Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Unexpected Journey

The title today doesn't just refer to the book I'm reviewing but also to the path I've been on this last year. With the onset of RA, I started reading books like crazy. Books I'd always wanted to read, books that I checked out from the library, books I borrowed from other people, and any others I could get my hands on. My library record shows my wild ride through literature. There's a great function on the library service my local library uses. The service is called InfoSoup and I can reserve books and see what I have checked out on their website. There's also a history function. It displays every item I've checked out over the course of the last year. I update it regularly by deleting movies, books for the kids, Mia's puppets, and any books I didn't get the chance to read/finish. (Yes, there's an opt-out button for those of you who don't want the government snooping into your reading history) So as of today, I've checked out 235 books from my library since Feb. 20 of last year. When you factor in all of the books I received to review, books I purchased/borrowed, and got through the extended library loan system, I can say I've easily read over 300 books in the last year. That's a journey I never expected to take. My mind has been opened in so many ways to politics, religion, faith, racism, prejudice, history, etc. I've discovered authors that just blow my mind and rediscovered some old favorites. I've only written about 230 reviews on the site. I think I have 236 on Amazon.com and that makes me reviewer #2640. My goal for the next year is to be a top 1000 reviewer; a goal that's not unrealistic considering last year I was #50,000 or so. This year has been full of ups and downs, literary and otherwise, and I just want to say thanks for coming along with me on this unexpected journey of mine.

Unexpected Journey by Thom S. Rainer is the story of 12 people of other faiths who turned to Christianity. Rainer and his wife interview each of these new Christians about what their former beliefs were and how they came to find Christ. The interviews are pretty straightforward other than the occasional awkward interruption by Rainer putting himself into the story. The stories are riveting looks inside faiths we don't normally hear about. Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, Hinduism and Buddhism converts are expected. The Wiccan, astrologer, and Satanist are fascinating. Each convert also gives advice on how to speak to someone of their former faith and help them find Jesus the way they did. The advice in every case is the same: Show Christ's love. Judgmental behavior and accusations don't work; only acceptance and love can show another person what being a Christian truly is. This lesson is pounded home again and again, but it can't be repeated enough. Pundits making pronouncements about the morality or goodness aren't a very good example of Christianity. It's people on a individual basis who can make a difference. The book only stumbles when Rainer tries to give unnecessary ambience to the stories. Reading about his troubles finding restaurants and how friendly the waitress was isn't necessary and only detracts from the power of these stories. My one other complaint is that I doubt anyone who isn't already a Christian will pick up this book and be swayed by it, but the advice inside for Christians is well-taken.

Mia is sick tonight, running a fever of 101 and sleeping already at 6 pm. Keep her in your prayers.