Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?: A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right, and Solves Her Lady Problems

( 12 )

Overview

What does it mean to give church a try when you haven't really tried since you were twelve? At the end of her bestselling memoir Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Rhoda Janzen had reconnected with her family and her roots, though her future felt uncertain. But when she starts dating a churchgoer, this skeptic begins a surprising journey to faith and love.

Rhoda doesn't slide back into the dignified simplicity of the Mennonite church. Instead she finds herself hanging with the ...

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MENNONITE MEETS MR. RIGHT: A Memoir of Faith, Hope, and Love

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Overview

What does it mean to give church a try when you haven't really tried since you were twelve? At the end of her bestselling memoir Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Rhoda Janzen had reconnected with her family and her roots, though her future felt uncertain. But when she starts dating a churchgoer, this skeptic begins a surprising journey to faith and love.

Rhoda doesn't slide back into the dignified simplicity of the Mennonite church. Instead she finds herself hanging with the Pentecostals, who really know how to get down with sparkler pom-poms. Amid the hand waving and hallelujahs Rhoda finds a faith richly practical for life--just in time for some impressive lady problems, an unexpected romance, and a quirky new family.

Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? is for people who have a problem with organized religion, but can't quite dismiss the notion of God, and for those who secretly sing hymns in their cars, but prefer a nice mimosa brunch to church. This is the story of what it means to find joy in love, comfort in prayer, and--incredibly, surprisingly--faith in a big-hearted God.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

If you have ever wondered what happened to Rhoda Janzen, the bestselling author of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, this eventful memoir brings you up to date. Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? describes the "weirdness" of her mercifully brief battle with breast cancer, but devotes most of its pages to her new relationships with a huge, intense rocker; the Pentecostal church; and her new stepchild. Elizabeth Gilbert called Janzen's debut as "singular, deadpan, sharp-witted and honest," not a bad description either for this follow-up.

Publishers Weekly
Author of the improbable bestseller Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Janzen continues her quirky tales of finding faith in unlikely places in this dotty, squeaky-clean postdivorce sequel in which she describes life with a new boyfriend and the courage to battle breast cancer. Having fallen out of her conservative Mennonite community in California—“abgefallen” is how she is referred by her church folk—now an English professor in Holland, Mich., Janzen meets and falls for a Pentecostal born-again “Jesus-nail-necklace-wearing manly man” shortly before she is diagnosed with massive, inoperable breast cancer. With Mitch standing firmly by her, along with her resilient mom and sister, Janzen was determined to face her condition with optimism, and in startlingly breezy prose, considering the gravity of her condition, pokes fun at her professorial distractedness in contrast to Mitch’s literal groundedness. She plunges into activities at his Pentecostal church, as wildly improvisational and “kooky” as her Mennonite church had been sober and dignified, with enthusiasm, embracing their particular rituals of healing and even tithing. However, underneath her limpid facetiousness (one inspired simile compares Mitch’s gloomy aged father’s boredom to “a stretch of wet cement that he protected with cones and tape”) run serious concerns about her faith, spiritual growth, and the meaning of prayer and humility. “I had unfinished business with God,” Janzen writes, sharing in this vibrant, charming narrative her own “fruits of the spirit.” (Oct.)
Great Day Houston
"A very funny writer. . . . A heartfelt memoir that is both hilarious and inspiring."
People Magazine
Hilarious and touching.
Entertainment Weekly
"A hilarious collection of musings on Janzen's childhood, marriage, and eccentric family... Janzen mines Mennonite culture for comic effect, but she does so with love."
People
Hilarious and touching.
Barbara Brown Taylor
"Rhoda Janzen is one of the few people I trust to write about faith without using God to clobber me. She writes about the most serious things in the world-life, death, family, love-with such spot-on honesty, spiritual humility, and disarming humor that I would follow her anywhere. The nicest thing I can say about her new book is that it made me want to be a better person. It is that good."
Kate Braestrup
"Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? made me laugh out loud, often enough to make my beloved children inquire as to whether I was losing my mind. Too much spiritual writing these days claims that religious practice is about healing or developing the self. But Rhoda Janzen avoids this theme: here she sets out on a path to become more loving, grateful, and helpful to others. This is particularly impressive given that she's writing about a period in her life when she's got a scary, life-threatening illness, and a brand-new family. Bravo, Rhoda-or rather, 'Thank God!'"
Hannah Sampson
"A delight for fans of [Janzen's] warm, wisecracking style.... Her enthusiasm and spirit and knack for finding humor in the God details make this book a crowd-pleaser."
Kate Christensen
"I loved this book, and Rhoda Janzen. She is a terrific, pithy, beautiful writer, a reliable, sympathetic narrator and a fantastically good sport."
Elizabeth Gilbert
Praise for Mennonite in a Little Black Dress:

"It is rare that I literally laugh out loud while reading, but Rhoda Janzen's voice--singular, deadpan, sharp-witted and honest--slayed me."

AJ Jacobs
"Paul Shaffer, the noted theologian/TV sidekick, once said that if God is the ultimate being, he must have the ultimate sense of humor. To which I add, Rhoda Janzen is not far behind. This is one funny book. Not to mention thought-provoking and touching."
Colette Bancroft
"Amazingly light-hearted... [Janzen] is not so much proselytizing for her particular religion as she is pointing toward the value of examining one's own beliefs, whatever they might be, and finding a way to live with them in joy."
People (Three Stars)
Praise for Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?:

"Breezy despite the weighty subject matter... Janzen's wit and love of fashion keep things light, but her conversion to Pentecostalism after a miraculous return to health sends the book into serious seekers' territory."

Susanne Jaffe
"Smart and witty.... Janzen has a remarkable ability to demystify religion through humor and humanity."
Shirley Hershey Showalter
"Given the gravity of the subjects-cancer and religious conversion-Janzen gave herself an enormous challenge. Could she maintain her hallmark comic voice in the midst of suffering and transformation? The answer is yes, and that is no small accomplishment... The excitement of discovery is palpable in this book."
Charity Vogel
"Janzen is the kind of writer-world-weary yet incredulous; girlfriend-esque and conversational-that draws you along through a story with ease...[Does This Church Make Me Look Fat] would fit naturally on a shelf, say, next to your collection of beat-up Anne Lamott paperbacks. It has that same sort of accessibility to it; that same sort of acceptance."
People (four stars)
"Hilarious and touching."
Booklist
"A hilarious account of the small details that make a life. . . Readers from all backgrounds will be inspired by Janzen's tale of love and faith told with her trademark wit and honesty."
From the Publisher
Praise for Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?:

"Breezy despite the weighty subject matter... Janzen's wit and love of fashion keep things light, but her conversion to Pentecostalism after a miraculous return to health sends the book into serious seekers' territory."—People (Three Stars)

"A hilarious account of the small details that make a life. . . Readers from all backgrounds will be inspired by Janzen's tale of love and faith told with her trademark wit and honesty."—Booklist

"Janzen is the kind of writer-world-weary yet incredulous; girlfriend-esque and conversational-that draws you along through a story with ease...[Does This Church Make Me Look Fat] would fit naturally on a shelf, say, next to your collection of beat-up Anne Lamott paperbacks. It has that same sort of accessibility to it; that same sort of acceptance."—Charity Vogel, The Buffalo News

"Given the gravity of the subjects-cancer and religious conversion-Janzen gave herself an enormous challenge. Could she maintain her hallmark comic voice in the midst of suffering and transformation? The answer is yes, and that is no small accomplishment... The excitement of discovery is palpable in this book."

Shirley Hershey Showalter, Christian Century

"Smart and witty.... Janzen has a remarkable ability to demystify religion through humor and humanity."—Susanne Jaffe, The Columbus Dispatch

"Amazingly light-hearted... [Janzen] is not so much proselytizing for her particular religion as she is pointing toward the value of examining one's own beliefs, whatever they might be, and finding a way to live with them in joy."—Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times

"A delight for fans of [Janzen's] warm, wisecracking style.... Her enthusiasm and spirit and knack for finding humor in the God details make this book a crowd-pleaser."—Hannah Sampson, The Miami Herald

"A very funny writer. . . . A heartfelt memoir that is both hilarious and inspiring."—Great Day Houston

"[A] vibrant, charming narrative."—Publishers Weekly

"Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? made me laugh out loud, often enough to make my beloved children inquire as to whether I was losing my mind. Too much spiritual writing these days claims that religious practice is about healing or developing the self. But Rhoda Janzen avoids this theme: here she sets out on a path to become more loving, grateful, and helpful to others. This is particularly impressive given that she's writing about a period in her life when she's got a scary, life-threatening illness, and a brand-new family. Bravo, Rhoda-or rather, 'Thank God!'"—Kate Braestrup, author of Here if You Need Me and Beginner's Grace"Rhoda Janzen is one of the few people I trust to write about faith without using God to clobber me. She writes about the most serious things in the world-life, death, family, love-with such spot-on honesty, spiritual humility, and disarming humor that I would follow her anywhere. The nicest thing I can say about her new book is that it made me want to be a better person. It is that good."—Barbara Brown Taylor, author of An Altar in the World and Leaving Church

"A very funny writer. . . . A heartfelt memoir that is both hilarious and inspiring."—Great Day Houston

"Paul Shaffer, the noted theologian/TV sidekick, once said that if God is the ultimate being, he must have the ultimate sense of humor. To which I add, Rhoda Janzen is not far behind. This is one funny book. Not to mention thought-provoking and touching."—AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically

Praise for Mennonite in a Little Black Dress:

"It is rare that I literally laugh out loud while reading, but Rhoda Janzen's voice--singular, deadpan, sharp-witted and honest--slayed me."—Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

"I loved this book, and Rhoda Janzen. She is a terrific, pithy, beautiful writer, a reliable, sympathetic narrator and a fantastically good sport."—Kate Christensen, The New York Times Book Review

"Hilarious and touching."—People (four stars)

"A hilarious collection of musings on Janzen's childhood, marriage, and eccentric family... Janzen mines Mennonite culture for comic effect, but she does so with love."
Entertainment Weekly

Entertainment Weekly
"A hilarious collection of musings on Janzen's childhood, marriage, and eccentric family... Janzen mines Mennonite culture for comic effect, but she does so with love."
Elizabeth Gilbert
Praise for Mennonite in a Little Black Dress:

"It is rare that I literally laugh out loud while reading, but Rhoda Janzen's voice—singular, deadpan, sharp-witted and honest—slayed me."

Charity Vogel
"Janzen is the kind of writer-world-weary yet incredulous; girlfriend-esque and conversational-that draws you along through a story with ease...[Does This Church Make Me Look Fat] would fit naturally on a shelf, say, next to your collection of beat-up Anne Lamott paperbacks. It has that same sort of accessibility to it; that same sort of acceptance."
People (Three Stars)
Praise for Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?:

"Breezy despite the weighty subject matter... Janzen's wit and love of fashion keep things light, but her conversion to Pentecostalism after a miraculous return to health sends the book into serious seekers' territory."

Shirley Hershey Showalter
"Given the gravity of the subjects-cancer and religious conversion-Janzen gave herself an enormous challenge. Could she maintain her hallmark comic voice in the midst of suffering and transformation? The answer is yes, and that is no small accomplishment... The excitement of discovery is palpable in this book."
Library Journal
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Janzen's pointedly funny memoir of returning home at low ebb to her cheerily faithful family, dwelled on the New York Times best sellers list for more than 40 weeks, sometimes in the top spot. Her new memoir charts her growing comfort with faith, though she goes for the hallelujah-swaying Pentecostals, and eventually meets the right guy. If this is anything like her last memoir, hang on; with a multicity tour and reading group guide.
Kirkus Reviews
Continuing her search for spiritual relevance in everyday life, Janzen (Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, 2009) recounts the travails and joys encountered while finding love, embracing her new beau's religion, and surviving breast cancer. Newly single, the author stepped into the dating world and ended up with an unlikely Mr. Wonderful. A huge, goateed rocker with a permit to carry a concealed weapon, he was a reformed alcoholic with a light Southern accent who uttered pronouncements like, "Well, I'll be double-dipped!" Janzen was mesmerized, she repeatedly informs the reader, by his giant pectorals and his Pentecostal church. "He loved the pastor, the people, the worship," she writes. "He loved the teaching, the service programs, the bake sales. It was clear to me that this church was an expression of his core values. If I was to keep dating him, I would need to see what it was all about." The author also covers a lot of other territory in her memoir--life as an English teacher; her breast cancer; the vast differences between Pentecostals and Mennonites, the religion she grew up with; her family relationships; her hot new romance; and her new relationship with God--and her peppy enthusiasm almost bounds off the page. Some readers, however, may grow tired of the author's continuously emphatic tone or her constant attempts to appear slightly naughty by divulging topics good girls would not discuss. Also, she makes entirely too much use of the exclamation point--e.g., "If Lazarus was peacefully rotting there in the tomb and if at the sound of Jesus's voice, he up and trotted out--well, miraculous! He left death and disease behind, yay! Stank hath no hold on him!" A welcome second installment for readers who enjoyed Janzen's first memoir. Others may want to turn elsewhere.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781455502882
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/2/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 471,815
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Rhoda Janzen
Rhoda Janzen is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Mennonite in a Little Black Dress and the poetry collection Babel's Stair. She holds a Ph.D. from UCLA and teaches English and creative writing at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.
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Table of Contents

1 Stella's House 1

2 Lady Problems 15

3 Lip Balm in Gilead 33

4 Hot Rock 49

5 Follow the Wild Goose Flight 73

6 The Ghost in the Tub 97

7 8 Percent Perceptive 115

8 The Gottman Island Survival Experience 131

9 Up from the Deep 163

10 The Poovey Voice 181

11 Whippersnapper 209

12 Double Dip 231

Acknowledgments 255

About the Author 259

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2012

    TITLE IS DECEIVING

    I have decided the best part of the Rhoda Janzen books are her titles. They sound funny but the books themselves are a let down. The first one was fairly entertaining but the second was just plain boring. She rattles on and on and on. I wished I had not wasted my gift card on it. Do not buy even if you liked the first one.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2012

    I found Janzen's journey fascinating and laugh out loud funny.

    I found Janzen's journey fascinating and laugh out loud funny. Most of the time I couldn't even re-read parts of it to my friend with a straight voice. Very sharp. The part that slowed me down was when she started trying to get jiggy with the bible towards the end, which to me smacks of the new but same old same old preaching. But knowing that our inspiration can come from anywhere, I tried to crack open my mind and do what she did - find out "what I could take away from it". It was quite a bit and I learned some valuable mind tools to use even in my non-religious life. I'd love to take a writing class from her, but will settle for the next book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2012

    Very likely the best memoir I've read. Ms Janzen shares her jour

    Very likely the best memoir I've read. Ms Janzen shares her journeys through cancer, of recovering from an abusive first marriage and entering into a wonderful second marriage, and of her spiritual journey from devout childhood through adult skepticism to the development of an adult faith. Laugh-out-loud funny throughout! Very enjoyable.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2013

    No, Sweetie, it doesn't make you look fat!

    I read and enjoyed Janzen's book, as well as her first book--Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. While detailing some rather personal and frightening health issues, she incorporates humor and a brave front in her fight against cancer. In the process, she rediscovers her religious side and embarks on the next chapter of her life with a husband who truly has her back and appreciates her. I found the book to be uplifting and on the autobiographical side, yet relavent to middle-aged women who face divorce and health issues as they move toward the next chapter of their lives. In other words, you're not alone! P.S. You don't need to read the first book in order to follow this one; however, if you find her sense of humor charming then "Mennonite in a Little Black Dress" is recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Another great memoir from Rhoda Janzen!

    If you enjoyed Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, you will enjoy Does This Church Make Me Look Fat. The author's sense of humor remains intact despite the fact that she is battling a life threatening disease.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 27, 2013

    Better than the first one!

    Once again I really enjoyed Ms. Jaanzen's book. I actually liked this one better than "Mennonite in a Little Black Dress". In the first book I felt that she looked back on her upbringing in the church and faith in God as one of those quaint things that is part of growing up. In this book, she truly finds a faith of her own. She "gets it". She still has the breezy style that sometimes feels like a poor fit for her subject matter. But humor colors all aspects of life for her, and I would much rather it be that way then the gloom and doom kind of writing. Definitely worth reading.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 27, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite In "Does Thi

    Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite

    In "Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?: A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right and Solves Her Lady Problems" by Rhonda Janzen, Rhonda Janzen was raised a Mennonite but by twelve she had turned away from her faith. When she began dating a Pentecostal she started going to church with him. The worship services were very different from what she had formerly experienced. During a healing service an Elder asked if anyone there was having “lady problems.” She resisted the urge to step forward for prayer; however, at a later date she did agree to be anointed. Moving in with her new father in law, Albert, was challenging. He had a tendency to be very negative and resisted finding anything to be happy about. Mitch is a delightful partner for Rhonda.

    I love Rhonda Janzen’s writing style; she had me laughing out loud as she shared her life with me. She was raised in the Mennonite faith but in this book, the second in the series, she begins to explore the Pentecostal faith. It was refreshing to listen to her talk about the new man in her life. He is obviously very much in love with her and he is definitely Mr. Right. The reader also witnesses her reaction to the diagnosis of breast cancer. “Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?" has many tidbits of advice easily ferreted out. This book has strong Christian overtones and yet it is never preachy. This tale will stay with you long after you’ve listened to the last word.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2013

    Lahela

    What is this book even about?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2013

    Having emerged from the same Mennonite community in Fresno, I f


    Having emerged from the same Mennonite community in Fresno, I found Rhoda Janzen's first narrative a pithy analysis of her
    efforts to make sense of a life of the mind in juxtaposition to her unique spiritual background.  Rhoda's second narrative comes across
    as a disingenuous romance novel in which she trivializes the questions posed in her first book.  In spite of a much-needed apology to 
    her family and their Mennonite community in chapter 8, this book seems trite and hollow.  Don't waste your money.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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