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Putting Away Childish Things: A Tale of Modern Faith

3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  459 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
“We all know that Marcus Borg is a gifted teacher, biblical scholar, and writer of nonfiction, but it turns out that he’s a master storyteller, too.”
— Brian D. McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christianity

Bestselling author, Bible scholar, and theologian Marcus Borg (Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, The Heart of Christianity, The Last Week) uses his core teachings
ebook, 368 pages
Published April 20th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2010)
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Aug 14, 2011 Giedra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marcus Borg is a theologian, not a novelist. But when I found this novel as I was browsing juvenile fiction, I thought it would be worth a read. (I even thought, "this isn't juvenile fiction! Why is this here? I must be meant to read it.") His preface calls the work "didactic" and indeed it is. His protagonist, Kate Riley, is a professor of religion at a small liberal arts college, and much of the novel consists of text from handouts she gives to her class and point by point discussion of the po ...more
Dan Wilkinson
In this work of fiction Borg provides insights into the positions and difficulties of modern progressive Christianity. Although overly didactic at times, Borg nevertheless manages to provide an insightful examination of the intersection of faith and modernity, framing theological, philosophical and social issues in an accessible and engaging way. I'm not sure to what extent this story is a successful progressive Christian apologetic; it's doubtful that Borg's concise explanations of the liberal ...more
Jan 01, 2011 Sheri rated it it was ok
Well, the writing was done well. But the material bothered me. If you are a new believer in Christ and have given your life over to Him and need discipleship, this book will lead you in the wrong direction. I know that Christ should be the center of our lives and Kate is a professor teaching religion and saying that the Bible is just stories, representing ideas. There are two characters in the book that are born-again and I give the author a nod for including them in the book. But I am disturbe ...more
Jun 16, 2010 Phil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
It has to be said that, although I understand his premise and motive behind writing the book, there are elements to it that are absolutely grating!

First, and most annoyingly, once a name brand has been established describing an object, it doesn't have to be referred by that name brand every g-d-damned time it's mentioned. A "Guinness" beer--which is highly overrated by people who think that by choosing to like this beer automatically elevates them to some beer-phile status--should simply become
Feb 06, 2011 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Reading fiction has become a rarity for me (except for the occasional sword/spaceship sort of thing). I grabbed this book because I like Marus Borg's nonfiction work, and the story sounded interesting. The author says up front, in the prologue, that the book will be didactic: he intends to teach his truths using a fictional story as his vehicle. With that in mind, much of what I read--the theology part--I had read before in Borg's other books. There were certainly some new insights and ideas, th ...more
Apr 05, 2011 Joy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, fiction
Borg himself describes this book as a "didactic novel" and I think that word is very accurate. The plot revolves around Kate, a Liberal Christian and New Testament professor at a liberal arts college. She's written a popular book about the nativity narratives in the gospel, and has come under fire from colleagues and parents of students who find her either too un-evangelical in her thinking, or too religious. Ah, the perennial dilemma of being a liberal Christians, where neither fundamentalists ...more
Feb 21, 2011 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was SO bad I wish I could give it negative stars since it was a huge waste of my time reading it! I wasn't familiar with the author, but based on the title and a review I read I thought it would be an interesting look at "modern faith" - not so much. Apparently the author's view of "modern faith" is that you can call yourself a Christian and basically not believe the Bible. The book follows Kate, a religion professor at a small liberal arts college. Kate's newest book focuses on the co ...more
Dec 16, 2011 Churchlady rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, my gosh, was I disappointed! I was really expecting to be challenged and intrigued. Granted, Borg informs us from the beginning that this is a "teaching" novel. Teaching, yes. Novel, not so much. The character development was non-existent, there were no surprises. The characters came off as elitist intellectuals who had no interaction outside an academic environment. They were boorish snobs who think that feeling a little guilty equals social justice. The book came off as preachy. I wanted a ...more
Nov 08, 2010 Polly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Despite its didactic tone, Borg talks about lots of interesting ideas in a new way. He isn't a novelist; too often, his characters do or say something because it's important to him, not because they're separate people. A novel isn't the place for 3-page excerpts from text books or several pages of a college lecture. At the same time, I enjoyed looking at how beliefs inform who we are, as well as the conversations between people all along the spectrum of religious thought.
Kim Faires
May 06, 2011 Kim Faires rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Didn't like it at all. The writing wasn't that good and the content was definitely not what I was expecting. the Modern faith part was more about university professors that believed that the bible is more myth than fact. It was way more out of the box than I ever hope to become. Paperback swapped it already....
Mary Lou
Jul 31, 2010 Mary Lou rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andree Sanborn
Apr 23, 2013 Andree Sanborn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: april, 2013
I should probably write this "review" after my impressions have settled down and focused. I read this book because it is by Borg and we have been informally sharing it in Bible Study. I'm all over the place right now about how I feel about the book: the characters are not fully drawn, yet the topic is vital for me. The way the story unfolded kept me wanting to read. Yet the details in the book irritate me.

Your first novel, and this is Borg's first, is autobiographical. And in Putting Away Child
Marcus Borg, famed liberal/progressive theologian who has authored many learned treatises has ventured into the land of fiction. But this is a teacher's novel with the main characters lecturing to students or each other (and the reader) which can be interesting or mind-numbing depending on where you are positioned in the theological spectrum. It is unlikely that readers who have little interest in theology will get very far with this book. It may convert a few conservative Christians to become p ...more
Lee Harmon
May 07, 2011 Lee Harmon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a story about believing, and Borg’s first-ever novel may be among his best books. The main character, Bible scholar and professor Kate Riley, is a progressive Christian with a devotion as strong as any fundamentalist believer.

For a glimpse of how Kate lives as a Christian, we might peek into one of her lectures. In a discussion of whether the story of Adam and Eve is “true,” Kate teaches, “The identification of truth with factuality is a cultural product of the Enlightenment. The success
Apr 24, 2010 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Borg is a very fine New Testament scholar and a good popularizer of liberal theology. I've never been dissappointed by his books.

I am happy to report that Borg's first work of fiction is no exception to this rule. The story is solid and engaging, the plot has an intrinic interest, and - like his non-fiction - the prose is just plain enjoyable. Borg is candid that he is not writing to produce masterpiece fiction here. And indeed, as a work of fiction there are some plot holes, and worse some und
I have not read any of Borg's non-fiction work, but I think I would like it better.
This book has many good, thought provoking ideas. It has a few good storylines. As a novel, however, it is lacking. There are way too many stories going on at the same time. There's Kate's teaching, Kate's dilemma over which school to go to, the liberal Christian study group, The Way group, Marcus's story, Scudder's donor....Even harder for me to tolerate were the characters. Many characters were caricatures, cre
Mar 13, 2011 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity, fiction
I'll be honest and say that I'd like to give this book two different ratings. As a novel, I'd give it only three, maybe 3.5, stars. As a "didatic novel" (what Borg calls it), it rates higher (hence the four stars). So, in the end, I think I really wanted to read a novel, not the latter.

On a personal level, I had a lot in common with the protagonist, Kate--a young introspective professor, who drives a red Volvo! Borg does a good job of developing her character as well as presenting a vivid suppor
Carolyn Lind
My enjoyment of this didactic novel was enhanced by the fact that I had recently read a couple other or his nonfiction books; this novel was a bit like an interesting review of those readings. For readers interested in Borg's theology, this would not be my first recommendation; I would first recommend "The Heart of Christianity" where you can really get to the heart of the theology that is woven through out this novel. In "Putting Away Childish Things" it was interesting to read answers to stude ...more
Jun 13, 2012 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Borg tells a good story - a "page turner." I was driven to understand what adjunct professor Kate would do in confronting some difficult life choices and what she would teach her students about the Bible, modern thought, and meaning. Author Marcus Borg seems to be encouraging readers to not dumb down our pursuit of understanding Jesus, St. Paul, the Bible, the Divine, and other topics about traditional, largely judeo-christian beliefs.

Author Borg seems to desire to avoid slick and easy answers
Apr 01, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One is always a bit cautious when considering a novel written by an academic. Happily in this case those fears prove largely unfounded. As a story this book reads surprisingly well, even considering the author's admission that it is a "teaching" novel. The characters feel real, the conflicts and story lines are far from foregone conclusions, and I found myself caring about what happens next and what decisions the characters would make. The ending (WARNING: MINOR SPOILER) is an ending that yet le ...more
Feb 25, 2015 Janice rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Borg prefaces this work as a "didactic" novel; a teaching novel. And, if the reader is not familiar with the name Marcus Borg, the reader will most likely be disappointed. I personally find this a novel idea. Wrapping his theology among several characters, principally, seminary and academia professors and then having their students wrestle and absorb exposes the reader to both pre and post Enlightenment Christianity, or at least Borg's version.

As a novel, it's not much, perhaps one star. Kate,
Jun 06, 2013 Kristin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith, fiction
Honestly, I wanted to like this more than I did. I've never read any of Borg's non-fiction; I read this for a book group. It didn't lead to very good discussions because there just wasn't a lot of substance to the book. Perhaps if you're a bit like the character Erin - I think that's the sort of person this book is targeting. But I'm no theologian and there just wasn't much here that was new to me. Borg has a point to make, and he sort of hits you over the head with it (even though I agree with ...more
Jan 31, 2012 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith
I hovered between three and four stars on this one, because I wasn't sure if I really liked it because it's the season (Advent-Epiphany-Lent) to do so, or if I just really liked it. I landed on "just really liked it."

Borg's didactic novel (sometimes code for "It's okay that my characters are flat, because they're just a tool I'm using to teach my philosophy" - this novel resembles that remark) was helpful to me in two ways. It helped me streamline some of my own thoughts on the Bible and its use
Mar 12, 2011 Ellyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I love Marcus Borg and was intrigued to find that he'd written a novel. It tells the story of Kate, a religion professor at a liberal arts college who is popular with students but comes under fire for being too Christian in her views and teaching. Meanwhile, she is invited to apply for a one-year visiting professorship at a seminary that brings her back in contact with an old professor who she once had an affair with, and she must decide whether to pursue the job. The book also follows a student ...more
Aug 30, 2016 Shannon rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There is so much wrong with this book...
It is quite disturbing to think of how one can call oneself a Christian, yet completely disregard and disrespect the very Word of God.
I have to sons in college currently. Although their faith is solid, I fear for the vulnerable young people (and adults too) who are so hideously misled by false teachings like are shared in this book.
If a person wants to be "liberal" or "modern" in their walk of faith, then fine. It is your choice to make. BUT, never shoul
Jan 05, 2014 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is basically an overview of Marcus Borg's academic and theological work set within the framework of a novel. Borg himself describes it as a "didactic novel," so maybe that's what he was going for. I have read some of his non-fiction books and definitely prefer them. The storytelling in this book felt flat to me. I got tired of hearing about what the characters in the book were eating, drinking, wearing, and smoking. If those details contributed anything to the characters, they made the ...more
Kathleen Dixon
Aug 29, 2010 Kathleen Dixon rated it really liked it
Borg has done a very good job of writing a novel that brings some good progressive theology into it while clearly being a story about a person of Christian faith.

I enjoyed the key characters - they are fully believable. In fact, having known many of the character types in this novel, I can say that each of them are fully believable.

Borg is maybe a little long-winded in his descriptions of Kate's morning devotions, though that's just my taste; and perhaps a bit pedantic in his other theological d
Patrik Olterman
Not a great work of fiction but an excellent conversation starter. Borg serves the struggles of faith in a very friendly and unthreatening way. Although I do not agree with all the theology presented in the book or the way that conservative fundamentalism is a bit under represented, or perhaps not as richly or deeply portrayed as the progressive people in the book.

I would also like to have seen some alternative progressive views (N.T. Wright, Wolf, Mclaren etc) alongside the views of Borg himse
Frumpy Mum
Nov 24, 2014 Frumpy Mum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this. I work in a University and I enjoyed the exploration of the struggle between academic writing and teaching; the balance between your own views and those that may be acceptable and also the personal relationships within and beyond the department. I could relate to Kate and I found myself agreeing with her approach to Christianity. I was already familiar with Borg as an author and the progressive agenda has opened my eyes to faith in a way that wasn't possible for me in more ...more
May 15, 2011 Helen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this on the recommendation of my pastor, in my search for reconciling my liberal faith with the beliefs of conventional churches, but it really didn't help a lot. So I'm still searching... This was a novel about a professor teaching religious studies in college. She was actually considered an oddity because she considered herself a christian and most of the other professors thought that odd for an educator. Some of the ideas presented (taking the bible more as metaphorical than factual)we ...more
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Borg was born into a Lutheran family of Swedish and Norwegian descent, the youngest of four children. He grew up in the 1940s in North Dakota and attended Concordia College, Moorhead, a small liberal arts school in Moorhead, Minnesota. While at Moorhead he was a columnist for the school paper and held forth as a conservative. After a close reading of the Book of Amos and its overt message of socia ...more
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