“I don’t know if I should help you or euthanize you.”
The Berggren Bottom Line: Crazy, Stupid, Love is sweet, smart, and moving. It is not carefree and lighthearted. Instead, it humorously brings the viewer through the monotony and difficulties of relationships. The story weaves through this maze of the grey areas of life with intelligence and depth. It made me laugh, reflect, and want to be a better person. Truth be told, it even threw dust in my eyes a couple times. This is a great film and you should see it.
Crazy. That’s what life is.
Stupid. That’s what we can become if we aren’t vigilant in the most important areas of our lives.
Love. It all seems to converge here. If we say we love, but our actions and words do not perpetually represent this, it dies.
Crazy, Stupid, Love is not just a movie. It is a very entertaining and worthwhile message about marriage and family. Yes, this is a great date movie. But you will carry it with you home as you process your own life in light of the circumstances and outcomes it presented…
“I, Hal Jordan, do pledge allegiance to a lantern that I got from a dying purple alien in a swamp.” -Hal Jordan
The Berggren Bottom Line: This movie is the kind of ‘green’ movement I’m in to. No touchy-feely tree-hugging-hybrid-Subaru-driving here. Just muscle car and jet fighter energy vanquishing an easy-to-hate mega villain.
When I was growing up, Green Lantern was my second favorite superhero. I’m not sure what the Lantern had that I liked that made him second only to Superman, but I even learned how to fold a dollar bill into a ring that resembled his own. Now, I’m not totally versed in GL mythology. I only had about eight comic books that I amassed between 11 and 12, but then it happened. I started to like girls, so my Green Lantern interest faded. But I’ve always liked the Green Lantern.
Ironically, the Green Lantern movie had many reminders of the original Superman movie circa 1978 starring Christopher Reeve. I’m not sure if that was purposeful, but it worked. In the opening scenes, like Superman, Green Lantern opens up with visuals of outer space accompanied by narration. This was tactful and smart. It teed up the whole story for the novice and Dragon Con nerd fan alike. In addition, much of the background music had echoes of the Superman soundtrack. It was eerie—but fine by me.
Green Lantern was intense. The superhero genre lives somewhere between sci-fi and fantasy, and Lantern leaned toward the sci-fi. It even had slight hints of horror in how it depicted evil. It maintained vivid images of a dark and demonic-feeling throughout. In fact, I’d compare the darkness in it to that of the first Hellboy movie. The villain literally sucked the souls out of its victims feeding on their fear. And that’s what the story centered around…
“No one in this family has any imagination!” -Judy Moody
The Berggren Bottom Line: Judy Moody seemed like a wannabe combination of Dr. Seuss, Superfudge, and Pippi Longstocking for modern audiences, but it lacked any of the originality of those tales. This movie was not worth its weight in a box office ticket and treat prices for the family. Save yourself and go for a bike ride.
First, let me make it clear that my dislike for this film is not because it is for kids. In my bio you will see several kids films listed as my favorites. Second, let me say I am not familiar with the Judy Moody book(s) that this movie is based upon. I know nothing of them. They seem to be very popular and are probably very good, but this movie wasn’t.
The movie begins very promising. It starts on the last day of school before the summer starts. Everyone knows that’s the best day of school. Unfortunately, Judy gets ‘bummed’ because she finds out her best friends aren’t going be home for the summer. So they won’t be there to adventure with her. She’s destined for a bummer summer and audiences are destined for a bummer movie–literally…
“It happened again.” -Stu from Hangover 2.
The Berggren Bottom Line: The Wolfpack is back and things are more chaotic than ever. This post-fraternity crew of dudes is still trying to fight off adulthood and they’re not doing a very good job of it. Once again, they frantically try to clean up the after effects of their latest binge turned nightmare. Crass but hilarious. Gross but endearing. The meltdowns, shockers, and potty jokes come together to create a hearty and well-done sequel to the original. Hangover 2 adds to the overall saga, while standing on its own.
Let’s be honest, like the first Hangover, Hangover 2 isn’t a high concept movie. It isn’t a move for other movie-makers and artists. It isn’t a movie for critics. This is a movie made for people who like to go to movies–and it succeeds. In fact, the first Hangover is the most rented movie in history. Can you believe that? No, Hangover 2 isn’t quite as good, but this sequel is a solid tribute to the first.
We begin the opening scene accompanied with a Danzig song. Does it get any better? The build-up is a bit longer this time around, but soon enough the realization of the fall-out begins. Johnny Cash’s “The Beast In Me” plays perfectly in the background, as the camera pans around the sweaty, dirty shock-and-awe. “I’ll be back in 20 minutes” were Stu’s famous last words to his bride (he’s getting married this time) the night before. Yah, not so much, especially considering the humongous Stu shocker. Whoops! That’s all you get on plot and story from me. (And does it really matter anyway? This isn’t exactly a sequel to Dune.)
Love Wins is “A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived” by Rob Bell. This is important stuff for sure, which is why I tackle it in my book, 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith, as well. So I come to this review with some knowledge on the subject. If you’re interested on a comparison you can download my chapter on Hell here for free.
In a way, Rob has been part of my life for eight years. I have read nearly all of his books, used several of his NOOMA videos as a basis for small group discussions, and listened to hundreds of his teachings (last week I explained why I stopped listening to him on July 29th, 2007, which is another story altogether). I have deep affection and great respect for Rob. It is hard not to. That is why this review is so difficult.
That being said, let me begin by stating what I agree with in Love Wins:
• God is love and more generous than we can comprehend
• People we don’t expect to see in Heaven will be there
• People we expect to be in Hell may not be there
• We are commissioned to bring healing to this earth with our lives
• Our eternal destiny will ultimately be of our own choosing, either Heaven or Hell
• God is displeased with misrepresentations of his character and nature by his alleged followers
• Yes, is his fairness, God will allow children, the mentally challenged, and the Pygmy in Africa (or anyone else) who has not had the chance to decide on Jesus into Heaven
Beyond that, Love Wins is ambiguous, dangerous, and angry.
I wanted to like Love Wins. I really wanted to like it. But I didn’t. That doesn’t mean Love Wins is poorly written, dull, or unoriginal. On the contrary! In true Bell fashion, it is passionate, deep, and relevant. But if a movie has forced acting, a half-baked story, yet manages to come through with stellar special affects, it is still a bad movie. With all the perfect expressions, appealing conversational tones, and deep passion, Love Wins left me confused and frustrated—to such a degree, in fact, I still cannot determine what the book is truly about. Other than ‘talking’ about this stuff, I cannot figure out what the overall point is.
Love Wins is purposely ambiguous. It poses many questions and answers very few. While Bell loves to try to emulate Jesus by answering questions with questions, he misses one BIG thing: an answer always came when Jesus was around. Jesus simply posed questions that invoked a pre-existing answer in the heart of the individual. Jesus also had another approach; he would enter the temple and teach from the Scriptures, explaining and answering in great detail.
Jesus wasn’t at all ambiguous on the essentials, nor evasive; he was not ‘hard to pin down.’ Jesus provided clarity at a time, and to subjects, that desperately needed it. So much so that we are still talking about his answers 2,000 years later. It’s very fashionable to pose questions, remain distant, and commit to nothing. To most, it sounds enlightened (and keeps everyone liking you), but it’s also insincere and elusive.
Love Wins is dangerous because its use and explanation of Scripture is manipulative. Sure, if a person has a pulse, then that person has a bias. We are all prone to interpret the Bible through whatever lens or worldview we have. But when a bias becomes an agenda, or even activism, with regard to Scripture, it can become very dangerous.
For example, Bell does not seem to believe in a Hell with flames of any sort or at any level, as most of traditional Christianity has held for the last 2,000 years. He believes it will be either a state (or condition) we create through our actions and choices or just a separation from God. (I elaborate on all three in great detail in the chapter on Hell in my book.)
So while explaining the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus as told by Jesus in Luke 16:19-31, Bell deals a fatal blow to the meaning of it. His assessment? This is not really a parable about Hell and the afterlife. It’s about the Rich Man holding on to his pride, status, and cultural hierarchy, because, even in his torment, he wants Lazarus, the beggar, to ‘serve’ him. For some reason, the Rich Man begging for a cool drop of water on his tongue because he “is in agony in this fire” or his plea for a special warning to his family about the potential torment in the afterlife goes completely ignored by Bell. Sure, pride can be an application of this story, but it is not the thrust. It merely serves to accentuate the seriousness of the afterlife, since the Rich (Jewish) Man is in the torments of Hell, while the (Gentile) beggar is in Heaven. It is clearly a warning about Hell and the afterlife.
Bell appears to courageously jump to the end of Revelation, since it cannot be ignored when talking about Hell. He elaborates on all the great descriptions of Heaven and healing and being reconciled with God—we all love this stuff. Unfortunately, he conveniently ignores the whole “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:15)
There is more, but Love Wins tumbles like a house of cards on these two areas of Scripture alone. What exactly are we being saved from then? Just our bad habits and attitudes? Bell enjoys blasting the reader with an assault of seemingly contradictory verses. Then, while the reader is dazed, confused, and off-guard, he seizes the emotional moment to introduce a controversial view. It leaves the person feeling like, “Of course this must be true…I must be an idiot if I don’t agree with it.” The Bible is filled with apparent contradictions, if you are willing to bastardize and ignore context. It is a manipulative and condescending tactic to use, since it attempts to trick the reader into agreement.
Love Wins is angry because it has all the makings of an immature, rebellious teenager trying to teach his overbearing old-fashioned parents a lesson about the new ways of the world. First and foremost, if you (or any Christian) believe that Jesus is absolutely essential to salvation or in a literal Hell with flames, Rob would like you to know that you are helping perpetuate a ‘strain’ of Christianity that is destructive, violent, toxic, venomous, and abusive. Got it?
While Bell presents himself as very magnanimous in interviews and graciously expresses that he has no desire to call out or criticize his detractors, he has done far more in this book. Bell uses fighting words throughout. If believing 1) the name of Jesus is essential and 2) there is a literal Hell with flames, makes me a fundamentalist, pre-modern, unenlightened, barbaric, blind, villainous, and idiotic, then so be it—although I would dispute the charges. Sound at all passive aggressive? It is. I know because I ‘are’ one.
So apparently all you crotchety, outdated, grandpa-like Christians need to realize (or else!):
• When God says He will reconcile all creation to Himself, He means everyone can get into Heaven regardless of your belief in Jesus
• God will let people decide to accept Jesus even after death, if necessary He will take as long as needed to convince them to come in
• You’re making people think Jesus came to rescue us from God, whom you seem to think is hot-tempered, switches modes, and is inconsistent
• While there needs to be room in Christianity for a wide range of opinions and views, there just isn’t room for your finite views on Hell, sin, or salvation
• Don’t worry about confessing the name of Jesus to be saved, just make sure you are living His story out in your own life
• There is a vein of God’s story in every culture, so whatever that plan of salvation is, it is perfectly acceptable to God and don’t judge them either
• Jesus died on the cross because that’s what they needed and understood back then, and that wouldn’t need to happen today since we’re, like, way more smarter than that
• Being ‘spiritual’ is probably enough for God, so don’t worry so much about being Biblical
• The Hippies had it right because it is actually possible to meet Jesus through smoking pot
• If Jesus and Christianity have put a bad taste in someone’s mouth, God doesn’t necessarily need them to follow Him because wherever they find truth is fine with Him
It’s funny, I commented on the last idea in my book a couple of years ago:
Since discussing God and Jesus can so often be divisive, why not create a new secular humanist faith that avoids all that? One that’s totally dedicated to promoting good deeds and good will among all. This would probably be more readily accepted. Coexistence and harmony between all creation—man, animals, and environment—would create universal peace and a heavenly state. Who could argue with that? This less offensive, more congenial religion would probably have more impact on society and culture as a whole. All we have to do is leave God and Jesus out of the equation. No biggie.
I guess my overall problem is that I read Love Wins in the context of Rob Bell being a pastor, not a writer. One of the primary roles of a pastor is to bring clarity, predictability, and truth whenever possible. But I suppose this isn’t really feasible if you believe all truth contains a vein of the truth and is therefore equally true. This explains the evasiveness and confusion. I do not believe Bell to be willfully deceptive, but I do believe he is still knowingly guarded in his opinions. He should simply be more honest, rather than opting for the creative guise of cool and distant. You just can’t have it both ways—or should I say all ways.
Bell admittedly likes to interpret Scripture as pliable and versatile (his words) if at all possible. This takes particular shape if a Scripture is especially uncomfortable. In doing so, he unavoidably opts for the guilt-free feel-good trappings of moral relativism and philosophical pluralism. I wish I could do the same. I wish it were all true and this easy. But in his framework, the Hebrew story of God and the Christian experience with God is of no affect and no importance, since following Jesus specifically or confessing his name is not totally essential. In fact, why should I even follow Jesus if everyone gets a pass in the end? Because he was really nice or said neat stuff? So what. So did a lot of historical figures. Why not live a life if debauchery and hedonism? Basically, it doesn’t really matter, right?
These thoughts fill me with great sadness. Why? Because based on what Bell says, God cannot hold us to his own standard, since He will not hold Himself to His own words.
I can make no other conclusions, according to what Rob has presented, than:
1. Love doesn’t win because there is no true choice and subsequent consequence (and this is what the nature of love is built on).
2. Christianity loses the very punch line of the ‘Greatest Story Ever Told’, since Jesus is not essential to the story.
3. God is a liar because he has called us to righteousness (and to follow Jesus) while rewarding apathy.
I am left wondering, what the heck is Christianity, what does it mean to be a Christian, and does that even matter? How does love win? Love should win because God sent his son to be a substitutionary atonement for our sins and to save us from them and Hell: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). That is the extent of His love. Nowhere does Bell make that abundantly clear. To me, that is the real story behind Heaven, Hell, and the fate of every person whoever lived.
I love Rob, but I hate Love Wins.
“For those who fight for it, life has a flavor that those who don’t will never know.”
-from the movie Sucker Punch. I have started writing reviews for iRATEfilms.com. My first review is for the movie Sucker Punch releasing today. So here is my review:
Pretty girls scantily outfitted in leather with lots of big weapons fighting samurai, Nazi’s, zombies, ghouls, dragons, and robots. For some that is enough. But I’m no longer 15. I need a bit more.
In Sucker Punch, Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300, Dawn of the Dead) has created a film that vacillates between reality and fantasy, fantasy and reality, and fantasy and fantasy. But it isn’t as confusing as it sounds. It’s all about “girl power” sticking it to the man (literally) in the thick of fantastical battlegrounds.
Textured with impressive special effects and 80’s songs remade (which I really liked), it clearly strives to be trendy. My favorite background song was the remake of “Asleep” by The Smiths. There is hardly a more ethereal and moody song. It was the perfect selection for the main character, Babydoll, lamenting her new demise in an insane asylum waiting for an unnecessary lobotomy. It was also the perfect fit and set-up for the film overall—perhaps even the most powerful moment in the film. It was also great to hear Björk make an appearance on the soundtrack as well…
It’s been 21 months since the release of my first book. Still, reviews are coming in on occasion. Below is a recent review. What I love about this one is that the reader is not a Christian. Incidentally, yes I want to write another book. Yes, I have an idea (several, in fact). But I still haven’t recouped my costs from the first book. Until this happens, everything is in a relative hold position. Anyway, here is the review:
The book title sounds a little scary, but after reading it I discovered that Jason, the author, and I are almost cut from the same cloth. Quite frankly I enjoyed it. Very much. It was kind of like Jason read my mind and put some of my thoughts on paper. I liked his writing style, pretty good for a first attempt at writing his own book. I found it humorous and genuine. It was refreshing to hear some of his struggles are common with mine and my peers. I am not a Christian. Doubt I ever will be. But there are a lot of “Christian” values that happen to be shared by the rest of the world that I do hold dear. Not sure I should refer to them as “Christian” values since they don’t own them, although many act like they do. It does an excellent job expressing the frustration that comes with belonging to a group with many misguided members. Anyway, thought I would pass along a compliment because I think the book deserves one. -reviewed by John from the Northeast
So yesterday I stumbled across this post from another site from this past weekend. It’s a site about books people should be reading. The writer was musing about books she is thankful for. And not just for the year. She is thankful for them in a much broader sense–overall. Here’s a portion:
…Then there’s a set of authors I’m grateful for: Rob Bell, Erwin R. McManus, Steve Brown, Ed Gungor, and Jason T. Berggren. All of these authors write “out-of-the-box” compared to the usual “evangelical Christian” nonfiction. They aren’t afraid to tell it like it really is. And, I’ve appreciated that. It’s really given me hope.
Wow! It is quite an honor to be thrown in with these other authors who write about their faith in such an honest and compelling way. It is much appreciated.
Last year I reviewed From Eternity To Hear by Frank Viola. As a result, I was asked to review his most recent book Jesus Manifesto: Reclaiming The Supremacy And Sovereignty Of Jesus Christ co-authored with church futurist Leonard Sweet.
When something like this happens I always wrestle with the tension of what to do. How honest should I be? If I’m too honest, will I perhaps offend people who are much more well-known than I? Will I miss out on future opportunities or connections as a result? Or if I’m not honest enough, am I compromising my integrity and the high value I have on healthy, open, and honest dialogue (what I believe to be the most productive and constructive)? Will I be true to my Unauthorized Approach To Christianity? I couldn’t decide. I never can. So here I go.
Let me be brutally honest right up front: I didn’t want to like the Jesus Manifesto book.
It’s not because I thought it would resemble the Communist Manifesto (review forthcoming). It’s because I gave 5 years of the best years of my life helping to start and build a church. It was one of the best experiences of my life. But it was also one of the most difficult–and one of the reasons I’m not still part of that effort today. I have a great deal of respect for people who stick with it. Sure, there are lots of ministers, priests, and pastors caught up in scandals. The media loves that stuff because it gives them juicy material and devalues the role of faith in our society. But overall, most of these individuals (not the jerks in the news) are just good sacrificial souls who live with less and live on less in order to share with their communities how much God loves them.
So why does this matter?
To me, Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet often seem to position themselves as curmudgeons of the modern church at large in America. Don’t get me wrong, it deserves much of the criticism. And I know this may seem humorous coming from a guy who wrote a book called 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith. But there is a difference between being a skeptic and a cynic–there is a difference between being recklessly critical and a healthy skepticism. Although my book is brutally honest, it is very positive (which always surprises people) and why the sub-title is the key.
That being said, I really liked this book. It was also very positive. It was not cynical. It was not critical. Although it brought out key issues in the modern church and the personal devotion (and character) of ‘Christians’, it did so in a way that was polite, respectful, and occasionally humorous. These factors are the key, and difference, between stepping over that cynical and critical line. As a writer, that is the tension to manage to prevent yourself from entering that unhealthy territory on your prose. If you do slide to the other side, your words seem like complaining, elitism, and contempt. But the Jesus Manifesto was none of these things. Specifically, I really started to like this book at about half-way point.
Overall, the Jesus Manifesto was a refreshing and simple look at the importance of Jesus (his teachings, life, and sacrifice) over all else. Sometimes our strategies and practices and become routine, which dulls our love and devotion. However, there were a couple of times that I got a little lost. Some areas seemed to try hard to sound spiritual and intellectual–which always tickles the reader–but actually said very little. For example the writers commented:
Both of us have developed the habit of counting the number of times the preachers we hear mention the Lord Jesus. Sadly, in many cases, contemporary preachers and teachers who spend an hour speaking on a subject, mention the Lord just once or twice… (p. 14)
This begs the question, isn’t making sure you mention the name of Jesus enough times just the kind of dull routine that doesn’t necessarily mean anything or help your devotion? That’s what happened when I was in the band Strongarm. I would often get criticism for not saying ‘Jesus Christ’ or ‘God’ enough times in the lyrics. Other than a few things like that (that I didn’t care for), I though this was a good book. It is devotional in style and fairly short. It would make or a good stocking-stuffer around Christmas (or something like that).
Some of my favorite lines in the book:
…if God were to write your biography, it would be a fifth gospel, so to speak. (p.43)
Jesus Christ has never been a social activist or a moral philosopher. To pitch Him that way is to drain his glory and dilute His excellence. (p. 105)
A careful reading of the Scriptures reveals that the kingdom [of God] is not something that we bring, or build, or cause, or create. The kingdom is a presence that we enter, a gem-like gift that we receive and treasure, a new creation that engulfs and embraces us. (p. 110)
Caesar sought to change the hearts of men by laws and institutions. Jesus changes the hearts of women and men and brings them into a new society, the church, the firstfruits of a new creation. (p. 111)
We’re not sure that Rousseau was right when he said that the more you think, the less you feel. But we are sure that the more you judge, the less you love. (p. 112)
Too many Christians want to change the world not because they love the world but because they hate the world. (p. 118)
We do not suggest as some do that the church’s “justice mantras” are little more than socialist nuggets honeyed with Christian sweetness. (p. 118)
Christianity is not fundamentally about following a book… It’s about following a person and living out of His life. The library of divinely inspired books we call the Holy Bible best helps us to follow that person, for they testify of him. (p. 137)
The Jesus Manifesto brought critical attention to Jesus in way that his followers can learn from.
Here is a review of my book I stumbled upon. Here it is:
Rolling over for the third time, I quieted my alarm and looked up at the ceiling, wishing I didn’t have to go to church. A thought quickly reprimanded by the fact that I was the pastor and had little choice in the matter. Scenarios like this do not make me, or any believer less Christian, only more aware of just how human we are. Being human, and therefore imperfect, is one of the realities Jason T. Berggren explores in his first book, 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith, which he calls an “intersection of real life, simple faith, and raw emotion.”
Hate is defined on the cover of Berggren’s book as a feeling of dislike so strong that it demands action. It is a word most people associate with negative thoughts, emotions, and actions. Something Berggren makes plain he is aware of by stating in the first paragraph that he knows “hate is wrong…maybe even a little reckless and rude,” butt hen goes on to tell readers that he used the word because it is what he meant.
After a brief summary of his life and why he decided to write the book, Berggren proceeds to unapologetically detail his pet peeves about Faith, Prayer, The Bible, Sin, Rules, Love, Hell, Answers to Difficult Questions, Church, and Christians. He is brutally honest about his feelings and experiences with each, much to the joy and dismay of Christians, atheists, agnostics and would-be readers.
In researching this book I came across one unhappy blogger who states, “…its title alone is offensive. I consider myself a moderate Democrat who fully supports journalistic freedom. But this kind of peace seeks only to disrespect Christian beliefs without any constructive purpose (whether it be academic, intellectual, or otherwise).” I couldn’t disagree more and believe such a statement could only be made by someone who has not read the book at all, but in the spirit of self-righteousness stopped short of getting past the cover long enough to find one believer’s very fruitful journal of hate, which Berggren states is not “the unguarded, irresponsible, and negative emotion” his father warned him about, “but the inner sense of overwhelming dissatisfaction that can launch a progression toward personal growth.”
Most Christians, if honest with themselves, can identify one point in their lives where they felt as if they didn’t know why they believed as they did, why they decided to live as they do, became angry because God didn’t answer a prayer the way they thought He should have, or felt that He wasn’t present at all. Even if they refuse to acknowledge ever dealing with those emotions, they can at least say they’ve read a passage of scripture that didn’t seem to make sense, felt a little slighted by the world’s seemingly total lack of consciousness of obligation toward morality, or the constant position of defense one takes when trying to prove something exists that no one can see, feel,or touch – not to mention, the sometimes irritating “everything’s going to be all right” position you have to take when everything is going so wrong.
Any mature Christian has come to many of the same conclusions that Berggren has. He states, “It took time, but I learned to come to terms with the realization that faith in Jesus didn’t mean all my problems would go away or be fixed,” a bill of goods many bible-totin’ saints and televangelists will sell in their quest to rescue people from damnation and hell-fire. The truth of the matter is God never promised that everything would be all right all the time. Neither can anyone find a single scripture that says life will be peaches and cream if you only believe in Jesus. On the contrary, it speaks of hardship and persecution following those who take up the cross of Christ, but like Berggren, our faith can bring us clarity and peace even if it doesn’t fix every problem. And most importantly, to those who believe, it is the light to our path, a guide to moral success, and a means of getting through the hardships of this life to eternal life, a privilege and gift Christ died to make available.
What’s more important than the 10 things Berggren hates is the one thing he loves, and that is Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith.In the midst of uncertainty and hardship, He is the one we can look to for peace, even when we lack understanding. And when we are having our “top of the world” experiences, He is the one to whom we direct our praise. No matter what side of fate we find ourselves in the moment of existence we call life, Christ is and will be at the center of it all,just as He was that morning when I felt I would rather just be holy at home. Once at service standing in the pulpit, I knew I was in the right place doing the right thing. Noticing that the congregation was looking a little weary, I jokingly stated that I understood and would have preferred to sleep in, and if I weren’t the pastor, I would’ve done just that. As expected, they erupted in laughter, amused and pleasantly surprised by my unrestrained honesty. It wasn’t necessarily my objective to entertain them, but to encourage them by letting them know that even I struggle with the responsibilities of faith. I was just “keeping it real”, a sentiment shared by Berggren, and hopefully appreciated by anyone who reads 10 Things I Hate About Christianity.
For more information about Jason T. Berggren and to purchase this book, please visit his website at www.10thingsihate.com
-by Desimber Rose (source here)
So let’s continue.
Context doesn’t matter. That one was a little jab. Of course, this is not a stated value of the book, but this is certainly the practical application as the arguments play out. The authors have little regard for context in regards to the areas of Scripture they do analyze. As a result, they are completely incapable (or unwilling) of determining if a particular area of Scripture is meant to be a special circumstance or a timeless principle. For me, this is a daily and mandatory discipline. But rather than try to determine the context, they liberally vacillate between the literal and metaphorical understandings—depending on which will more readily support their current point or eviscerate Christianity more.
In the same vein, they also make no distinction between the religion of Christianity and those actually desiring to be a follower of Jesus. For example, I did not join a ‘religion’ or belief system (and I did not grow up a Christian). I simply wanted to try to follow the teachings of Jesus and apply them to my life.
Religion kills, Christianity is the worst, and Atheism is all sunny days and yummy milkshakes. If someone in history has claimed to be Christian and done horrible things, like Timothy McVeigh (He is a favorite example of Atheists, although McVeigh was a self-proclaimed agnostic, but I’ll let it stand for the sake of argument.), it was because he was a religious nut and religion is to blame (it made him that way). However, if someone was an Atheist or agnostic and did terrible things, like Mao Zedong, his godless worldview is not responsible. It was just because he was crazy or bad. Christianity is held accountable while Atheism gets a pass.
Plus, Atheism is awesome because it has never had missionaries corrupting societies or hurt anyone. So in the “Age of Reason” France never banished pastors, converted churches to temples of reason, and punished people for claiming to “know the truth” I guess? This is a good place to introduce the 2nd major flaw of the book.
Flaw #2-“The Original Sin”. What is the Original Sin of this book? It takes shape as a HUGE oversight. It does not even delve into the very reason for religion. That is to say, it doesn’t offer one thought as to how this all started or where we all come from. More fundamentally, it does not even do a cursory mention or a courtesy bow to the idea of how you get something from nothing. If you’re going to write a whole reference-type book on debunking Christianity, you better offer something on this.
That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? That’s why I believe at all. Where did this all start? What about our origins? Saying “Darwin” or “Evolution” isn’t enough. Give me “Cosmic Goo” or “X” the “Big Bang.” It isn’t an explanation, but its something. What started this all? Did aliens seed all this as noted Atheist Richard Dawkins said could be possible? To not offer anything is a major flaw of a book seeking to destroy Christianity and promote Atheism. You better offer something, or at least say why you’re not offering anything. But let me say, in offering something you may only put forward what science can prove and test. Remember, the natural (or physical) world is all that we may believe in or that can guide us. That means nothing that can be construed as “extraordinary” or hint at something “supernatural” may be proposed. I suppose that may be why our origins is ignored in this book. It is difficult to explain.
How do you get something from nothing?
Christianity can’t be because it isn’t. Christianity can’t be true because it probably isn’t the only religion you (or I) tried. That’s a major contention. They hold that I must treat every religion with the same amount of validity. If I want to have any integrity I must flush out and try each one before I am allowed to decide.
The Outsider Test For Faith. What I gather to be one of the benchmarks of the book is described as the Outsider Test For Faith (OTF). This is somewhat related to the point above. It is something the editor and main contributor, John Loftus, builds his very Atheism on. Unfortunately, he never stated exactly what the Outsider Test For Faith is. I read the chapter several times to try and find it. He laid out questions that he uses to guide his skepticism based on the OTF, answered objections based on the OTF, but never defined clearly what the OTF was/is. In addition, I know he wants us (Christians) to subject the same amount of skepticism to Christianity as we do other religions. I suppose that is what it is. Still, I’m not sure. Nowhere did Loftus say “The OTF can essentially be summarized as…” and then build from there. Perhaps, I missed it. I guess I failed the test.
Marxism and Atheism. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that most Atheists are Marxists in regards to their socio-political philosophy (most are Socialists and a few admit to being Communists). And I extend this assessment beyond the confines of this book. I find this somewhat inconsistent and even humorous. It is a true lapse of the ‘unwavering’ logic they profess. They don’t have the integrity or decency to be anarchists at best (the only ‘survival of the fittest’ socio-political philosophy) or Libertarians at worst (the only amoral one). Atheists are so often averse and upset about the influence of religion on society and its ‘oppressive’ morality. Their perfect, reasoned, and logical solution? To revert to another form of moralism. They seek to employ all the authoritarianism of a theocracy, minus the God part.
*The book alleges that the Bible promotes a “flat earth” view of cosmology because it employs such terms as the “four corners of the earth”. This is to show how primitive framers of the Bible were and, subsequently, must have been wrong about God too. Somehow there is no understanding of the poetry and parallelism in Hebrew writings and banter. For example, Jesus once said to take the plank out your own eye before pointing out the piece of sawdust in someone else’s (in regard to being judgmental). This may come as a surprise, but Jesus did not in fact think we are all actually made of wood. It was a creative metaphor.
*The book contends that we are all moral relativists because we view someone else’s view of morality as relative to ours (often a clear distinction between belief and non-belief). But that’s not what I view as moral relativism. I am not a moral relativist because I believe in absolutes that are intrinsic and fixed. Perhaps we are operating from two different meanings of ‘relative/ist.’
*Christians must give opponents of Christianity more validity than promoters of it if they want to truly find the truth. Of course, no one ever does this. Do the environmentalists look to skeptics to learn how to protect the earth? Do pro-choice advocates glean wisdom from pro-lifers when weighing their decision? (And so on) This is simply hedging and an air of moral superiority, because we’re all guilty here—even Atheists.
*Science picks up where philosophy leaves off, is what they say in this book. In direct contrast, I say the exact opposite in my book. Philosophy offers a theory or explanation when science can’t.
*Atheists get mad that Atheism often gets called a religion by Christian apologists. While I understand Atheism is not a religion, in that it is not a belief system and is more accurately non-belief or non-religion, can we agree that sometimes this is an argument about semantics? Religion can be defined as a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe. Does Atheism not sometimes fit that description when having these debates? Perhaps Atheism can sometimes be viewed as a religion with a little “r” and not a big “R”, as it is not an organized and formal religion. But you get the idea, academically speaking, when we’re having these talks, don’t you?
*Atheists also dispute Christianity because there are so many variations of it (with the denominations, non-denominations, and cults, to a lesser degree). In essence, Christianity (and Christians) can’t agree with itself, so it must be false. So am I to understand that because there are varying viewpoints on a particular subject (the result of free will, mind you) then none can be correct or worth considering? That makes no sense. Bring that into a marriage or friendship and see where that gets you. Not to mention, this isn’t exactly a fair point to make at all. Atheists only have to agree on ONE THING: there is no God. In the inverse, Christians unanimously agree on this point (that there is a God). And they agree on the most important element of Christianity: Jesus. Beyond that, there can be no more comparing, since we have doctrine, principles, and lessons to learn from and interpret. If Atheists had the same to consider they would obviously find themselves in the same predicament.
Flaw #1-“The Epic Fail”. The very title “The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails” is an epic fail. That is to say, the very premise of the book fails. Why? Because Christianity is alive and well. In fact, it started with just 12 followers 2,000 years ago and has bad BILLIONS of followers since then. If we put this in an empirical and scientific context, as Atheists claim to guide their lives with, we see that the evidence proves that the title breaks down in a major way with very little analysis—because faith hasn’t failed.
In fact, the very first sentence of the first chapter confirms my point. It opens with, “One of the great mysteries is why, despite the best arguments against it, religion survives.” There it is: an inadvertent admission that the title does not stand up under the weight of its own scrutiny. And if that’s the case, then doesn’t the whole premise of the book fail? Perhaps a better subtitle would be something like “Why Faith Should Fail”. A title with a qualitative word in it helps to deliver on the promise. This is something I learned writing my own book. With all the contributors claims of intellect, experience in academia, and fancy letters after their names, how did they miss this epic fail?
Lastly, a word to Atheists:
I do not hate you. I am not trying to convert you. I do not want to control you. I do not want to create a theocracy. I understand your frustrations and doubts—I have them weekly. I believe in God. You do not. I believe there is a spiritual element to life. You do not. I believe Jesus was the Son of God. You do not. But make no mistake:
I believe because I know it to be personally true. Sometimes resolute and sometimes strong. And sometimes a little more dimly. But I know this:
I will always believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. To me, that’s just the best news ever.
I recently finished reading The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails (TCD) in order to review it on my site www.jasonberggren.com. It was recommended to me by one of the contributors, Edward Babinski, who is a reader of my blog (named above). I’ve had many pleasant back-and-forths with him and was excited at the prospect.
I suspect I was approached to read TCD because of the title of my book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith —that I am perhaps a borderline Atheist convert, or a “New Atheist” as they’re called. It’s a fair point, but it is not the case as many Atheists have discovered (and then gotten mad about). I suppose there is a frustration that I used such a shocking title, but used it for good (to build faith and bring attention to Jesus) and used it before they did/could. The irony is, much that is covered in TCD I discuss in my own book.
So what about The Christian Delusion?
Following are my overall impressions and thoughts. By the end of this, I will also reveal the three major flaws of the book, as I see them. Please keep in mind, when I refer to Atheists in this review, I am referring to the contributors of this book only unless otherwise noted.
I appreciate the content of the book. It was well written and presents many valid points. I think it’s important to constantly review the objections many raise concerning Christianity. They are questions worth asking and discussing. We, as Christians, should never resist these dialogues. We should be committed to healthy, productive, and respectful discussions regarding our faith. Unfortunately, the ‘respect’ part is difficult in this heated subject from both sides of this aisle.
Let’s get started.
Summarizing Atheism. Let’s begin at the foundation. From what I gather, Atheism hinges on two rejections (in regard to religion in general): 1) there is no spiritual element to life and 2) there is no such thing as the supernatural. That’s my bottom-line description. For this reason, the physical world can be the only guide. What can be tested and proven with scientific methods can be the only evidence for living. This is summed up quite well by Richard Carrier, PhD on page 296, “That’s why I don’t believe Jesus rose from the dead: it simply isn’t a plausible event, and is not supported by any sources I trust.”
Intellectual honesty. That was perhaps the favorite phrase in this book when critiquing Christianity. Much was made of our (Christians) intellectual dishonesty. In other words, Christians would cease to be Christians if they were intellectually honest about…(and so on). But anyone who is intellectually honest will realize that much of the counterpoints to faith in this book are not exactly intellectually honest themselves. But then again, I am no intellectual, to be honest.
For example, there is a railing of Christian apologists for not being authentic in their approach since they seek to prove their faith—that they shouldn’t enter into the endeavor with a defined bias. It’s a fair point. But nothing is said of many apologists becoming converts by doing precisely this. At face value the Atheists make the same mistake (regardless of what they may say). They also enter into their undertaking with a defined bias: they seek to disprove God and Christianity. Personally, I could care less. Just be honest about it rather than assuming some level of moral superiority, especially when you do the same.
Humorless, condescending, and cynical. That is the overall tone of the book. One of the last lines of the introduction is, “To honest believers who are seeking to test their own inherited religious faith, this book is for you.” Sounds so magnanimous and polite, right? As if we are all just sitting around a coffee table together after Thanksgiving Dinner just shuckin-n-jivin. Unfortunately, up to that point the introduction spends a great deal of time talking down to people of faith.
For example, if you are a Christian, have faith, or believe in God this book has no lack of descriptions or directions for you. Allow me to elaborate about you (and these are no exaggerations). You are mentally ill, an obstacle to society, unenlightened, uneducated, brainwashed, sexist, prejudice, primitive, stupid, gullible, superstitious, uncivilized, racist, ridiculous, inferior, embarrassingly incompetent, perversely dishonest, wildly deluded, a liar for Christ, a tragedy, programmed to distrust skeptics, in a cult, and scary. You will hopefully evolve out of your need to believe, must realize that Rome didn’t really persecute Christians all that much, should know there has never been much of an effort to destroy the canonical evidence of Scripture or supportive artifacts, must be open to Atheists ideas (but not vice versa), may not use the Bible when discussing faith with Atheists (although Atheists can use the bible in every argument against it they make and are allowed any other bit of supporting work, theory, innuendo, or otherwise to proselytize their non-God worldview), believe in a savior (Jesus) who was an ignorant xenophobe, should be a socialist, should follow Marxism at least (according to most) and Communism at best (according to a few), contribute to the violence in the world, need to appreciate that Atheists are patient enough to ‘deal’ with you, and need to realize that the Apostle Paul hallucinated himself into belief because of guilt. Oh yes, and you have also likely hallucinated and have low self-esteem (which explains your need to believe).
Now you may be wondering why I included so many direct descriptions. Believe it or not, this is just a small percentage of what the book included. I think it’s important to point out that the book attempts to cloak itself in a guise of respect, reason, and magnanimity (as I stated before). But as you can see, these words are quite antagonistic. This dialogue environment is not egalitarian and altruistic as it claims to want to create. These are words of anger and revenge. And if that’s the purpose, again, then just be honest about it.
“Insiders” of Christianity. That is the claim of nearly all the contributors—that they were former ones, that is. I am very suspicious of this because of the blatant disregard for context (which I will get into later). It just seems to me, if this is true, there is quite a but of willful ignorance as the arguments play out. Or perhaps they had very bad mentors when they were “insiders”.
The Bible has NO credibility. Any source seems to be more valid than the Bible to them. Even one with only one or two copies citing a particular event holds more weight (so long as it casts doubt on Christianity) than the thousands of manuscripts of the Scripture. If two books record the same event, the Bible is automatically wrong. Why? Well, because it’s the Bible, of course! Aren’t you paying attention? This is a good place to introduce the 1st major flaw of the book (in descending order) and end part 1 of this review (part 2 posts tomorrow).
Flaw #3-“The Idiot Genius Contradiction”. In my observation, this is a major pillar of the Atheists (again, I refer to the contributors of this book) contention to Christianity. And in order to accept it, you must accept two contradictory theories at the same time and believe them both simultaneously. Although they should largely negate each other (if we are ‘intellectually honest’), somehow they survive each other, together.
The contradiction is this: Christianity (and Judaism to a lesser degree) is built on the brilliantly maniacal manipulative writings of an elite group of people (i.e., the Bible). This group has been able to translate, re-translate, craft, and re-craft the Bible in a way that has enabled them to control the masses, proliferate their religion throughout the centuries, and maintain their own positions of power. With it and through it they prey on fears, promise rewards, and punish disobedience.
And at the same time…
Somehow this elite group was not smart enough to make God perfect, his followers flawless, and his will universal and clear as the Caribbean waters in those same writings. Obviously, this would require no apologies and phony justifications while helping this elite ensure more power, influence, and amass more money. Instead, in the Bible, they make much of alleging God (and often his followers) is an ethical tyrant, moral monster, racial hatemonger, oppressive master, violent father, indifferent to suffering, and permissive of evil. But somehow we were all tricked into following this God while reading all this. In short, this elite crowd was not smart enough to frame a God that didn’t seem bi-polar and is at least good, yet somehow invented the most successful religion (Christianity) ever. It’s very similar to the 9/11 conspiracy theories: somehow President Bush was an evil genius that destroyed the Word Trade Center to line his (and his cohorts) pockets by starting a war for oil without leaving a hint of evidence but was the biggest bumbling idiot at the same time.
So the Bible is brilliant and stupid all at once. Somehow both are true. That’s the Idiot Genius Contradiction.
Here is a new of my book. What’s interesting is that it is by someone who is not a Christian:
“The book title sounds a little scary, but after reading it I discovered that Jason, the author, and I are almost cut from the same cloth. Quite frankly I enjoyed it. Very much. It was kind of like Jason read my mind and put some of my thoughts on paper. I liked his writing style, pretty good for a first attempt at writing his own book. I found it humorous and genuine. It was refreshing to hear some of his struggles are common with mine and my peers. I am not a Christian. Doubt I ever will be. But there are a lot of “Christian” values that happen to be shared by the rest of the world that I do hold dear. Not sure I should refer to them as “Christian” values since they don’t own them, although many act like they do. It does an excellent job expressing the frustration that comes with belonging to a group with many misguided members. Anyway, thought I would pass along a compliment because I think the book deserves one.”
-reviewed by John from the Northeast
I just received a new review of my book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith. It appears over at blogcritics.com .
Here it is:
One of the most important things to recognize about author Jason T. Berggren is that he is not a Christianity-hater. There are ten things that this believer dislikes, and maybe it would be more apt to say “ten things he’d like improved.”
In Ten Things I Hate about Christianity – Working through the Frustrations of Faith, Berggren discusses issues he has and shares with many other Christians. Although one of his issues is “Rules,” he doesn’t claim that Christianity should be anarchic. Instead he proposes a kindler, gentler version of the Ten Commandments. Instead of ten don’ts, he offers a guideline comprised of ten things people should do. Some may see this as splitting hairs, but Christians know that Christ had only two commandments — to love God above all other things, and to love everyone (yes, everyone, as in “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”).
Berggren does not take a narrow approach to his ten topics, which include faith, prayer, the Bible, sin, rules, love, hell, answers, church, and Christians. What makes Ten Things I Hate about Christianity readable (rather than pedantic) is that he frames each of his chapters (one for each issue) in twenty-first century terms. This means that he is not preaching to true believers (if “true belief” = “blind faith”); he’s questioning along with believers who need answers. And as he explores the questions, he compares our relationship with God to our relationship with others.
By rephrasing doubts and complaints about Christian practices and beliefs, he invites readers to examine those things in relation to their lives. Ten Things I Hate about Christianity is a good book for Christian study and discussion groups. Undoubtedly, some of the discussions may be heated, but sometimes the best way to understand our own views is by comparing them to others’. We often learn that not only is there more than one valid way to look at things, but that our
viewpoint is not the best.
The discussion guide that Berggren has prepared to accompany Ten Things I Hate about Christianity is written with group leaders in mind. Beginning with advice on how to conduct a study of the book, the discussion guide provides leaders and teachers with information on the structure of group meetings, facilitation, and keeping the peace. Following the introductory material, there are again ten chapters on the ten Christianity issues, each comprised of Leader Notes on the topic, and ten questions for discussion. It’s likely that more creative or experienced group leaders will add their own questions and activities to those supplied, but the discussion guide is a fully inclusive course of study if used as written, one that satisfactorily provides enough material to enable most group leaders to conduct a seminar on Ten Things I Hate about Christianity.
“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports…”
-President George Washington in his farewell address, as quoted in The 5000 Year Leap.
I recently finished reading The 5000 Year Leap by W. Cleon Skousen. This was one of those books that has been on my list to read for a while. Person after person recommended it to me over the last couple of years. One even said, “It’s one of my top 20 most important books to read.” That’s when it got put in my queue.
The 5000 Year Leap sets out to essentially give the background of the 28 formative principles (taken from philosophers, historical events, and religion, etc. which were observed to have worked and elevate humanity, to some degree) that were the basis of the Constitution of The United States of America (and thereby, our nation)–along with background on the framers and signers of it.
This established a nation based on the rule of law to guide all matters of legislation and social order, and not birthright or might. This created a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people, and not some dictatorial oppressive ruler.
And that changed everything.
The result of that was within 200 short years the world advanced more than it had in the previous 5000. That is, the original settlers in Jamestown essentially pioneered the land like all other pioneers in other lands had for the previous 5000 years. Civilization had made little progress to that point, still using the axe, shovel, hoe, plow, and beasts of burden. But with the establishment of this new nation via the Constitution, American independence, free-enterprise economics, and personal liberty produced the most phenomenal results in history.
By 1976 (200 years later), there was a mighty leap in technical, political, and economic achievement. These included electricity, the proliferation and perfection of the internal combustion engine, jet propulsion, spacecrafts and vehicles, nuclear energy, and much more (radio, telephone, light bulb, computer…). And this spirit of freedom spread around the globe and inspired it as well.
Some things of note from the history in this book:
*America is not a Democracy. It is a Constitutional Republic.
*America has the oldest written Constitution still in use.
*Nearly all (if not all) the Framers (in their own words) believed in a Creator who authored certain obvious absolutes (what they called Natural Law). The Constitution sought to acknowledge these and protect them, with regard to the rights of the people.
*Without constant vigilance, citizens would slowly give away their rights for the illusion of safety and comfort until they finally found themselves under the thumb of tyranny. Some of the Framers even thought that Republic would need to be ‘reset’ to some degree every 20 or so years.
*The Constitution was meant to guarantee equal opportunity–not equal outcomes.
*To maintain sovereignty, America was to avoid international entanglements–called separatism. The idea was, “A friend to all, but servant to none,” in the obligatory sense.
*Historically (and factually), the core unit that determines the strength of any society is the family.
*In just 40 years after the signing of the Constitution (establishing of America), the citizenry of the nation were the most informed and literate of all nations. These were the observations of dignitaries from other nations who traveled through the cities and frontiers.
*The Separation of Powers (the three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative) was supposed to make the process of leading and lawmaking slow and clumsy, as to inherently protect the rights of the citizens.
This is an informational book. It is not something that you want to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It is definitely a learning experience. I made comments on nearly every page.
I highly recommend this book. It has certainly filled in many of the gaps that my public school education left empty, or seemed to fill with some misinformation. In fact, this is a book I will read with my kids one day (when they are older). My biggest complaint about this book is that it started to fall apart about 1/3 of the way through. That was annoying. It didn’t seem to be bound very well. But it didn’t deter me.
So jump to it and read The 5000 Year Leap!
10 Things addresses a short list of potentially turn-off issues that seekers or fringers might inwardly battle while exploring the seemingly irrational or unreasonable beliefs of Christianity, such as Bible accuracy and authority, sin, rules, church, and certain behaviors by Christians. The great thing about this book is that the questions Jason approaches are honest questions—questions that Jason wrestled through in his own search of authentic faith. He does an excellent job of blending in his own experiences and honest struggles, while showing the reader his process of working through each “hate.” Jason cleverly helps the reader reconstructs his or her beliefs about God’s character and the Bible, arriving at a reasonable answer and understanding on each point.
One thing I really liked is that Jason did not over-simplify issues in an unbelievable or trite manner, but he addressed many of the issues with candor, expressing honest doubts,personal struggles with sin, and mental battles he faced in over coming his own hates. About one of his sin battles, Jason shares:
“I hesitate to share that detail of my life. It would be easier to write about other people. You know, “my friend” or “someone I once knew.” But that would be insincere. It’s a disgusting part of my life. I think it clearly tells the story of the ugliness that’s waiting for an opportunity to surface in all of us at any time. …And that’s why I tell it.”
In one section, I applaud Jason’s humility in addressing those people reading the book who may have been hurt by the behaviors of certain Christians. Considering the target audience of this book, it is more than appropriate and thoughtful. Here is an excerpt from page 208:
“Whether you are or aren’t a Christian, I apologize on behalf of myself and all other Christians… I’m sorry we may have given you the wrong impression of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. I’m sorry we may have given you a wrong expectation of what it means to pursue this faith. …There’s no excuse for bad behavior. Period.
“At times we’ve lied…been insensitive, taken advantage of situations, and pretended to be holier-than-thou. We’ve been standoffish, not repaid loans, not paid for things we broke, harped on your mistakes while cheating on our own taxes, pretended to care, called you names behind your back, and been argumentative. We’ve thought we’re always right,cut you off in traffic with our Christian stickers on the backs of our cars, been cheap…and talked to you in everyday conversations by using language you couldn’t understand. For all that, and much more, please accept my sincerest apologies. We’ve alienated you, judged you, been condescending to you, been unreliable, sold you short, not helped, and not been there to encourage you when you needed it…”
Toward the end of the book, Jason offers a challenge to well-groomed, perhaps indoctrinated (insensitive?) Christians. The main purpose of his challenge is to get Christians aspiring to be recognized for their behavior, not their title:
“Here’s my challenge to Christians: Consider no longer calling yourself a‘Christian.’ Take a few seconds to think about what it would mean if you had to stop using that term to describe yourself. What would you have to do? Most likely, you’d be forced to do something drastic. Above all else, you’d have to consider your attitude and actions in everything. Like never before, you’d have to take into account how you represent the truth hidden in your heart…”
In my opinion, 10 Things is a great stepping-stone for those who are trying to find their way over personal stumbling blocks on their way to belief.
I was recently contacted and asked to review One Millions Arrows tells Papa’s story. It also tells the story of other people, particularly parents, and what they do to accomplish similar positive goals (both practical and spiritual) in the heart’s and lives of their own children. The author sets out to communicate a high value on how we treat and raise our children, all they while laying out the potentially bright future if we do.
Arrows is a positive and encouraging book that you will find illustrated by story after story of why we should sacrificially love our children: never forgetting that God loves them, that he created them for a reason and with special purpose, and that they have value best communicated in the life, teachings, and example of Jesus Christ.
I didn’t prepare an acceptance speech for this great honor. But let me just say:
“I’d like to thank God for still putting up with me, my wife for supporting most of my crazy ideas, my children for still think I’m cool, and Should Be Reading for giving me this most prestigious award.
And I would also like to mention that I have assembled a Discussion Guide (which is totally FREE!) for 10 Things I Hate About Christianity. Thank you to everyone!”
“You get an immediate understanding that God is the bad-guy in this
film, so if you have no flexibility in your faith, you might want to
check out 10Things I Hate About Christianity, it helps put things in perspective.” (Read the rest here)
Here is another review of my book that appeared on IHEYO.com. It is a site for young humanists:
author, Jason Berggren, is neither an atheist nor agnostic; rather,
he’s a pretty middle-of-the-road Christian fellow who has written a
somewhat humorous, quite introspective and not the least bit ranting
dissertation on the things which bug him about Christianity. This is
not a tirade against Christianity from the point of view of a person in
another religion, but more like the private observations of the
frailties of the religion and its flock from the perspective of an
Once I grabbed the overall concept of
the book as such, it was a pleasant surprise to see such candor from
someone of the born-again Christian faith in print. For the author’s
first book, he’s done a fine job and I recommend it. When I got to
chapter 10 the book reached its crescendo. The most fallible thing
about any institution is of course its people, and sometimes the
behavior of our peers can be downright embarrassing. It was refreshing
to hear from an insider how difficult things can be for a moderate
Christian and to be reminded that there are good and great people
struggling with the challenges of all their respective faiths.
Here are the 10 Things:
no evidence for what we believe. That’s why it’s called faith. God
doesn’t appear at the mall with Jesus to buy you sneakers.”
2. Prayer “You do it, and it feels like it doesn’t accomplish what you
want it to accomplish. You wonder: What’s really changed? Sometimes God
takes time and asks us to accept no.”
3. The Bible “So often you read something and wonder, is that
trustworthy? Is it helpful? Does everything always have to be so boring
4. Sin “Am I really so evil or so bad that I have to think of myself as
sinful? Of course, we’re all only two or three decisions from ruining
our life completely.”
5. Rules “Why are there so many rules, and do I have to keep them all? There is too much to keep track of.”
6. Love “It feels too hard to love everyone all the time.”
7. Hell “Why would a loving God create hell?”
8. Answers “I don’t always like the answers that Christianity gives. Do I have to accept them?”
9. Church “Everyone says go to church. But how does that make me a better person?”
10. Christians “Why are Christians so crazy, annoying and judgmental?”