Tag Archives: Religion

Review: Judas


By Amos Oz
Mariner Books, 9781328745491, November 2017, 320pp.

The Short of It:

Really made me think about religion in general. Was Judas a hero? In this book, Oz poses the question.

The Rest of It:

This was a book club pick. Going into it, I had few expectations because I really didn’t know much about it. I have to say, this was probably a good thing.

Jerusalem, 1959. Shmuel Ash, a biblical scholar, is adrift in his young life when he finds work as a caregiver for a brilliant but cantankerous old man named Gershom Wald. There is, however, a third, mysterious presence in his new home. Atalia Abravanel, the daughter of a deceased Zionist leader, a beautiful woman in her forties, entrances young Shmuel even as she keeps him at a distance. Piece by piece, the old Jerusalem stone house, haunted by tragic history and now home to the three misfits and their intricate relationship, reveals its secrets. ~ Indiebound

I found this book to be very good for discussion but not as enjoyable to read as I had hoped. The romantic element between two of the characters seemed a tad forced and not terribly realistic. I liked parts of the story. A young student, listening to stories and learning from an elder was appealing to me but Atalia was cold as ice. I never warmed to her.

The political elements were not excessive but provided enough background to give me a feel for the conflict of that region. As a discussion book, it was excellent. We had plenty to talk about. The possibility of Judas being a hero was something we had to wrap our brains around. Throughout history he has been recognized as a traitor. That brought up the question, what is a traitor and is being one always bad?

Interesting, huh? Well, that’s all I have. I will say that reading other books while reading this one was not possible so I’m glad this one is behind me but if your club needs a good discussion book, give this one a try.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Letters to the Church

Letters to the Church

Letters the the Church
By Francis Chan
David C Cook, 9780830776580, September 2018, 224pp.

The Short of It:

If you’ve ever questioned the concept of “church” and whether American churches succeed in carrying out their mission, then this is an excellent book to get you thinking.

The Rest of It:

Many of you might be familiar with Francis Chan but if not, I’ll give you a little bit of background. He founded Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, Ca. Cornerstone had humble beginnings but quickly grew into the megachurch that it is today.  As this was happening, Chan realized that although his numbers were impressive and people were pouring in, only a small percentage of the congregation was actually serving or using their God-given gifts.

This weighed heavily on him.

Chan knew this was not the purpose of the church and that he had failed its members by not building up his few. They relied on him to be fed and if that didn’t happen, they grew to be unsatisfied. They didn’t seem to know how to seek God out on their own. After discussing this with his wife, Chan made a difficult decision to leave the church. He packed up his family and left the country to pursue what he felt was missing at Cornerstone.

Letters to the Church is a collection of his findings and let me tell you, it’s a fascinating read. He talks about the value of in-home ministry. Much of the book talks about church “planting” and what he’s discovered through the years. As I was reading, I felt inspired to do more as a leader. I felt hopeful and encouraged.

But I felt that the book had a few issues as well.

For one, if you attend church, you will for sure see similarities between your own and Cornerstone. I feel as if the book was written in such a way that it would be impossible for you not to relate to it. Perhaps, it’s focus was too broad? A lot of churches today target the non-follower by adding cup holders, coffee houses, contemporary music and the like. Is this necessarily a bad thing?

The other thing that stood out is that Chan didn’t really seek the view points of others at Cornerstone before writing this book. If he did, he didn’t include them in it. So this is solely Chan’s view of the megachurch model. I think it would have been helpful to hear some other opinions of those from the U.S.

My life group is on a break between series so we decided to read and discuss this book during the break. I think it’s a very important read but I also think that while reading it, you could find yourself picking apart your own church which Chan admitted, was not his intention. For such a heavy topic, it’s very readable and will get you thinking about how you view the church as a whole.

Source: Purchased
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.