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ImageEvery once in awhile, I review a book for Speakeasy.  The description for this book intrigued me, “Cross Examined challenges the popular intellectual arguments for Christianity and invites the reader to shore them up  …….. or discard them.  Take the journey and see where it leads you.”

Enticing for sure.  And the book does what is promised – it definitely challenges some intellectual arguments for Christianity.  But Ican’t say I recommend it, for several reasons.

First, it’s an apologetics text masquerading as a novel.  The writing is fair if not eloquent, but the story is pretty simple and the long stretches where the story is interrupted for teaching are awkward.  Second, the biased nature of the story is not helpful.  The atheist is good.  The Christian pastor is bad.  The Christian parents are old-fashioned tyrants.  The Buddhists are nice.  There is no nuance, every character is fairly one-sided.

Finally, I find the apologetics to be tiring.  Full disclosure, I am a Christian and a minister.  But the intellectual debate around Christianity has never held much sway for me.  I’m not interested in proving my faith, I’m interested in living it.  There is enough in following Jesus, trying to love as he loved and proclaiming resurrection – light in the midst of darkness for me.  Arguing philosophical points doesn’t make or break my faith.

Maybe this book is for others for whom these arguments are energizing.  I had hoped that the novel would help to make the process less annoying for me.  Unfortunately, I did not find that to be the case.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/

Beloved

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Keeping the Feast

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I got this book as part of a project called SpeakEasy that sends you a book if you will review it.  I was drawn to this book because of it’s attempt to connect the communion meal in church with our everyday meals.  I was not disappointed.

This was a great book.  I loved the poetry, I loved the recipes, I loved the stories.  I can see using it in sermons, in educational settings and for my own edification.  I can see re-reading it many times over.

The author draws upon many of my favorite theologians – Bruegermann, Buechner, L’Engle.  He draws on ancient and modern writers, old and new songs.  It’s a book that feels contemporary but could become a classic. Milton Brasher-Cunningham is the kind of writer I like. He cares about words. He uses them as necessary and with purpose.

I’m gushing, but it’s a book I needed.  To re-member the roots of Communion.  To feed my soul at a time when it is dry.  To connect the everyday and important meals with my everyday faith. Here is one of my favorite passages:

“Jesus sat with his disciples around the table and, as he served them bread, he said, “Every time you do this, remember me.” What if we could hear those words as an invitation to communion and community in every meal, in every cup of coffee, in every beer at the pub: every time you eat and drink, look each other in the eye and remember me, remember the love that binds you and do whatever you have to do to forget the lies you have learned that tear you apart.”

I highly recommend this book!

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