Monday, August 28, 2017

Love Wins

   I have to be honest: I decided to read this book for two reasons. The first is that it sparks such controversy. Love Wins is either loved or hated - there is no in between. USA Today was of the opinion that "Rob Bell has stuck a pitchfork in how Christians talk about damnation". This sparked my curiosity. The second reason is that I wanted to know how a man who enters peoples' testimonies with such loving kindness can come to be caught up in the crossfire of such heated debate. I have listened to a podcast interviewing him on his book What is the Bible?, a book which I have also read, and I have heard stories of how he brings people together and interacts with them with incredible loving kindness and gentleness.

   I won't pretend I'm deeply theological and can argue over, about, or against any implications that Rob Bell's work might lead to, but this book speaks love, life, and goodness, to me and to many. This book speaks, breathes, believes Jesus.

   This is not a new book, nor is it his newest. This year he released What is the Bible? which describes more of this controversy that I find so drawing, only it is a fuller, deeper, and in my opinion better, account of some of his more detailed theological opinions. Love Wins attempts to examine the context of scriptures in order to guide the most accurate interpretation that it can. What I love about Rob Bell is that he always seeks to keep the original intent and context of the scriptures in mind - these are things that are so easy to forget, but they make the words feel that much more approachable, real, and applicable.

   What Love Wins really wants to know is whether or not we've been looking at "heaven, hell, and the fate of every person who ever lived" all wrong. But I find that the most beautiful thing about the way Rob Bell writes is that he doesn't provide a book of answers to all of life's questions. He provides interpretations, suggestions, and theories while acknowledging firmly that he does not have all the answers - that no one has all of the answers - and he is also still searching, the same as anyone else.

   --Elise T--

   For more information on Love Wins by Rob Bell, visit our website here.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Behind the Canvas

   I have not been this tempted and enraptured by adventure since Tosca Lee's Progeny and its sequel, Firstborn. This is of an entirely different realm. Behind the Canvas, written for ages 8-14, is an unspeakably incredible adventure; a seamless blend of C.S. Lewis' Narnia and Wayne Thomas Batson's The Door Within Series, coming together with oodles of art history and the absolute wonder of creativity. The protagonist, Claudia, is a twelve year old girl who develops an extraordinary amount of courage and bravery along the way. She has delightful character and personality - a quiet disposition with a penchant for fierce passion. She is everything that my introverted, bookworm, nerdy heart longs to become.

   I love her, I love this book, I love it all.

   Alexander Vance takes Claudia from observing art in all of its colour, to living it, when she discovers an entire world behind the canvas. It is everything a twelve-year old (or anyone of any age, for that matter) could ask for in terms of adventure, with dragons and knights, swords and fire, friendly dogs and terrifying monsters. Claudia's journey takes her from her world into this one as she follows loyalty in friendship. She strives to rescue her newfound friend Pim, who has been trapped for years in that painted world by a witch with incredible, awful power.

   It's a story of loyalty, first of all, and trust. And it's a story of confidence, in others and in our own gifts. Aside from the adventure in all of its exciting grandness, some of the best parts of this story are its lessons and morals. Alexander Vance writes about what is true and good, triumph over evil, and redeeming destruction and pain into newness. This is a story of creation, creativity, and the incredible influence of art, and it's a story to influence and inspire adventurers and artists of all ages.

   --Elise T--

   For more information on Behind the Canvas by Alexander Vance, visit our website here.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Finding God in the Waves

   Finding God in the Waves is a far cry from orthodox Christianity, and it may be better for readers to approach this book with that in mind. Mike McHargue - better known online and by his friends as Science Mike - did not write this book for the Christian with a firm, rooted faith, seeking an inspiring story that validates their belief. He wrote this book for almost everyone else - the doubters, the seekers, the lost.  It is not a book to explain, answer, or convince. It is not a book to complain, convict, or condemn.

   Science Mike does what I imagine Christ did, and does, in meeting people where they're at - anyone, anywhere, anytime. This book walks through his experiences and transitions from Fundamental Evangelical and Southern Baptist, to atheist, to...something else. This is not a book of answers, or a backslider sliding back into the fold, because after his transition to and from atheism, Science Mike's approach to Christianity, Christ, and even God, is not at all the same as his pre-atheism days.

   There is an incredible pressure in many Christian circles that attacks doubt and questioning as the root of all kinds of evil, and a one-way-ticket to eternal torment. But the reality is that everyone has doubts. This book, even if it is an impersonal ink and paper vessel, is a safe place to experience, allow, and explore those doubts and questions. This book is for the Doubting Thomases of Christianity, the believer turned atheist, turned agnostic, turned somewhere in between. This book is for those who are dissatisfied with what their particular stream of Christianity has taught them, but who still hold onto belief - some kind, any kind, of belief. And it's for the scientists within those brackets.

   The reconciliation of science and faith is a major tension in so many religious contexts contained within Christianity. I personally do not have a very scientific method of thinking, but I have found tension between some scientific truths and faith truths that are difficult to contend with. The magic of Science Mike's book is that it contains all of the wonder of scientific discovery and all of the explanation, with none of the abstract language. He never lost me in statistics or convoluted theories. Finding God in the Waves was written to be approachable, and it is, in the most comforting way.

--Elise T--

   For more information on Finding God in the Waves visit our website here.