Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book Review

O Me of Little Faith: True Confessions of a Spiritual Weakling
Jason Boyett

We all doubt.

Doubting God’s existence, sovereignty, and loving omniscience can be a pitfall to some degree or another for everyone who attempts to walk with Christ. Jason Boyett explores and explicates his journey of doubting, only punctuated with moments of fervent belief, in O Me of Little Faith. The latest book from the talented blogger and former advertising copywriter, is insightful, well-researched and at times quite funny. Boyett has clearly done his scriptural, cultural and academic homework, and manages to blend humor into unexpected places—even the footnotes. Detailed narratives of the moments when he clearly experienced the presence of God are lovely, including a particularly enchanting moment in a garbage dump in Nicaragua.

Boyett spends considerable time, as you could expect from the title, reflecting on his doubt in the context of a “less liturgical, more conservative, evangelical, megachurch sub-subculture.” He warns in the first chapter that this may not be a book for those with rock-solid faith. Sections of his meditation teeter, uncomfortably for this reader, on the verge on cynicism. Said to be written for a doubting audience, O Me of Little Faith may not even be for everyone in the doubting boat. Toward the end of the book Boyett states his fear that his work may steer others down the doubting road, but that is not his intent.

As creative nonfiction goes, the author makes a place for the reader in his world. Boyett’s world seems to be a churning and swirling vortex of reading, thinking, analyzing, observing, sharing anecdotes, and cracking jokes. If that strikes your fancy, hold on, absorb the citations and enjoy the laughs. For me, it was slightly dizzying, but equally entertaining.

In the second to last chapter, Faith with a Kung Fu Grip, Boyett cites Matthew 17 for the second time and highlights the fact that even some of the disciples doubted when they saw the resurrected Christ. What follows is some of the strongest writing in the book:

Notice how Jesus responded to their doubt. He didn’t scold them. He didn’t whip out a scroll of Daniel to walk them through Old Testament stuff about resurrection. He didn’t sigh dramatically and perform yet another miracle to display his spiritual clout. He didn’t remind them of his messianic credentials. He didn’t drop what he was doing to pray for them. He didn’t wave his tunic at them, Benny Hinn-style, to magically infuse them with the power of belief or deliver them from demonic influence. He didn’t bust out a PowerPoint presentation on the historical reliability of his death and resurrection, using tiny little crosses in place of bullet points.

Instead of any of Boyett’s hilarious hypothetical suggestions, Jesus gave the disciples the Great Commission. The balance of questioning, reason, humor, and appreciation for scripture Boyett displays in this section is brilliant and left me longing for consistency with this voice throughout O Me of Little Faith. Rather, Boyett’s style, perhaps a symptom of advertising and blog writing, is a little choppy and inconsistent.

Incidentally, Jason Boyett’s blog is really good.

I recommend O Me of Little Faith to the critical reader, to those willing to turn a discerning eye on their own doubts and to those hoping to better understand their doubting friends.

*Review copy provided by publisher.

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