The following are reviews of books that are theological nonfiction.
Title: Overrated: Are We More in Love With the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?
Author: Eugene Cho
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Received via NetGalley
Many people today talk about justice but are they living justly? They want to change the world but are they being changed themselves?
Eugene Cho has a confession: "I like to talk about changing the world but I don't really like to do what it takes." If this is true of the man who founded the One Day's Wages global antipoverty movement, then what must it take to act on one's ideals? Cho does not doubt the sincerity of those who want to change the world. But he fears that today's wealth of resources and opportunities could be creating "the most overrated generation in history. We have access to so much but end up doing so little."
He came to see that he, too, was overrated. As Christians, Cho writes, "our calling is not simply to change the world but to be changed ourselves." In Overrated, Cho shows that it is possible to move from talk to action.
This was such a powerful book. It was so well-spoken for this day and age, with a convicting message. Cho speaks with a truth and honesty, that while it may be hard to hear, needs to be heard.
Shut up, pray, listen
That's the recurring motto throughout the book. Cho starts off by making some pretty bold statements, about how we as Christians like to say we want to change the world, but don't actually do it. He reiterates that he isn't judging anyone, but that he preaches to himself as well. Cho is speaking to a generation who thinks bringing awareness to an issue consists of posting a 10-second video on Instagram. But while there's nothing wrong with that, it's not really helping either.
Don't just tell us what you're against. Demonstrate what you're about. Fascinate us. Compel us. Invite us. Help us reimagine a better story. -94% of eARC
But Cho isn't just here to yell at us. By sharing parts of his story with us, he also shows us that he really is living what he is sharing. He believes this. He's not preaching about what we should do, but simply telling us what he is doing. And he does this with his signature wit and humor (and #hashtags).
Every chapter held a convicting message. Cho teaches us about justice, and what is really means as a Christian. He talks about idolatry of money. Some may get offended, but he also talks about helping others, and when we actually aren't. He may speak some hard truths, but they come from a place of love and teaching. And most of all, he teaches us that what we think God wants us to do to help others, He is actually using to change us.
I know that I have already started reevaluating my life, and the choices I make on a daily basis. This book is one that I would seriously consider a life-changer, and I hope you allow it to change and shape you.
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Title: The First Time We Saw Him: Awakening to the Wonder of Jesus
Author: Matt Mikalatos
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Received via Publisher
Scripture tells us that the words of Jesus made people uncomfortable, confused, angry, repentant, worshipful, and riotous. Today, we read the words of Christ in a steady, even tone and find ourselves wondering if maybe we're missing something. Could it be that we've lost the emotional power of Jesus's words simply because we're too familiar with them?
With incredible insight into the surprising and unsettling aspects of Jesus's parables and life, Matt Mikalatos reimagines familiar stories and parables in a modern-day setting, bringing alive for the contemporary reader all the controversy and conflict inherent in the originals. These emotional, sometimes humorous, and jaw-dropping retellings include the stories of the prodigal son, the good Samaritan, the lost coin, the feeding of the 5,000, the death and resurrection of Jesus, and more, asking provocative questions like "What would be the modern equivalent of Jesus letting a "sinful woman" wash his feet? Who would be the hero of "The Good Samaritan"? How would Jesus tell the parable of the lost sheep in a city like Portland?"
This was definitely such an interesting concept. The gospel stories reimagined in modern day parables. And I think it worked, mostly.
Mikalatos starts with the birth of Jesus--Joshua, in this case, and goes until the resurrection and beyond. The stories aren't super changed or anything, just names changed and transported into modern-day. But it did suffice to bring it into a new light. So often, we forget the stories, and how they apply to us. "But we have no Pharisees nowadays, it's not the same thing." Well, Mikalatos shows us that it is the same thing.
Of course, there are going to be problems when translating Jesus into the modern day. But for what he could do, I think Mikalatos did a good job. The author's commentary is inserted to help us understand each story, and truly remind us of the wonder of Jesus.
...when people say, "Where was God?" I ask myself, "Where was I?" I'm his representative. When people ask, "Where was God?" God's people should ask, "Where were we?" -page 134
Although I wouldn't say this was very challenging, per se. But, I do think that it did what it set out to do, in making us rethink and reawaken to the wonder that is Jesus. So many times in our Christian walk, can we become stale, or not fully understand. But this will open your eyes and bring a new understanding to the gospel stories.
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