Tag Archives: memoir

Walking Through Twilight

Openness, authenticity, and even lament are increasingly been seen as important among evangelical circles. With an increase in the valuing of these virtues and practices we have also seen an increase in the number of books addressing such topics. For example:

  • Todd Billings’: Rejoicing in Lament – Wrestling with Incurable Cancer and Life in Christ
  • Steve Hayner’s: Joy in the Journey – Finding Abundance in the Shadow of Death

More recently we have Douglas Groothius’, “Walking Through Death: A Wife’s Illness – A Philosopher’s Lament.” In this book, Groothius, Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary, walks us through what it has been like for him and his wife dealing with her rare form of dementia: Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA). He walks us through the pain of learning of her condition, watching some of her strengths become weaknesses, and most significantly, loosing vital aspects of his relationship with his wife.41guszfmbtl-_sx331_bo1204203200_

The highlights of this book come in Groothius moments of raw transparency. He expresses anger and even rage. He, understatedly says, “I did not think dearly of God.” And, rather strongly says, “I hated God and told him so repeatedly.” (41) He says he never flirted with atheism, but was bordering on “misotheism” – the hatred of God. Yet at the same time he knew that God was his only hope. Those struggling with hating God in terrible situations might find solace in hearing Groothius verbalize thoughts they think they probably shouldn’t have.

In the midst of these emotionally packed moments we are also given glimpses of Groothius’ philosophical mind at work. His reflections on atheism and misotheism are interesting. His discussion about the nature of lying in chapter 13 presents some interesting philosophical reflections. Chapter 15 which addresses humanity’s relationship to animals, specifically dogs, raises some interesting questions about humanity’s nature.

The appendix, though not strictly a part of the “lament” is worth the price of the book. In it he provides three ways to engage with people who are lamenting. I won’t spoil it here, but, I recommend you take a look at this section and really reflect upon how you deal with people who are hurting.

If you are looking for a model of how to deal with pain, anger, agony, and confusion in the face of suffering, this book might be a good place to turn to.

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Scary Close

Perhaps more than any other book Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz helped define a generation of evangelicals like myself. The 2000’s were a turning point for many evangelicals – many of us were looking for an identity. We had grown up in the church but somehow stuff felt too “churchy” to be real – we were craving authenticity we were craving reality. We loved Jesus but the “churchiness” of the church felt ineffective in reaching the world for Christ, we were trying to be missional but didn’t even know it. So a lot of us dabbled with the emergent church – there was a point in which everyone wanted to be emergent! Others of us planted our feet firmly in traditional evangelicalism. Well that phase passed and the emergent movement slowly died; however what emerged was something way better than that. What emerged was a more missional, more orthodox, form of evangelicalism. Donald Miller had a part to play in that – he showed us it was okay to be Christian, love Jesus, love the church, without being “churchy.” He showed us it was okay to be a Christian and not have our lives all figured out. Now, 12 years later Donald has written another book – this time it seems like Donald is finally getting some sort of resolution…. Donald is getting married!

Scary Close is a very personal look at intimacy and relationships through the lens of Donald’s engagement process. In it Donald reveals his tendency to perform or to play a role in order to get people to validate him. This of course took a toll on his relationships. As he put on this façade he found it harder and harder to find meaningful relationships – especially when it came to romantic relationships.

Using his signature conversational, snarky, and imaginative style Donald shows us the important truth that you can only be as loved as you are known. He shows us that we don’t need to control every aspect of our lives – in fact when we try to do that we tend to destroy relationships. He shows us that being vulnerable can be scary but that its essential to being in loving relationships.

Basically this book is a way for Donald to say to the reader that in order to experience love – you have to get scary close – but that its completely worth it.

I enjoyed reading this book. I enjoyed his stories, adventures, and conversation with random people along the way. It’s a quick read, its light and refreshing.

(Note: I received this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an impartial review.)