Mikejencostanzo's Reviews > Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games

Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong
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Jul 15, 2012

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I've been torn, when reviewing biographies as to whether my review should primarily critique the literary qualities of the work, or whether it's kosher to share my approval or disapproval of the life of the individual being studied.

As I'm left to my own devices in reviewing Running for My Life, it will largely be a life-review, and less, a book-review. As books go, the writing style is what you might expect from a 2012 autobiography produced by a major publisher: expert, engaging, and easy to read, but not necessarily a literary masterpiece.

The item of greater interest to me in my review is the main character Lopez Lomong, and the outworking of his faith both in his persecuted home country of South Sudan, and his new home in America.

Lomong skillfully tells the gripping story of his kidnap from his mother's arms during a Sunday morning church service. He goes on to tell how he managed to escape his captors, was adopted by American parents and found success as an Olympic athlete. The consistent credit he gives to God for orchestrating his escapes and victories at every point along the way is refreshing.

My main disappointment with his story is with the portrayal of his Christian faith as being on one hand very generic and other the other, syncretistic (melding in non-Christian elements).

I found myself surprised as Lomong described several superstitious practices (rituals & animal sacrifices) used by his home church in Sudan to bestow blessing or to dispel evil spirits. While Lomong expressed his own versions of surprise and disgust with these practices, he never described any concern for their legitimacy as Christian practices. This was an initial red-flag for me that led me to further analyze the way Christianity was portrayed in Running for My Life.

Another item I found disquieting was the fact that Lomong speaks often of his belief in God, but never of the person of Jesus Christ. Also, while it was fun to read about Lomong's welcome into a very friendly place called middle-class America, it would have been even more gratifying to see him welcomed with open arms by the American church. Nowhere in his story do we get to see him become part of an American Christian fellowship, or make any American Christian friends.

It sounds a little silly for me to critique a biography because I think something's missing in the story (as if it were a just a plot element in a work of fiction that the author could add in). "P.S. Insert Christian fellowship here. Fondly, Your Editor." But, on the other hand, I do wish for Lopez Lomong that he might find in America, not just the "American Dream," but also God at work here too, in the person of Jesus Christ, and through the lives of fellow believers surrounding and encouraging him.

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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John You are way off base! This review shows you ignorance and immaturity despite your use of big words.

Crystal Lomong writes quite often about his faith in Jesus, including his baptism when he "made up his mind to follow Jesus." He also states in the same passage that he was taking up his cross and following Jesus.

Mikejencostanzo I'm sorry--that was sloppy of me. I think I must have based my review on my recollection of the book without combing it for accuracy. Thanks for doing the work of locating actual examples. --Jen

Crystal No problem. I have the book on Kindle so looking that up didn't take long.

Crystal Jen, I just read the chapter where he goes home to Africa and noticed the mixing of Christianity and the animistic religion. I know it's common in places like Africa and parts of South America to combine Christian elements with their old faith. I completely understand what you were saying about that. I seemed, to me, that Lopez was uncomfortable with that aspect of his homecoming. I believe that his time in the camp in Kenya and then in the US led him away from those practices because he does seem very devout.

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