Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Book Review: When "Spiritual But Not Religious" Is Not Enough by Lillian Daniel

When I saw this book available on NetGalley, I was very intrigued by the title.  It's something that people tend to say a lot, but hard to pin down as a specific world-view.  Daniel is a progressive liberal minister who pastors a UCC church and she unpacks the meaning of this phrase in one of the essays included in this book, along with other thoughts on faith and culture.

I was really impressed with the author's writing.  I think she tackles sensitive topics in a clear, level-headed way that doesn't alienate those on either end of the spectrum.  At the same time, she doesn't come across as intimidated by the need to meet expectations or limited in her willingness to challenge popular opinion. Some essays were weaker than others, but I think that's the norm for any collection.  I would certainly compare her writing style and depth of insight with authors like Donald Miller or Rob Bell.

Entertainment Value
Again, as with any collection of spiritually-minded essays, some appealed to me more than others.  I particularly enjoyed the title essay, "An Honest Prayer", "We and They", "Sing Sing", and "Please Stop Boring Me".  Theologically I'm not always on the same page as the author, but I didn't feel that that kept me from understanding or gaining insight from her essays.  In fact, what I appreciated most about her essays were the recognition of multiple points of view within the Christian faith and her move to embrace religion and doctrine, instead of following the fad of rejecting anything "organized".  At the same time, she is honest and willing to examine the failings of the church as a whole.

I highly recommend giving this one a try.  I thoroughly enjoyed the read and came away with some applications for my own life and a wealth of new ideas to consider.

A few quotes relating to the title essay and the importance of organized religion, as well as answer themes that I see as very timely for religion today and in my own life:

"There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself.  What is interesting is doing this work in a community, where other people might call you on stuff or, heaven forbid, disagree with you.  Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition you did not invent all for yourself."

"You can be open-minded and still know what you think.  You can be accepting of other people's ideas and still articulate your own."

1 comment:

  1. The story structure of the book make this a quick and enjoyable read. The Equation book