Archive for March, 2013

What We Talk About When We Talk About God

Posted in Book Review with tags , on March 22, 2013 by seguewm

9780062049667_300X300If you begin reading Bell by first scanning his bibliography, you will instantly reach for your seat belt and helmet. It portends be a wild and exciting ride. In the beginning he reviews our current conceptions of the universe, which neatly sets readers up for the next chapters in which we joyfully expect to be mercilessly whipped around mind-boggling theological curve after curve, shaking every long cherished conception of God out of our pockets and into the nearest black hole.

Unfortunately, Bell hedges his bets, much as he did in Love Wins, and – for all intents and purposes – assumes the existence and essence of the familiar Christian God. While Bell juggles in clever terms and shares many intriguing notions, which makes his book well worth reading, he never escapes the gravitational pull of his evangelical roots. Not that he has to, but something much more was expected from one so gifted. In our twenty-first century one would hope that our discussions about God could at least begin by stepping outside the world of mankind’s millennially exhausting pre-modern explanations of the universe and justly and intelligently ask the question, ‘what if there isn’t any God?’, rather than to discount that perspective out-of-hand, without any real discussion, which has only raised legitimate questions about the integrity of Christian scholarship.

So, all that being said, I recommend that you read this book and enjoy it for what it is. Then look for other authors who are willing to examine the idea of ‘God’ more thoroughly.

Cross Examined – An Unconventional Spiritual Journey, By Bob Seidensticker

Posted in Book Review with tags , , on March 8, 2013 by seguewm

speakeasy_bob_seidensticker.1I got irritated reading this book. I was irritated every time the ‘churched’ spoke. Smug ‘Christians’ aren’t very nice people. I was irritated by the rebuttal of the atheist. Where were voices like this when I began asking questions? Finally, I was irritated every time someone interrupted me while I was reading. The story was totally engaging.

Yet this was more than an exceptionally great story among a sea of other new books that are both a waste of time and money. Seidensticker effectively takes the reader by surprise, sucking the unprepared deep into his narrative, while fearlessly landing an assault on the very foundations of our world view.

Honestly, this was one of the best books I’ve read in recent months. The author explored working with characters who were genuinely searching for truth while others hid from the truth in various ways. The reader must jockey his/her way back and forth between sometimes identifying with one and then with the other. We not only come face to face with the truth about the genuineness of our own desire for truth, but we are frequently confronted by specific challenges to many of our cherished defenses. Overlaying the existential, theological, and the rational clobbering, the author simultaneously side-swipes the reader with the emotionality of two tragic background stories.

So, what does one do with all this? Was it only a good story? Should we merely permit the author to take us out for a spin, then return us safely to our home? Read only if you consider yourself an honest person.