Book Chat

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This month, I’ve been reading …

heaven is for realI finally got around to reading one of the books everyone is talking about, “Heaven is For Real,” in this case.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s the tale of a 3-year-old boy who has an emergency appendectomy and tells his parents of how he visited heaven during the experience.

What did little Colton learn? Well, in heaven no one wears glasses. No one is old, and everyone has wings. There are many animals there, as well as the angel Gabriel, the virgin Mary (who he saw kneeling before Jesus), and John the Baptist. He also encountered the sister his mom had miscarried a few years prior (he had not known of her before), and saw his dad’s deceased grandpa.

I’m a little unsure of what I thought about this book. Yes, I know that it’s a huge comfort to many. I *hope* that Colton really saw all the things he did, yet I’m always a little skeptical. His dad is a pastor, and while his dad (who also wrote the book) claims he had never mentioned any of the things Colton “saw” to him, much of his revelation seems a bit too neat (for instance, Jesus wore a white robe with a diagonal purple sash).

Still, if “Heaven is for Real” leads more people to Jesus, that can only be a good thing. Eh, I’ll give it a B.

Thanks to BookSneeze for the opportunity to review this book.


"decision points" "george w bush"Most of the month was spent reading George W. Bush’s memoir, “Decision Points.”

I’m of a mixed mind regarding Bush. Especially towards the end of his presidency, I became a bit disillusioned with many of his policies, which leaned towards big-spending, government intervention. The book reinforced this. On one page, Bush explained that he wanted to get into politics because he saw the government becoming too large, spending too much, and acting too intrusively. Two pages later, he boasted about signing a bill (with Ted Kennedy – is that a good thing?) requiring insurance companies to cover various new things. Um, hello – how do these two things coexist? So there was that dichotomy, which was pretty much my big problem with Bush all along.

The book reads easily, and I felt like I was having a conversation with Bush as I read. I appreciated the hardships he faced. He mentions being very aware that his presidency would be judged based on whether we were attacked again after 9/11: if we were, his efforts would be deemed insufficient. If we weren’t, his actions would be judged overkill. Indeed, this does seem to be the case (Guantanamo, Patriot Act, etc). I found myself wondering who would even want to be president.

On a related note, so many things are going on around a president that often I felt a bit frustrated for Bush. He mentions the financial meltdown that happened near the end of his term and I found myself wondering how could something this major happen without the president knowing so he could take action? But then I thought of how busy he was with Iraq, Afghanistan, you name it – it made me wonder how much else is just swept under the rug until it’s too late.

And sometimes Bush cast certain programs in glowing terms, for instance the No Child Left Behind legislation. He touts the program as a glowing success, yet as a teacher I’ve never heard a positive thing about it – just complaints about its aims to bring all kids up to a level that many will never reach. It reinforced that I guess you can prove anything if you’re choosy with your statistics and anecdotes.

Overall, though, the book strengthened my feeling that Bush is a decent, honorable man who did what he thought was best for our nation to the very best of his ability. I like him, and I enjoyed reading this book.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.


why men hate going to church

Why Men Hate Going to Church isn’t the type of book I’d normally pick up — it was actually sent to me accidentally, but once I paged through it I’ll admit I was intrigued. Murrow posits that the church is woefully empty of young men (he does admit that older men attend church in much greater proportion). Why? He goes through many things that are common in church that a lot of men just aren’t “into”: singing. Reading aloud. Praying aloud. He is big into ranting on the church’s emphasis on a “personal relationship with Jesus” – he suggests that the idea of having a “personal relationship” with another man – even if that man is Jesus – is something that is inherently icky to many men. This kind of made sense to me, and maybe my testosterone level is up because I’ll admit that a lot of the touchy-feeliness that’s so popular in churches these days gives me pause as well.

Interesting read!


i love to tell the story susan barnett braun christian memoir

I’m excited that the culmination of much of my efforts this year is now available on Kindle (and within a week or so, will be out in paperback as well): my childhood memoir, I Love to Tell the Story.

Is it possible to emerge unscathed from an evangelical upbringing? Yes, as surely as David slew Goliath!

“I Love to Tell the Story” is Susan Barnett Braun’s account of growing up Baptist in a small midwestern town, touching on many cultural icons common to those who came of age in the 1970s. Braun recounts childhood obstacles, which loom as large as the walls of Jericho in her eyes. She encounters a trio of Sunday school mean girls who make King Herod look tame. She worries about being “ugly as sin” due to her chubbiness, glasses, and braces. She’s so consumed with the idea of Jesus’ imminent return that she wonders whether it’s even worthwhile to brush her teeth at night.

Humorous, poignant, and ultimately triumphant, “I Love to Tell the Story” will stay with readers long after the last Vacation Bible School craft stick cross has fallen apart.

I hope you’ll enjoy it. If you grew up in a Christian church, were a child during the mid ’60s to mid ’80s, or grew up in the Midwest … I think you will.



8 thoughts on “Book Chat

  1. Though I am NOT an avid reader, your book reviews are always interesting to read. How very exciting that you are featuring YOUR book this time! Doesn’t get better than that! Congratulations!

  2. I tend to agree with you on Bush – I think he’s a decent person who did what he thought was right – and I think he found himself backed into a few corners where he had to make some compromises that were, perhaps, well, compromising. I’ve been thinking of checking his memoir out – my library has it as an audiobook. I get most of my best reading done while walking the dog. 😉

  3. I think Bush is a decent guy–typical of many of the attorneys I’ve worked with over the years. The frat boy kind. I think his faith is real, too.

    My review is up!

  4. I totally agree with what you’re saying about “Heaven Is Real.”

    I’ve been wanting to read Decision Points. I can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to be President either.

    I’ve been wavering on asking for Why Men Hate…as a review copy, but this may push me over the edge to go ahead and do so.

    And you have your own book??? Wow!!! That’s wonderful.

  5. I have a copy of Decision Points which I intend to read when the dust settles. I’d also like to read Heaven is for Real. I’m sure I don’t want to read Why Men Hate Going to Church. From your review, I’m sure it would raise my blood pressure!

  6. “I found myself wondering who would even want to be president.” – Agreed!

    I read the old version of Why Men Hate Going to Church. It totally resonated with me. The action plan didn’t seem quite attainable when you only have a couple people in a church of 300 who are willing to say anything. Maybe this new version has an improved action plan for making a difference.

    “She’s so consumed with the idea of Jesus’ imminent return that she wonders whether it’s even worthwhile to brush her teeth at night.” This was me and I was born in the early 80’s! I always said things like “Well, I really hope Jesus comes soon. Everyone says He will and the signs are there! But I really want to graduate from 8th grade! I really want to get my drivers’ license. I really want my first kiss! What if I never get to experience marriage?” Prophecy sermons were always about the statue in Daniel and about how we are living in the toenails, no the toe scum between the toes, and the only thing left in earth’s history is Christ’s return! 🙂

  7. I read Heaven is for Real and feel the same as you do really. I have thought about Bush’s book and your book on Kindle looks good. Good luck with it!


  8. Congrats on your memoir!

    We have Bush’s book — my husband bought it, but I don’t know if he’s read it yet.

    And am I the only one who thinks “Jesus” looks a little like Kenny Loggins???

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