09 November 2008

I'm All for Sinning Boldly

Edited: Cathleen commented on my book review. Totally made my day!

Here's a snippet I love.

"As I understand it:
Justice is getting what you deserve.
Mercy is not getting what you deserve.
And grace is getting what you absolutely don't deserve.

Benign goodwill. Unprovoked compassion. The unearnable gift.

Scads of writers and theologians have tried to describe grace, but I think musicians usually get closer to capturing it, sometimes with words, sometimes not. Two of the best attempts I've ever heard are both found in songs. The first is from Bono of U2, in the song he titled, "Grace," lest anyone be confused about what he was getting at.

"Grace, she takes the blame, she covers the shame, removes the stain," he sings, in a simple tune that sounds almost like a nursery rhyme. "She travels outside of karma... Grace makes beauty out of ugly things."

Yeah, he nails it. That's grace.

But so is what is described in this short lyric from an old Indigo Girls song that may or may not be about spiritual rebirth. It's my favorite idea of grace: "There was a time I asked my father for a dollar," they sing, "and he gave it a $10 raise."

So on the night before Thanksgiving, I moved back to the couch and the TV with my lovely, cheesy lasagna and my spiritual $10 raise to contemplate the recent happy turn of events. My movie was almost over and Bruce (from "Bruce Almighty") was lying in a hospital bed, having just been snatched from the clutches of death by a team of doctors and a pair of defibrillators.

Bruce, who literally had been playing God for a few weeks, looks up at a bag of donated blood being pumped into his veins, and we know what he's thinking. Earlier in the film, he mocked his girlfriend -- her name is Grace (played ever-so-graciously by Jennifer Aniston) -- for organizing a blood drive.

Bruised, bloodied, and realizing the irony of the situation, Bruce hears a voice and turns to see his long-suffering girlfriend standing in the hospital doorway.

"Graaaaace!" Bruce says, smiling weakly as tears begins to fill his eyes.

Exactly, I thought with big fat tears running down my own cheeks.

Grace has a way of sneaking up on you like that. When you least deserve it."

Gotta love real people. Real Christians with flaws and wrinkles and imperfections. To me there are few things more unattractive than people who pretend to have it all together. If you're "perfect" all by your very own self, you have no need for the grace of Jesus! So, I absolutely love intelligent, funny, real Christians. Can't get enough of 'em.

I also love really great books. Books that make you crawl inside them, live the story, laugh, cry, be inspired, be exhorted and challenged spiritually, and that make you dwell on them at length later. Far too many Christian books are blah blah blah religiosity, blah blah blah here's what I do better than you, blah blah blah, or they're completely impenetrable. Generally, sad to say, I avoid most Christian literature. Snoozeville. Bo-ring. It seems that Christians bookstores are filled with books on "Christian living" which are almost always far too frothy and surface oriented.

Caveat, that criticism does not extend to exegetical or hermeneutical material. Obviously, theological teaching material is tremendously useful and necessary. And, some Christian authors I read every single thing they churn out with my highlighter in hand. I deeply respect them, appreciate their teaching, and would so enjoy having dinner with them some time to pick their brains. Brennan Manning, J.I. Packer, Randy Alcorn, Stott, Cloud, Yancey, Sproul, Willard to name a few of my favorites. Also, I'm related to some truly spectacular Christian authors... many actually. I admire every single one of them. We are blessed to have many smarty-pants, godly authors in our family.

I do wish there was more truly excellent, readable, meaty material in Christian bookstores, though.

Here's my pitch: Cathleen Falsani is wicked awesome. She is clearly a very real, flawed, funny, Jesus-loving, and people-loving Christian. Her book, written in an easy-read, short story format just like you were chatting over the back fence challenged my ideas about God's extension of grace. It made me long for more of Jesus, more knowledge of the Word, and more grace for those around me. Besides that, I think she'd be a hoot on a road trip.

Sin Boldly is a completly new look at grace. Real grace. Read it.


Kristi J said...

wow..that looks awesome!!! I can't wait to read again...It has been years since I"ve read a book..I used to love it..then 4 babies in 5years made me fall asleep every time I was still enough to read..I can't wait to get back to it, kristi

Lori said...

Oh it sounds great! It seems very similar to the teen vampire series that I'm obsessed with! ;)

You're always inspiring Laur, and a fantastic writer to boot!

The Albertsons said...

that sounds great... thanks for the suggestion! just came to you from another blog... sorry you've had to deal with some anonymous stuff, too. hang in there. your blog is full of truth and encouragement.
take care-

they call me . . . "god girl" said...

oh my goodness. thank you so much for your marvelous words. i'm so glad you enjoyed the book. and you, too, are clearly wicked awesome.

grace and peace,

Hauswife said...

Holy cow! Cathleen, I'm honored to have you comment! By the way, we have a couple of friends in common: Trent Adams and Curtis Yates. Fun, huh?

Erica said...

OOOO yet another book to add to my list of reads.

Jana said...

Grace upon grace in my life over here. This sounds like a great book! Thanks.

"Thy free grace alone
from the first to the last
hath won my affection
and bound my soul fast."

Jana said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jana said...

ooo, I think I need this book!! Awesome! And you are a fine writer yourself!!!

Kim said...

I will add this to my Christmas wish list. Thanks for the great post! Blessings, Kim