Despite some flashes of brilliance, this was, IMO, the weakest entry into the Odd Thomas series. Thin story interspersed between large chunks of chatt...moreDespite some flashes of brilliance, this was, IMO, the weakest entry into the Odd Thomas series. Thin story interspersed between large chunks of chattiness and existential noodling. Not enough to keep me from finishing the series, but enough to make me hope the next volume has more substance and the lead character limits his philosophical rambling a bit.(less)
The Road meets The Walking Dead. Written in McCarthy's minimalist style, humanity is front-and-center in this tale of a teen orphan's quest for love a...moreThe Road meets The Walking Dead. Written in McCarthy's minimalist style, humanity is front-and-center in this tale of a teen orphan's quest for love and beauty amidst a world of soulless "meatskins" (aka: zombies), and the savagery necessary to survive. The story's sparse, but the writing is, in places, transcendent. Really liked this!(less)
Three-and-a-half stars. Didn't like this one as much as the intro, but Dresden and his world are fairly rich. Nice twist on some of the werewolf lore....moreThree-and-a-half stars. Didn't like this one as much as the intro, but Dresden and his world are fairly rich. Nice twist on some of the werewolf lore. Definitely will keep up w/ the series.(less)
My only real gripe is the author's deconstruction of the "sacred" throughout this work. Fear is portrayed as more of a social phenomenon (sociaphobia)...moreMy only real gripe is the author's deconstruction of the "sacred" throughout this work. Fear is portrayed as more of a social phenomenon (sociaphobia) and religious fear is less the response to Someone truly holy or something Absolutely Moral or Evil, and more a byproduct of cultural mores and folkish whimsy. Other than that, there's lots of interesting insights into horror cinema and its colorful, often freaky, intersections with religion. Four out of five stars. (less)
First foray into Daredevil territory. Loved the graphics, and the care to explain / illustrate DD's power. But the storyline of this particular volume...moreFirst foray into Daredevil territory. Loved the graphics, and the care to explain / illustrate DD's power. But the storyline of this particular volume seemed herky jerky. Three-and-a-half stars.(less)
A dense, detailed, yet fascinating account of the rise of Scientology. Full of celebrity scandal, abuse, espionage, pseudo-science, occultism, sex, an...moreA dense, detailed, yet fascinating account of the rise of Scientology. Full of celebrity scandal, abuse, espionage, pseudo-science, occultism, sex, and power, this tale is almost too hard to believe. Based on numerous interviews with current and former Scientology members, "Going Clear" is meticulously researched, some might say to the point of overkill. Though the author clearly postures himself as objective, it's hard to not see this volume as a resounding incrimination of L. Ron Hubbard's "religion." With information like this available, it's difficult to imagine the Scientology empire has not long ago crumbled. One wonders if something quite diabolical isn't being the tenure. Lack of a consistent narrative, combined with a multitude of players and events, made this book rather choppy and hard to follow. Rounding this up to 4 from 3 and 1/2 stars.(less)
Less of a biblical defense for the Christian Church and its institutions as it is a counter to religious progressives. The authors speak with passion...moreLess of a biblical defense for the Christian Church and its institutions as it is a counter to religious progressives. The authors speak with passion and occasional humor, but the book lacks thematic cohesion. (less)
Rosario Butterfield went from being a professor in Syracuse University’s Women’s Studies Department, an English major specializing in Critical Theory,...moreRosario Butterfield went from being a professor in Syracuse University’s Women’s Studies Department, an English major specializing in Critical Theory, Secret-thoughts-unlikely-convertparticularly Queer Theory, a practicing lesbian who owned two houses with her partner, a political activist and outspoken advocate for numerous gay and lesbian causes, and a “tenured radical,” to being a Christian, heterosexual, married, mother of multiple adoptees and foster children, and pastor’s wife. Her journey, chronicled in this short 150 page book entitled Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, is one of the most compelling testimonies I’ve ever read.
There were no fireworks for this “convert.” No fall on your knees, dangling by the fingertips, come to Jesus moments. The terrain that’s traversed here is spiritual, intellectual, and relational. But the author describes it with humor and candor:
“How do I tell you about my conversion to Christianity without making it sound like an alien abduction or a train wreck? Truth be told, it felt like a little of both. The language normally used to describe this odd miracle does not work for me. I didn’t read one of those tacky self-help books with a thin gentle coating of Christian themes, examine my life against the tenets of the Bible the way one might hold up one car insurance policy against all others and cleanly and logically, ‘make a decision for Christ.’ While I did make choices along this journey, they never felt logical, risk-free, or sane. Neither did I feel like the victim of an emotional / spiritual earthquake and collapse gracefully into the arms of my Savior, like a holy and sanctified Scarlett O’Hara having been ‘claimed by Christ’s irresistible grace.’ Heretical as it may seem, Christ and Christianity seemed eminently resistible.”
Perhaps what I liked best about Butterfield’s testimony is its open-endedness. By that I mean, there’s no simple answers as to how she went from one cultural, ideological, spiritual extreme to the other. Except God’s amazing grace. If you’re looking for an evangelistic blueprint, you won’t find it here. Save for the timely orchestration of events (namely, a non-threatening letter from a local pastor that started the ball rolling), the only real “secret” here is the gracious, patient, non-condemning community of saints to which Butterfield was introduced. These relationships with “genuine” Christians turned her preconceptions, and defenses, on their ear. It’s a beautiful glimpse into the simple power of long-term, loving relationships with non-believers.
Furthermore, if you’re looking for an anti-gay tract, this isn’t it. In fact, Butterfield doesn’t flinch in describing the rich relationship she shared inside the gay and lesbian community, and the heartbreak of having to distance herself from it. She broods, knowing that to openly profess Christ will cost her so many cherished relationships, if not her career. Her decision to publicly speak about her transformation while delivering the Graduate Student Orientation Convocation at Syracuse is utterly captivating. (A copy of her address, entitled “What King Solomon Teaches Those in the Wisdom Business: Active Learning and Active Scholarship,” is included in its entirety and, in my opinion, worth the price of the book.) Along the way, Butterfield walks the tightrope between the Christian community and the LGBT community, immersing herself in Scripture while receiving counsel from a transsexual, ex-Christian minister. It’s a fascinating, gritty glimpse into an intersection of unlikely worldviews.
And in case you think the author is simply pitching Christianity or glossing over the Church’s blemishes, she’s not. In fact, she speaks with brutal honesty.
“Christians always seemed like bad thinkers to me. It seemed that they could maintain their worldview only because they were sheltered from the world’s real problems, like the material structures of poverty and violence and racism. Christians always seemed like bad readers to me, too. They appeared to use the Bible in a way that Marxists would call “vulgar” — that is, common, or, in order to bring the Bible into a conversation to stop the conversation, not deepen it. …Their catch phrases were (and are) equally off-putting. ‘Jesus is the answer’ seemed to me then and now like a tree without a root. Answers come after questions, not before. Answers answer questions in specific and pointed ways, not in sweeping generalizations. ‘It’s such a blessing’ always sounds like a violation of the Third Commandment (“Do not take the Lord’s name in vain”) or a Hallmark card drunk with shmaltz. It seemed to me that the only people who could genuinely be satisfied with this level of reading and thinking were people who didn’t really read or think very much — about life or culture or anything.”
In a way, this is a story about how the Church both alienates and reaches those outside its walls. Butterfield’s conversion from a religion she loathed to one she was baptized into, is full of insights — about culture, academic institutions, adoption, home schooling, sexuality, leadership, etc. The story occasionally bogs down as Butterfield expounds upon her growing membership in the Reformed Presbyterian Church. But never do you get the feel that she’s proselytizing. Or insincere.
Interestingly enough, those on both sides of the aisle have taken some issue with this book. On the one hand are evangelicals who believe Butterfield does not distance herself enough from the LGBT community. On the other sides are those who dispute her conversion as a legitimate “reverse conversion” story. I find these responses fascinating. Butterfield does not make herself out to be (in her own words) “a poster child for gay conversion.” Instead, she speaks about “sexual sin,” pointing out that her struggle to overcome it is no different from anyone else’s.
This short book left me with many questions, but ultimately inspired me to remember that God is still at work, even among those we think the most lost. I highly recommend this book! (less)
I’m not sure I would have read this book if not for the fact that I’m researching memoirs on Christian spirituality. When Blue Like Jazz Blue-Like-Jaz...moreI’m not sure I would have read this book if not for the fact that I’m researching memoirs on Christian spirituality. When Blue Like Jazz Blue-Like-Jazz3was all the rage (back in 2005-6), I checked out Miller’s website to see what all the buzz was about. The deeper I went into his site, the more suspicious I became. Especially when the author linked to the radical progressive group MoveOn.org (a link the author has since removed). All that to say, I went into the reading of this book dubious.
Being that Blue Like Jazz has been out for a decade now and there’s plenty of reviews around the web, some very detailed, I’ll get to the point of what I did and didn’t like about the book.
What I Liked About Blue Like Jazz:
Donald Miller is not a theologian, and in this case, that’s a good thing. The book is not encumbered with doctrinal discussions and religious jargon, hence the book’s subtitle, Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality. Miller is very much an everyman. He’s not pushy or dogmatic. He has an approachable, readable style. He’s self-effacing and funny. You could almost imagine having coffee with the guy and not feeling like a peon. This laid-back, non-preachy vibe, greases Miller’s testimony and disarms potentially volatile subject matter.
Miller is also a great wordsmith. There’s plenty of witty lines and humorous, but insightful illustrations. Like when Miller tells the story of the Navy SEALs rescuing hostages from some dark part of the world, only to burst into a room and find the hostages terrified of them. They’d been imprisoned for so long, they couldn’t tell if they were really being rescued. So the SEALs did something unusual. They removed their weapons and huddled next to the hostages until those prisoners were convinced the SEALs had their best interest in mind. Miller masterfully uses this as a picture of Christ, huddling with the hostages of Satan, and then leading us free. Donald Miller is a good storyteller.
Another strength of this book is that it speaks to the postmodern zeitgeist. This is very much a book for our times. Not only is it structurally non-linear and non-didactic (a prevailing characteristic of many contemporary memoirs), it sees through the eyes of Millennials. As much as I hedge against and criticize oblique postmodern illogic and its damaging effects on morals and culture, the fact is we are living in a post-Christian, relativistic age. Blue Like Jazz speaks from such a worldview.
What I Did Not Like About Blue Like Jazz:
It’s theologically mushy.
I could quibble with other things. Like when Miller talks about the peace protests he attended, disparages Republicans and traditional Christianity, subtly applauds Bill Clinton while sneering at George Bush. But, thankfully, Miller doesn’t belabor those points.
It’s when he gets into “spirituality” that I found Blue Like Jazz wanting. For instance, Miller rightly says
“I don’t think any church has ever been relevant to culture, to the human struggle, unless it believed in Jesus and the power of His gospel” (page 111).
I whole-heartedly agree. It’s when you start digging into the details that you learn that following Jesus and embracing “the power of the Gospel” means something potentially unorthodox to Donald Miller.
For instance, early in the book (page 54), Miller confesses that God does not make any sense. Then he admits that Christian Spirituality is something that can’t be explained, but only be felt.
“It cannot be explained, and yet it is beautiful and true. It is something you feel, and it comes from the soul” (page 57).
When a book supposedly about “Christian spirituality” begins by stating that Christian spirituality “cannot be explained” but only felt, be prepared for anything.
To make matters worse, Miller defines Christian spirituality as a feeling.
“I think Christian spirituality is like jazz music. I think loving Jesus is something you feel. I think it is something very difficult to get on paper.” (p. 239)
This is consistent with postmodern thought and, to me, the problem with Blue Like Jazz. It’s really not saying anything! I mean, for all its talk about Christian spirituality, Miller never really defines anything. Who is Jesus? What does it mean to be a Christian? What makes Christian spirituality unique? There’s more loose ends here than in a quilt factory. Miller could, in my opinion, just as well argue for reincarnation or enlightenment or some other abstraction. If it’s all a feeling and nothing can be explained, why choose Christian spirituality?
A couple days ago, I read a review of Rob Bell’s latest book. Bell and Miller are both progressive in their theology, and often mentioned as representative of Emerging Evangelicals. So it shouldn’t have been a surprise to me that the reviewer had similar feelings to Bell’s book as I had to Miller’s. Jonathan Ryan, a novelist and writer for Christianity Today, in his review of Rob bell’s latest book, said this:
His answers are a bunch of rambling, rumbling, shucking, jiving, beat poet, train wrecks that make very little sense. …They’re well meaning, but mostly incoherent. The answers might be fine for an open mike poetry night, but not as answers to the important questions Bell raises.
…He says a lot of stuff that seems profound and good. In fact, some of what he says IS profound and good. Yet in the end, you keep wondering when the kid is going to make any sense. You wonder if he really knows what a jumbled mess he is making.
This is a perfect description of how I felt after reading Blue Like Jazz. Miller rarely quotes Scripture, opting instead to unravel his experiences as the interpretive lens for his beliefs. His conversational style eventually becomes “a bunch of rambling, rumbling, shucking, jiving, beat poet, train wrecks that make very little sense.” I came away from this book having absolutely no better understanding of what Christian spirituality means or how I can pursue it more vigorously.
Unfortunately, the current wave of religious postmodern lit, in its attempt to honestly deconstruct evangelical Christianity, ends up saying barely anything at all. It tries to navigate a middle course between historic orthodox Christianity and subjective, relativistic nonsense. In the end, Blue Like Jazz is mushy theology wrapped in hipster lingo and coffeehouse philosophy. In this case, neither satisfies.
“Numbers” are what Bradley Wright’s Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites …and...more99.3% of all statistics are misused.
Okay, so I just made up that number.
“Numbers” are what Bradley Wright’s Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites …and Other Lies You’ve Been Told traffics in. To be more exact, it’s the misuse of numbers, particularly how they relate to Christians, that Wright is bent on exposing. And there’s plenty of exposing needing to be done.
Wright, who is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut, tackles several areas in which both the secular and the religious world misuse statistics in order to caricature Christians, demean the Church, or as scare tactics. Wright devotes individual chapters to specific “lies” we’ve been told about Christians and examines, in detail, how the statistical data was misused, or ignored, to reach a given end.
Is American Christianity on the brink of extinction? Are we losing our young people? Are Evangelicals all poor, uneducated, southern whites? Do Christians love others? What do non-Christians think of us?
Each of these questions contain a freight of statistical data, often conveniently framed and edited, which is then repeated ad nauseum through churches and media until it becomes “conventional wisdom.” Perhaps the best, most recent example of this, is the “nones.” This is the growing demographic of “religiously unaffiliated” that has invoked gloom and doom pronouncements (like Newsweek magazine’s The End of Christian America) and institutional gut-checks among many of the major denominations.
Wright takes a refreshingly deeper look at the statistics, while countering them with others. For instance,
“The percentage of Americans who believe in God has remained remarkably high — over 90% of Americans have believed and continue to believe in some form of God.” (p. 48)
So while there is a growing trend toward religious non-affiliation, it is NOT a significant trend toward agnosticism or atheism. Even more fascinating,
“…the increases in religious disaffiliation happened among political liberals and moderates who had relatively weak ties to the church.” (p. 33)
This is a very important piece of data, I think, that I haven’t seen explored elsewhere. Which, I guess, buttresses Wright’s point that we’re not getting the whole picture.
Then he cites controversial Seattle pastor Mark Driscoll as an example of how common sense examination of the data can lead to different conclusions.
“Driscoll distinguishes active, practicing Christians from those who simply profess Christianity without deeper engagement. Presumably, it is the second category of ‘cultural’ Christians who are redefining themselves as unaffiliated. If so, Driscoll argues, then there is little drop-off in active, committed Christians, and the church doesn’t suffer much from the loss of less-committed members. …Driscoll concludes that recent changes ‘are not discouraging, but rather clarifying.’ Driscoll’s argument makes a larger point: Numerical declines are not necessarily negative.” (p. 55)
So while this data is constantly interpreted as showing religion is in decline, it could mean an important cultural winnowing is occurring instead. Perhaps the trend toward religious unaffiliation says something other than that Christianity is doomed. Again, it all depends on what we’re looking at, or for.
Contrary to what we hear from the media, Christians are doing significantly better than they are commonly portrayed. The strength of our marriages, charitable giving, even our youth.
“…the percentage of young people who attend church or who think that religion is important has remained mostly stable.” (p. 66)
While many youth continue to follow the age-old pattern of leaving and returning to the church when they begin families of their own, they are not leaving in the droves often portrayed.
Of course, this isn’t to say that everything is rosy. In fact, at the end of the book Wright, like a good professor, gives out “grades” to the Christian Church, with some notable areas for improvement. Here’s a sampling:
Holding onto the young — B- Retaining members — B Gender equality — C Racial integration — B- Divorce and living together — B Attitudes towards blacks — D Attitudes towards gays — D Our attitudes towards non-Christians — C-
So the book is not a puff piece for US.
Perhaps what’s most refreshing about Wright’s book is his encouragement for the average person to cultivate a healthy skepticism toward statistics.
“For reasons that I don’t fully understand, statistics hold a strange power over people. Someone who is otherwise a clear thinker will readily accept something not true when it is presented as a statistic. …If nothing else, I hope you realize the need to be more skeptical when it comes to statistics about Christianity.” (p. 218)
Two minor complaints:
1.) The book’s a bit wonky and academic. I mean, if you love graphs, and charts, and figures, you might disagree. But I found it dry in spots because of that.
2.) Is Wright guilty of his own charges? In other words, he’s using stats to prove a point. Or a counter-point. Make no mistake, I’m on board with his premise. I’m thrilled he’s giving us a bigger picture. But doesn’t that prove that people can make stats say what they want?
Which, maybe, brings us back to the real issue: Take all statistics with a grain of salt. Four out of five stars for a much-needed statistical counter-point. (less)
Back in 1968, in The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer wrote that the problem with communicating Christianity to a new generation was centered on a...moreBack in 1968, in The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer wrote that the problem with communicating Christianity to a new generation was centered on a new view of truth, one detached from an objective, knowable reality. Jonathan D. Fitzgerald, author of the new ebook Not Your Mother’s Morals, writes from the perspective of this “new generation.” As such, the “morals” he hails are byproducts of cultural relativism, where “what is right is not set in stone” and “certain situations call for certain kinds of right” (location 712). Thus, “Changing Pop Culture for the Better” (the book’s subtitle) has less to do with “what is right” (which, after all, is “not set in stone”), than it has to do with what is “better.” Which, in the author’s mind, appears to be anything other than your mother’s morals.
Not Your Mother’s Morals is, in essence, part of the current wave of anti-evangelical bromides. Interestingly enough, Fitzgerald’s book is less of a critique of conservative Christian culture than it is the unfurling of a postmodernistic banner on the pop cultural landscape. But, as we’ll see, the attempt to meld a postmodern view of truth with religion is inherently slippery.
The springboard of Fitzgerald’s book is his belief that a “New Sincerity” has emerged. Thanks to the collapsing of organized religious (see obligatory references to the “Nones” and the “spiritual but not religious”), “a new morality [is] taking shape” (97). What does this new morality look like? Strangely enough, or not, it’s old school liberalism. Fitzgerald writes,
“Look to the places where claims of morality are made the loudest, and often most convincingly, and you will find that they are not typically voiced by the traditional sources of moral indignation: religious organizations. Rather, the issues at the forefront of contemporary moral consideration are the environment, marriage equality, access to health care, and the responsibilities of wealthy countries to their counterparts in the developing world, to name a few.” (226)
Notice, these new cultural legislators are not “the traditional sources of moral indignation: religious organizations.” And what are the “contemporary moral considerations” these non-traditional legislators stand for? Oh, things like “the environment, marriage equality, access to health care,” etc. You know, the Democratic platform.
So how does this new breed of “moralist” manage to influence culture without the “moral indignation” of its predecessor?
“Rather than offering a strict moral code to live by, popular culture today provides more of a moral posture”(116)
This “moral posture” — which, I’m assuming, must be tethered to a “moral code” of some sort — is what the New Sincerity is all about. But how does one go about emphasizing “moral posture” above “moral code”?
“Our fashionable idea, I believe, is the ‘New Sincerity,’ in which an emphasis on being sincere and authentic creates a space for frank discussion of morality in popular culture.” (151, bold mine)
Apparently, a “moral posture” is more about attitude than, say, morals. Sincerity and authenticity are a morality all their own. Sort of. So it doesn’t matter what one believes as long as they are… “sincere and authentic.” This “emphasis on being sincere and authentic” was, at least in Fitzgerald’s mind, blazed by Progressives. Hooray! In the shirking of their mother’s morals and organized religion’s shrill “moral indignation,” postmodern Christians are “changing pop culture for the better.”
And pop culture is the vehicle for which these morals (or moral posturing) are being imparted.
“What I’m arguing here isn’t necessarily that authenticity and sincerity are high moral values in and of themselves, but rather that their emergence in popular culture has created opportunities to discuss moral questions openly and honestly. If an artist can, without fear of recourse, explore issues of faith and family, environmentalism and politics, and come to definite conclusions about the morality or immorality of these things, then there is inherent value in authenticity.” (252)
And here’s where we bump into the Achilles Heel of “postmodern morals.” Without an agreed upon set of moral and logical “rules,” how is it possible to “come to definite conclusions about… morality or immorality”? And how can one arrive at “definite conclusions” about morality or immorality without being, um, definite?
Nevertheless, Fitzgerald proceeds to identify some of these sincere, authentic, spokespersons of the New Sincerity. Like Lady Gaga, who “has made it cool to be different, to be unique, to be one’s self” (266), director Judd Apatow, and agnostic, ex-Christian indie musician, David Bazan. Even a “rising atheist star” (409) like Chris Stedman is cited as part of this New Sincerity. And, rather predictably, Fitzgerald traces the pinnacle of this new morality to the election of Barack Obama. The “apex of the influence of popular culture’s New Sincerity movement on politics” was Barack Obama’s “Hope and Change” campaign. (645)
Admittedly, I was bit confused about the author’s intentions for this book. If it’s about how comics, indie music, television, and film all play a part in shaping or reflecting our cultural psyche, I’m right there. Fitzgerald writes,
“…stories are the greatest means for imparting morality from one generation to the next” (100).
Agreed. Rigid codes of conduct and finger-wagging moralism does little to influence culture long-term. It’s not sermons but stories that imbed themselves in our cultural psyche. But what I found myself asking as I read Not Your Mother’s Morals is not, How can Christians speak more into pop culture?, but What morals are we supposed to speak into pop culture? This, I’m afraid, is the real divide.
“It doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable to think that one day, decades from now when we’re considering whether it is ethical for a cloned human to marry a cyborg, gay families will be considered traditional.” (463)
May I be frank? The author seems to believe it is immoral to NOT consider gay families “traditional.” Or to NOT be an environmentalist. Or to NOT subscribe to universal health care. This is the crux of the tale. Jonathan D. Fitzgerald is making moral observations while touting moral malleability and eschewing “moral indignation.”
”The New Sincerity taps into the part of us that wants to do the right thing, while simultaneously acknowledging that what is right is not set in stone — certain situations call for certain kinds of right.” (712)
The obvious question is, How can you want to do “the right thing” while “simultaneously acknowledging that what is right is not set in stone”? At the least, what you consider “right” is always up for debate. And what you consider “right” may not be what I consider “right,” making any moral decision permissible. Which leads me to wonder why these “new morals” are any better than the old morals. Or more compelling. On what grounds should I capitulate to the “new morals” seeing that they’re simply byproducts of cultural relativism? I mean, tomorrow this “new morality” may be defunct. Furthermore, how can I reach “definite conclusions” about the morals Fitzgerald celebrates when those morals are transient? Like building a house on sand, it’s ultimately nonsensical.
This is postmodern illogic at its best.
Fitzgerald is a fine writer and I’ll give him points for providing a new spin on what’s becoming a tired franchise. The real flaw of Not Your Mother’s Morals is not in its charting of a “new morality” pervading pop culture. Liberalism has always found root among pop cultural celebrities. This is nothing new or revelatory. No. It’s the author’s inability to persuade about the rightness of the new morality that strips the book of gravity. It’s little more than a passing ode to relativism.
Alas, if this is the New Sincerity, I want nothing of it. Sincerely.(less)
Winner's thoughtful, often amusing, ruminations on her "Path to a spiritual life" won me over. That path involved joining, then leaving, orthodox Juda...moreWinner's thoughtful, often amusing, ruminations on her "Path to a spiritual life" won me over. That path involved joining, then leaving, orthodox Judaism for Christianity. There's less a juxtaposition than an experiential sampling of one over the other. It leads to some significant insights and refreshingly brutal honesty. But it also points out the weakness of Winner's conclusion. While I enjoyed journeying with her, why she favored Christianity over Judaism (or any other religion for that matter), seems inconsequential. One gets the sense she could migrate back to Judaism, or on to Buddhism or Wicca or something, just as easily. Perhaps I'm wrong. "Girl Meets God" has a hip, whimsical, stream of consciousness feel. The prose are stellar with many memorable lines along the way. Sadly, however, this memoir seems much more about "seeking" than it does "finding." (less)
4.5 stars. Loved this. Complex and witty. Approaches defense of the Christian faith against atheism through larger philosophical lenses, rather than b...more4.5 stars. Loved this. Complex and witty. Approaches defense of the Christian faith against atheism through larger philosophical lenses, rather than bullet-point rebuttals and tactical maneuvers. The back-to-back chapters on our mathematical universe and Platonic Forms was quite good, establishing how science itself opened the door to Something beyond nature. Really enjoyed this!(less)
“Seeking Unseen” is the second book in Kat Heckenbach’s Toch Island Chronicles series. Having not read “Finding Angel,” the first book in the series,...more“Seeking Unseen” is the second book in Kat Heckenbach’s Toch Island Chronicles series. Having not read “Finding Angel,” the first book in the series, I wish I would have started there. Kat’s a solid writer, and it shows in this book. The story is eminently readable, easy to follow, and her characters are rich (and witty!). Perhaps the thing I liked best was the storyworld Kat’s created. Toch Island is a magical world that exists alongside our own; it has its own unique brand of magic, communal rules, flora and fauna. Some elements of this fantasy world are really quite original. And therein lies a bit of my problem, not with “Seeking Unseen,” but in starting with Book Two. I felt like I was behind the curve for the first half of the novel. What were the rules of this world? Where (or in what age) does this world exist? Then there were references to events in “Finding Angel,” and characters that died. It needlessly made the story a little more work than it should have been. All in all, however, this is a solid YA novel, full of great concepts, and very well-written. And a great moral framework (unlike like so much of the glum, angsty YA fantasy that seems to permeate the market).Here’s hoping this series eventually finds its way to a broader readership. Four out of five stars for Kat Heckenbach’s “Seeking Unseen.”(less)
Reminded me of a minimized Sandman Slim. Raunchy. Punchy. Lots of paranormal elements. Colorful characters. Told in first person narrative with a 1940...moreReminded me of a minimized Sandman Slim. Raunchy. Punchy. Lots of paranormal elements. Colorful characters. Told in first person narrative with a 1940's film noir vibe. Easy reading. However, it was hard to like this protag. One minute he's a hard drinking womanizer, the next he's battling demons for the good of mankind. Three-and-a-half stars.(less)