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Devastated by his young daughters' tragic death, Jacob is determined to find God to ask Him why He allowed her tragedy to happen. No longer sure where to find God, or if He exists, Jacob enters the 'Ancient Gates of Abraham' to travel across the contradictory and prejudiced roads within the Kingdom of Religious Confusion. Often struggling to remain ...
Devastated by his young daughters' tragic death, Jacob is determined to find God to ask Him why He allowed her tragedy to happen. No longer sure where to find God, or if He exists, Jacob enters the 'Ancient Gates of Abraham' to travel across the contradictory and prejudiced roads within the Kingdom of Religious Confusion. Often struggling to remain open-minded, he engages religious leaders, devout followers, agnostics, and atheists in commonsense conversations to understand why their philosophy will lead him to God, or prove God's non-existence. Yet, the more he travels the more confused he becomes, and not until his arduous journey is near its end does he find an answer - an answer he was not expecting to unearth."
Posted April 11, 2012
Watching helplessly as his 9-year-old daughter, Jessica, is struck by a car and killed shatters the Roman Catholic faith of the protagonist, Jacob A. Hinsen. Plagued by a need to know that God exists and that Jessica is in a safe place, Jacob loads up his backpack and sets off on a journey to investigate the tenets of the West’s three major religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all the while hoping to have a direct encounter with God.
Jacob’s journey takes him down major thoroughfares marked, in turn, “The Road to Christianity,” “The Road to Islam,” and the “Road to Judaism.” As he travels these roads to seek out authorities he can question about each faith, he also takes many of the paths that branch off of the main roads: Roman Catholicism vs. Protestantism (and its many subpaths) vs. Mormonism; Sunni vs. Shi’a Islam, etc.).
On each road or path Jacob visits the person other travelers recommend to him as being articulate spokespersons for their faith. He begins by visiting a priest friend he has known for years.
Although the “roads traveled” resemble a mythical quest, Jacob’s conversations as a seeker are never simply academic exercises. He asks probing, insightful questions, listens carefully to the responses, and is quick to point out inconsistencies in his host’s explanations. Neither are the religious authorities Jacob visits wooden characters. They come across as flesh-and-blood human beings, dedicated to their particular faith and patient in their responses to Jacob’s respectful, but sometimes confrontational, line of questioning.
An example of the humanity of the book is when, during Jacob’s talk with his priest friend, a Roman Catholic Cardinal stops to visit the priest and turns out to be the former Catholic school principal who put the fear of God into Jacob years ago when Jacob was in a Catholic school. At another time Jacob is embarrassed to learn that the revered Islamic scholar he inquires about turns out to be the woman he asks to direct him in a library.
Schade’s most remarkable achievement is that the authorities Jacob seeks out and questions, in addition to being extremely knowledgeable and articulate about their beliefs, all come across, with the exception of an extreme fundamentalist here and there, as compassionate, likeable characters Jacob ends up respecting and considering friends after he has grilled them about their beliefs. Indeed, the reader comes away with great respect for the intellectual integrity of even the one atheist Jacob encounters.
This book could only have been written after years of diligent research into the beliefs of the major religions covered (and their offshoots). One could read this book simply as an engaging story, but it is also an excellent summation of what adherents of these faiths believe. Anyone interested in religion will find this book fascinating.
Did Jacob find the assurances he was looking for on his journey? Did he have the direct encounter with God he so desperately sought? You’ll just have to read the book to find out.
Posted May 18, 2007
And in the case of LOOKING FOR GOD WITHIN THE KINGDOM OF RELIGIOUS CONFUSION, it is written VERY well by AW Schade. There has always been a need for novels of this sort that explore the differences and similarities among religious faiths, but at this particular time in our history this book is extremely timely. While most of us are perplexed by world incidents - the terrorist attacks and threats, the seemingly interminable schism between Israel and Palestine, the fractured portions of Islam that are eroding the countries of Iraq and Afghanistan in civil wars, the splintering of the Catholic Church in various areas of the globe, the Fundamentalist versus the Liberal Christian dichotomy that divide the US - few solid answers as to why 'religions' that purport to respond to the wishes of the same God/Allah/Yahweh can wreck havoc on fellowman. Is the Supreme Being a source of love and peace or a source of wrath? Schade approaches this question with a novel: Jacob is a single Catholic father who, after enduring the atrocities of the Vietnam War, witnesses the brutal, accidental death of his only daughter. In anguish he sets out to find God and to search for the reasons of the cruelties he is witnessing. Jacob enters through the Gateway of Abraham to the mythical Kingdom of Religious Confusion, a place with many paths to take, each named after religious groups or sects. He has enlightened conversations with a Catholic priest, a series of Protestants including a Mormon practitioner, a Lutheran minister, various clergy from the Junction of Majority (Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Disciples of Christ, etc), an atheist, a Muslim educator, and a Jewish Rabbi. Each of the interviews reveal insights to the various religions, tying the similarities to the differences in a manner that makes the kernel beliefs clearly understandable. Jacob wants one-on-one proof that God exists and each of the generous learned people he meets can only go so far in making the concept of 'faith' credible for Jacob. After hearing from all the resources Jacob finds his own answers within himself. And for those whose background in religious training is scant, Jacob's journey is enlightening. Schade offers the tenants of these Western religions in a sound, instructive manner. After his struggle with all of the new information he has gleaned, he offers (through Jacob) the following: 'If, however, I have chosen the incorrect paths to follow, I believe a loving God knows the chaos I am trying to reconcile, and the ease in which a seeker can lose their way. I believe if I should travel the wrong path, God will know my journey has been in a righteous direction, not perfect by a long shot, and accept me for trying.' This is a wise little book that not only a fascinating read, but also a resource for those who wish to understand the different religions of the world. Schade writes with fluid prose and with careful concern for his reader's database. We can only hope Schade's next similar and much needed book will embrace the Eastern religions, as he has proven himself a fine teacher as well as a fine writer. Grady HarpWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.