Book Review: Two Books about God

So even though I can’t stay awake for more than an hour while sitting, I have managed to read two books about God. One is Mudhouse Sabbath, by Lauren Winner, and the other is Searching for God Knows What, by Donald Miller. These are two of my three favorite religious writers writing right now (the third is Anne Lamott).

Mudhouse Sabbath
Lauren converted to Judaism, but was, in her words, “sneaking around to read the New Testament”, so she became a Christian. This book is 11 chapters on how, if we let it, Judaism can add some very fulfilling meaning to our faith practice. While I enjoy being a Baptist, I do sometimes long for the more ritualistic habits that we just don’t have. This book is a good look at what is different, what Judaism does right, and a bit of how we can add that back into our practice. Lauren is an enjoyable writer and I have also read her book Girl Meets God, in which she details her struggle to become Jewish and then her struggle deciding to become a Christian. I have a lot of admiration for her ability to articulate her choices on faith and I highly recommend both of her books.

Searching for God Knows What
Definitely the harder of the two reads. I actually got a bit bogged down in the middle and I took a break to read Mudhouse Sabbath. The fault, however, wasn’t with Don’s prose but with my inability to stay awake. Did I mention that my awake attention span is that of a gnat’s entire lifespan? (Ok, even shorter than that because they live up to four months.)

Don is particularly gifted in reminding me that our culture is wrong. Everything about the system is messed up and when we focus our attentions on that, we will be messed up too. His gift in this book specifically is that our religion is relational. It is not charts and graphs and systems, it is a personal relationship with God. And any effort to reduce that relationship to charts and graphs and systems takes away from our focus on the relationship. My favorite chapter is the one on morality, and it is a must read no matter what religion you subscribe to. But my favorite section of the whole book comes in the last two pages:

And I go back to Eden, in my mind, to imagine what it is going to be like for you and me in heaven. I suppose it will be a new and marvelous paradise, where love will exist in its purest form, where the beauty of diversity will be understood for the first time, where self-hatred will fade into an agreement with God about the splendor of His creation, where physical beauty will no longer be used as a commodity, where you and I will feel free in our sincere love for others, ourselves, and God. And I suppose it will be heaven that you and I actually understand each other, all the drama of the lifeboat a distant memory, all the arguments we had seeming so inconsequential, and the glory of God before us in all His majesty, shining like sunlight through our souls. This will be a good thing, my friend.

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3 Comments

  1. on October 29, 2006 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Well, it didn’t take much for me to want to read some more Don, but … that did it. 🙂

  2. on October 29, 2006 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, I’m starting to feel like if he decided to rewrite the phone book he would make it interesting and really about a God I would want to know. He definitely has a gift.

  3. on November 2, 2006 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Wish you could have gone with us, but I understand the reasons why not. 🙂