Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?: A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right, and Solves Her Lady Problemsby Rhoda Janzen
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.
"It is rare that I literally laugh out loud while reading, but Rhoda Janzen's voice--singular, deadpan, sharp-witted and honest--slayed me."
"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."
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 voicesingular, deadpan, sharp-witted and honestslayed 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."
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.
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Meet the Author
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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
What is this book even about?
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.