Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Deliciously Different Book Reviews

I finished reading the following books in the space of a few days:

Evolving in Monkey Town

by Rachel Held Evans. This book was given to me by a family member who said that instead of giving out tracts, they give out books. My wife has been following this author's blog for some time and had also wanted to read it.

Heaven is for Real

by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. Michelle picked this up at the thrift store the other day; I had heard a bit about it and wanted to give it a read. Michelle thought it was funny that it was the first book I picked up over the other three Ted Dekker books I had chosen. (puns intended, Ted Dekker fans)

Some Comparisons

These books have many similarities. They are both written by Evangelical Christians. They are both centered around topics of faith and belief. I find both authors to be humble in the presentation of their work. I find both to be well-written, engaging, not too heavy; enjoyable. And both use their subject's uniqueness to draw the reader in with curiosity.

Some Differences

As you can tell from the titles, the subjects of faith are different. Rachel Evans discusses her journey from a conservative apologist to an open-minded believer who's no longer afraid of the difficult questions. Using the example of the Scopes Monkey Trial that took place in her hometown before she was born (which fined a professor for teaching evolution but also seemed to poke some holes in the Creationist doctrine), Rachel describes how faith itself must evolve to survive. I identified with the author because she is only a year younger than myself and had similar experiences learning about God in school and Bible College. Lately I've been finding my faith stretched as I am confronted with some of the grey areas of my theology. The answers aren't always as clear as they used to be, and I am encouraged to live in the questions a bit more.

Todd Burpo's story about his pre-schooler who experienced heaven firsthand during a near-death experience is very interesting. For those of us who dream of going to heaven someday, it is very encouraging. For the skeptics and the people whose faith is evolving (see above) and don't know what to believe any more, it is still encouraging because it offers confirmation to some of the church's common teachings about God, His Love, and what children can teach us. Personally I had a bit more patience with my own pre-schoolers tonight when they took a few hours to settle down to sleep, because between the yelling for 'Daddy!' and the complaints about things hurting, etc, I was reading about a man who almost lost his young son in a hospital. (Now whenever my kids have the flu, I'll be scared it's appendicitis. Incidentally, I thought I had appendicitis once and went to ER for it but it turned out to be some other stomach pain.)


They're both good reads. Read them! (Especially if you get them for free or for under $3) Let God speak to you through the authors' vulnerability and humanity. Learn from their wisdom and mistakes. Grow closer to "Jesus and his Dad."