Response to Nate

26 02 2008

[refer to original post and comments at “The Apple You Were Fed”]

Nance,
I’ve read this book. I am going to throw in there that I have a degree in literature too, just to give some background on where I get off disagreeing with you.

**People disagree with me all the time — with and without degrees. I am a Mom. 🙂

To be sure, there are things that you’re saying with which I totally agree. Your review does seem a bit “harsh,” to use your word, which I suppose is the nature of a bad review. I will especially buy the whole “should have been labeled as an evangelical work” comment.

**Thanks. And that was the point of my comments. I originally became aware of this book when JJ posted about it in what I thought was a hopeful tone. She seemed to see a book about working across major differences to help each other through life’s difficulties. I was disappointed with what I found at the authors’ website though. I got the message there that the ONLY way to deal with difficulties was to find Jesus.

Not the encouraging idea that JJ thought she saw, at all.

You say:

“As sincere as these ladies sound in their beliefs, I don’t think they truly understand that all of the lessons they learned are just life lessons, which are learned, I hope, by all adults as they mature and have nothing to do with God or Jesus or any other religious icon. They are simply common sense adjustments to the reality we all face every day, some more difficult than others but none requiring magic of any kind.” I find this comment to make a little less sense than the rest of your review. The whole point of the book was that they failed to learn these lessons until they used God’s love to fill the void in their lives.”

**Yes, I agree, that is the point of the book. And not what I think we were initially led to believe it was about. I feel that the authors look at life’s issues and pretend that they can deal with them in a real-world way, but really their agenda is to assure us that they can’t and we can’t. That we need Jesus.

Furthermore, COME ON, “life lessons . . . are learned . . . by all adults as they mature”? They address alcoholism, infidelity, coldness, lack of self worth, etc. It would be nice if everyone learned how to overcome those problems without “God or Jesus . . . [or] magic,” but not everyone does. In fact, I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who recovered from these problems who swear by such hocus pocus as religion.

**Since you include the whole sentence I wrote above, let’s read it. I include the phrase “I hope” for a reason. Not everyone, of course, does deal well with life’s strains. And, as you suggest, some find comfort and strength in whatever magical thinking rocks their boat. My point is that none of that is necessary. And suggesting, as this book does, that accepting one set of religious beliefs is going to magically increase our ability to cope is a disservice.
There are parts of your review that are accurate. It was an evangelical book for sure, but when you attack their message, it ceases to be a book review and starts sounding a little more like a personal thing. For example, I think it’s a little cheap to keep using the word “fruity”. From what I’ve read that you’ve written, you seem above that. I haven’t read a ton on this site, but I will keep reading.

**I hope you do keep reading. And re-reading. I think you’ll find, for instance, that “fruity” was part of a quote from the authors. I agree it isn’t a great word choice.
**I don’t really understand how I could be expected to review this book without addressing their message — Jesus saves, evangelism is good, you need religion to cope, etc.

One thing I hated (especially when I was in college, private, liberal arts school) was all the shots people take at Christians.

**So were you raised a particular type of Christian? Had your ideas confronted when you reached college? Sounds like a pretty normal route to adulthood in this country. Some people continue to believe, many don’t.

**Which reminds me of the piece I heard on NPR yesterday about a Pew study on religious belief in the US.

**From the NPR summary:

“According to the study, more than one-quarter of American adults (28 percent) have left the faith in which they were raised in favor of another religion — or no religion at all. If change in affiliation from one type of Protestantism to another is included, 44 percent of adults have either switched religious affiliation, moved from being unaffiliated with any religion to being affiliated with a particular faith, or dropped any connection to a specific religious tradition altogether.

“The survey confirms that the United States is “at the doorstep” of becoming a minority Protestant country, Lugo says. He says mainline Protestantism has seen the greatest losses. Although a good number of Catholics also have left the church, immigration has helped keep the Catholic percentage steady, Lugo says.

“Among the winners in the survey are “unaffiliated” Americans. That group is gaining more members than it’s losing, Lugo says — but he points out that not everyone in that group is “unreligious.”

“”A good percentage of folks in that group tell us that religion is at least somewhat important in their lives, but they have become disassociated from institutionalized religion,” he says.

“Among Americans ages 18 to 29, one-in-four said they are not affiliated with any religion. “

You admit that their beliefs are sincere, but then, you make fun of them. I know that most Christians could stand to be more open-minded, and I believe that Andrea made that point in the book when she talked about the authoritarian church she attended for a long time.

**Yes, her “church” sounded more like some horrible cult.

Just as importantly, I think people who claim to be open-minded people tend to accept everything but Christianity. I am not calling you one of those people, but you take a shot at their “cushy” lifestyles, say their careers are “down the drain,” repeatedly call the read a waste of time then later say that you weren’t the intended audience (which, yeah, it would be a waste of time for the wrong audience; that’s what that means), and ask “who wants to pay for that,” when, from what I can gather, you received a free, review copy.

**The authors have been very gracious throughout, offering to send me a review copy and thanking me for my critique, on the blog and privately. As for the rest of this, I assure you I am as skeptical of other religions as I am of the claims of Christianity.

Again, I think they needed to drive home some of their points, and I think maybe a few other details could have been improved. I just think that your review of their book needs to be separated from whatever is underlying there.
Sorry to be so harsh of your review.
Sincerely,
N8

**Not harsh. Just from your point of view as, I’d guess, a Christian who perhaps isn’t sure where I stand. I am an atheist who had hoped this was a book about working together despite religious differences, as I think is suggested by the authors.
It is not.

Nance

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4 responses

26 02 2008
JJ

Nance wrote:
“**People disagree with me all the time — with and without degrees.”

So doing it without, would be to “dis-a-degree”? 😉

27 02 2008
NanceConfer

I guess so. 🙂

And thanks for posting this. And cleaning up my typos. I didn’t really have time to get that far yesterday.

Nance

27 02 2008
JJ

Were you affected by the Great Blackout in south Florida yesterday?

27 02 2008
JJ

“[Lugo] says mainline Protestantism has seen the greatest losses.”

What I’ve seen in the South and experienced personally, has been a long, polarizing campaign of chasing off moderate, reasonable, socially well-integrated people — not losing them at all, but making them increasingly uncomfortable and then pushing them out. More like what people say about their political party of choice, that “I didn’t abandon it, it abandoned ME.”

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