we also minimize forgiveness.  And when we minimize forgiveness, we minimize healing transformation.” (p165)

“When we fake fine, we run the risk of faking forgiveness – and in doing so, we cut ourselves off from real healing.” (p166)

“Time does not heal all wounds, but time is a gracious gift that allows for wrestling with the pain.  And not one of us made int he image of God is meant to wrestle with our pain alone.” (p171)

 

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 < http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

kim

Falling Free – A Book Review

“The problem with the world is that we draw the circle of our family too small.” – Mother Teresa

I loved this book more than I expected to.  I’m always wary when I pick up a book from an unknown author.  I appreciate excellent writing and, because I read so many books, I have pretty high expectations from writers.  Falling Free by Shannan Martin is absolutely excellent.  Her writing style is polished yet easy to read, funny yet emotional, down to earth yet highly informative; I am truly impressed.  Over and over again, while reading Falling Free, I found myself connecting with a story that is nothing like my own and feeling such a kinship to the author that it truly surprised me.

Falling free is a story about a life turned upside down and inside out.  It’s a story of changed opinions, new understandings and surprising relationships that grew into family.  My story is quite different from Ms. Martin’s, however there were so many of her feelings throughout her journey that echoed my own.  I found myself in her words.  The story is well written and compelling, but the true gold in this book is the lessons she learned along the way and so beautifully shares with her readers – lessons of love, compassion, worship, empathy, grief, fear and so very much more.  Every page of this book contains wisdom that can apply to any life, any journey.

Shannan’s words have stayed with me – they affected me deeply and I sincerely pray that they will continue to stay with me and work on me so that I, like Shannan, will continue to journey towards looking and loving more like Jesus.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Some of my favorite Quotables from Falling Free by Shannan Martin (this was SO hard to narrow down – there are TONS of quotables in this book!):

“We stand in worship services and sing our hearts out about things like faith and trusting God in deep waters.  We say God is all we need, but what we really mean is, ‘All we need is God, our family, the promise of safety, and money.’  … We sing like we meant it while we pray to God we’ll never find out if we really do.” (p 4-5)

“We can mend our broken places into a blanket that covers all of us and call it a family.” (p 39)

“Family was meant to live on a loop, a hazy beginning with no end in sight, the pulsing bass line that God’s kingdom on earth is alive.  Right here.” (p 44)

“There’s a difference between being too scared to do hard things and doing hard things scared.” (p 82)

“Here’s a reality check: we take up precious little square footage in the scope of God’s great kingdom.  Of all the facets of our faith, this might be one of the more difficult to grasp.  It’s also one of the most central.” (p 89)

“Jesus way of humility doesn’t align with our self-made gospel of achievement, and we’re willing to sell our souls at the corner of trying to have both.” (p 89)

“That he came to be with us when he could have kept his post at the right hand of God should send us running breathless into every busted-up city, every barred-up shack, every cave, every cell, every pain-drenched street corner we can find in order to bring the good news.” (p 91)

“God invites us to stare long and hard at our shared ruin, knowing we’ll walk away kindred.” (p 120)

“We can either masquerade as capable earners or fall needy into the arms of a Savior who makes us free.  There is no space within our souls to do both.” (p 183)

“God didn’t structure this world as a badly bent system of Haves and Have Nots.  I was never meant to save a soul, and no one was purposed as a project.  We were meant to be comrades, mutually passing around whatever we have to offer.” (p 199)

I review for BookLook Bloggers

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 < http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

kim

The Bad Habits of Jesus – A Book Review

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To be entirely honest I’m a bit flummoxed by this book.  The Bad Habits of Jesus by Leonard Sweet is not the book I’d hoped for and was so much worse than I imagined it could be.  I struggled all the way through this one.  From the ADHD style of writing to the obsession with alliteration, I had a difficult time figuring out what the book was actually supposed to be about.  I admit that the title grabbed my attention and I wondered where Sweet would go with it, but I was truly disappointed with the book.

Each chapter focuses (sort of) on a “bad habit” of Jesus, which is really just something Jesus did or didn’t do that was different than the norm.  I was particularly annoyed by the chapter about how Jesus spit.  As I read it I wondered if I was just missing the joke or the angle entirely.  It felt a bit tongue in cheek, but in a way that rode the line between annoying and actually funny.  See, that’s the problem, I’m not sure the author was trying to be funny.  But to spend an entire chapter about how Jesus was always disappearing and how rude that was, but how we should emulate him because he’s Jesus was confusing at best and at the very least felt contrived and pointless.  I kept waiting for some profound truth to be dropped, but sadly, none ever was.  Yes, Jesus wasn’t what they expected.  Yes, Jesus did things differently than the people of the time.  Yes, Jesus had different priorities than the people around him.  Did I need to read an entire book about these three pretty obvious ideas?  Nope.

I’ve read so many books this year that were so far superior in quality of writing that The Bad Habits of Jesus was a severe disappointment for me.  Dr. Sweet wrote in circles, very rarely coming to any sort of point.  You know how preachers like to start every point of their sermon with the same letter (to make it easier to remember maybe)?  Sweet did that throughout the whole book – used multiple words with the same beginning letter.  I assume it is the way he teaches, but I found it really annoying. It felt super cheesy, like this one: “Solitude is not solo time but soul time with God.” (p47)

I very much wanted to like this book.  I believe the intentions were good, but the writing is sub-par and it felt like the author’s purposes could have been captured in a much shorter article, rather than an entire book of random ramblings.  I cannot, in good conscience, recommend this book.

 

Tyndale Blog Network

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

The Great Spiritual Migration – A Book Review

I have been eager to read this book since several months before it came out.  Many of the authors that I love have suggested it and raved about it, so I knew I would need to read it.  However, I’ve had several people warn me about Brian McLaren’s more “radical” views about Christianity and the Bible and have even had a few warn me not to read this book.

Since I’ve never been that good with being told what to do, I requested it gleefully.  And it didn’t disappoint.  Considering so many in my immediate circle seemed so concerned about this author, I was expecting to find some really radical things in this book.  Sadly, I didn’t.  I mean, I was hoping to have something jump out at me that I would have to yell back at the pages, “Woah, McLaren!  That’s crazy talk!”.  Nope.  Nothing like that.  Sad face.

There were, however, so many things I wholeheartedly agreed with.  Such as this nugget of wisdom:

“This nondiscriminatory love, Jesus says, is the true perfection, the true maturity toward which we should aspire: to be perfect as God is perfect is to love without discrimination because that is how God loves.” (p 43)

or this one:

“In story after story and without a single exception, we see that the driving motivation in Jesus’s life is love.” (p 44)

or maybe this one:

“God loves everyone.  No exceptions.” (p 51)

Wait, that last one might be a little radical, I guess.

The book is broken up into three parts: Spiritual Migration (from a system of beliefs to a way of life), Theological Migration (from a violent God of domination to a nonviolent God of liberation), and Missional Migration (from organized religion to organizing religion).  There is also a hefty section of Appendices at the back of the book mostly on the topic of “Just and Generous Christianity”.  Each chapter ends with a page broken into three parts (Contemplation, Conversation – which has discussion questions, and Action).  I absolutely loved the questions – I can imagine a very lively and thoughtful discussion coming from these questions.  Example: One of the questions after Chapter Three reads: “Are we more serious about teaching math than we are about teaching love?” (p 67).  I’d love to have a conversation about that one!

I don’t necessarily agree with every single thought expressed by the author, however, I found his argument passionate, compelling and well-researched.  There are so many topics covered in this book that it took me a bit longer to get through than I intended (I was shooting for a week – it took two), but only because I needed to go back to scripture and read other articles and essays on the topics to get a more well-rounded understanding.  Here’s the thing about this book: it asks a ton of questions and it makes you think.  Why do you believe what you believe?  Why do we talk about beliefs more than we talk about faith?  What can we learn from the life of Jesus about love?  What does it mean to have a broken-open heart?  I hate books that tell me that I have to think or believe a certain way.  I love books that make me think – that make me ask questions and assess things in new and fresh ways.  The Great Spiritual Migration is the latter.

A faith that has not been questioned, tested and wrestled with is a weak faith.  Questioning your beliefs does not make them weaker, but rather stronger.  Reading opposing viewpoints (although I’m not sure the author of this book and I stand that far apart) shouldn’t destroy your faith, but rather challenge it – which should lead to a better understanding of what you actually believe.

SO.  I loved this book.  There are so many things I agreed with: the call to unity rather than uniformity, the call to a radical (there’s that word again) and all-inclusive love, the focus on social justice and many other things.  There were a few things I wasn’t so sure about.  However, overall – I came out of this book encouraged, inspired and challenged and that’s a pretty great way to come out of a book!

Here are some of my favorite Quotables from The Great Spiritual Migration by Brian McLaren:

“..you can learn beliefs in isolation, you can’t learn love apart from a community.” (p 56)

“We hear Jesus say ‘Follow me’ eighty-seven times in the four Gospels.  How many times does he say, Worship me?  Zero.  Name a religion after me?  Zero.  Recite a creed about me?  Zero.  Erect buildings in my honor?  Zero.  That’s not to say these things are wrong, but succeeding at them without actually forming followers of Christ is like climbing a ladder that’s leaning against the wrong building.” (p 65)

“..the less aware Christians are of how dangerous Christianity has been, the more dangerous Christianity will be.” (p 71)

“We need to stop pulling apart and start pulling together, converging and collaborating to build a more just, generous, peaceful, regenerative, and joyful world.” (p 156)

“If enough individuals are full of despair and anger in their hearts, there will be violence in the streets.  If enough individuals are full of greed and fear in their hearts, there will be pollution in the rivers and toxins in the air.  If enough individuals are full of supremacy and privilege in their hearts, there will be racism and oppression in society.  You can’t remove the external social symptoms without treating the corresponding internal personal diseases.” (p 167)

“As we work together for the common good, we are all transformed.” (p 176)

“If we simply start moving in faith, what has been impossible can become possible.” (p 178)

“There is so much right in the church, in the world, in humanity.  There is so much good.  And so much beauty.  When we see it, even a tiny glimmer of how precious it is, our hearts swell in gratitude and awe.” (p 180)

 

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from BloggingforBooks.com for the purposes of this review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own

 

kim