Archive for September, 2012

Steeple Envy, by Victor Cuccia

Posted in Book Review with tags , , on September 10, 2012 by seguewm

The author, like so many who write about the church these days, presents his dire assessment of religion. It is much more of a description, declaring what he ‘sees’ has, is, and will most likely be the path of Christianity – if we don’t do something about it – than a solution. There is little to disagree with.

The author openly confesses, through various anecdotes, how he has himself responded to American commodified religiosity. He makes it clear that he doesn’t have all the answers and is still on his journey of discovery – flirting, maybe, even with a ‘second naivete’. Some of us may be in that same transitional boat.

Cuccia compares what he believes the Bible has really called us to as followers of Jesus to what has been the predominant practice of religion. He doesn’t hesitate to apply the caustic woes preached by Jesus against the Pharisees, to the Pharisaical folks of our day.

Overall, it seems clear that the author has moved well out of a first naivete, and is finding it – at this point – rather cathartic to label what he has left behind. Many will need this book to identify where they are – and to find hope that there is ‘something better’ ahead. A few will find this book a rather tedious revisiting of old gripes they have long left behind now that they have actually entered the ‘something better’.

It is rather comically ironic that the Amazon listing of this book links to companies selling steeples just before you reach the reviews of Cuccia’s book. One such ad says, ‘over 25 years of satisfied church steeple customers’. The automatic computer-driven association between the word ‘steeple’ in the book title and steeple’s for sale underscores, as a metaphor, the very premise of his book – the ‘mindless’ ways that we practice religion.

The River, by Michael Neale

Posted in Book Review with tags , on September 9, 2012 by seguewm

An intriguing and inspiring book that follows a character, Gabriel, from early childhood through young adulthood as he wrestles with an early traumatic loss and discover how to really live.

We all carry some baggage from our past – whether knowingly or unwittingly. Our ‘baggage’ – whatever it may be – often becomes an obstacle, paralyzing us from pursuing opportunities that present themselves to us. Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. There is a way through our ‘stuff’. Sometimes the way is made clear by friends and sometimes we get clarity by having the courage to face our fears.

If you are looking for a consistently logical and unrelentingly realistic book, this isn’t for you. This story blends fact and metaphor, inviting the reader to meta-think, to imagine. Neale develops a picture that is greater than the sum of the parts. It is a story that is designed to move you from out of its wholeness rather than from out of any particular paragraph separated from the whole. By the time you reach the end of the book you’ll most likely say, ‘wow!’

This book was given to me to review by Thomas Nelson Publishers. I am not paid to review it, nor asked to give any particular pro or con review.