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I found out about Jason Boyett's website when I first got on Twitter. Someone posted a blurb basically saying "here's a funny guy talking about Jesus" and I followed it and found something--or rather someone--very interesting. Here was a guy who wasn't afraid to say "I'm a Christian, but I have some questions." Here was a guy who didn't subscribe to the party line and who invited people--Christian and non-Christian--to say what they really thought. And he wrote with a dry humor that made me laugh, daily. I was impressed. For the first time in a very long time, here was a place where I could go and express things long held inside. And here was a place where people like me could come and realize -- "Hey, I am not alone." <P>
So when I heard Jason had a new book coming out, O ME OF LITTLE FAITH, a memoirs of his journey through Christianity and his struggle with doubt, I begged him to let me review it. So here I am, but as I write this, I find suddenly that words fail me. How do you comment on another person's barefaced honesty? How do you explain to someone else how amazing it is to read what another Christian, being open and real, has to say about his innermost thoughts and fears and doubts? I'm not sure, but I'll give it a try.<P>
First, I have to say that almost every sentence in Jason's book makes me stop and think. The word "thought-provoking" seems very lame in trying to convey the real impact this book had on me. His experiences in church, in revivals, in daily life, mirror the very real spiritual awakenings--or lack of--and questions that arise in a Christian's life. There is no pious preaching in these pages, and no "Christianspeak" meant to evoke an emotional response in the reader. There is just straight out "Here's what I think, what I've questioned, what I wonder about" coupled with some good old Jason Boyett humor, historical and Biblical references, and honest reflections. <P>
There are specific doubts addressed in the book, but no real conclusions reached. If you're expecting a book that features some kind of heart-shattering realization by its author as he reaches a Heaven-sent level of understanding, this might not be the book for you. This is a book of frank self-appraisal by a Christian who has walked out of the box of the intellectual constrictions often placed upon us by the church, our pastors, our teachers, and ourselves. This is a book that asks some hard questions that can't really be answered. Yet in this same book there is a call to faith that cannot be ignored, along with an admonition to keep believing, that is both reassuring and real.<P>
As someone who eventually learned in her evangelical life that she was never quite in step with the rest of her Christian friends, finding Jason's website, (www.jasonboyett.com), and reading his book, has meant a lot to me. O ME OF LITTLE FAITH not only sends a breath of fresh air careening through the often stuffy realm of Christian publications, but contains a message borne on the winds of honesty, courage, and compassion.
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Posted June 24, 2010
The first thing I will say about O Me of Little Faith is that it is very easy reading. Boyett's writing is clear, straightforward, and pretty darn funny too. I particularly enjoyed his employment of the humorous footnote, a technique that numerous other authors have used to great affect. He tackles pretty difficult subjects, including The Ontological Argument for God and the philosophy of Kierkegaard, without either flying over the heads of the average reader or dumbing down the subject matter. You can tell he knows something about what he is talking about, without pretending to be an expert where he is not. I like that kind of honesty in an author.
The real reason that I enjoyed this book so much, though, is because something resonated with me on nearly every page. I know intimately the kind of doubts that Boyett is talking about, because I have struggled and still do struggle with nearly all of them myself, despite the fact that my life story and faith history is quite different from his.
For example, Chapter 5, "Reverse Bricklaying," is all about Boyett's struggle with prayer, and I found myself saying "YES! EXACTLY!" to pretty much the whole chapter. Like this: "I would guess that, for most Christians, the majority of prayers are prayed silently. Yet I am virtually incapable of silent prayer. The practice of praying in my head - of lining up stray thoughts to present to God in an official, well-reasoned, and coherent manner - is like sweeping marbles with a push-broom on a gym floor. I can't sustain it for any length of time before everything scatters." Oh my gosh YES.
So, who should read this book? Well, this book is definitely written by a Protestant Christian with an Evangelical background. Does that mean Catholics or Anglicans or even non-Christians wouldn't benefit from this book? I don't know. Maybe. If I had read this book when I was a Catholic, some of the chapters, such as the one where Boyett discusses doubting his salvation, would not have been relevant to me. Although, with a bit of application and translation, I think Boyett's discussions would be helpful for any Christian. Maybe as a Catholic I never doubted the efficacy of my moment of salvation. But I certainly did struggle tremendously with doubting, when I went to confession, whether or not my confessions had been thorough, clear and penitent enough to gain me full absolution.
And for a non-Christian? Well, while this book does have a couple of things to say about doubt in general, it is pretty much specifically about doubting faith in God and Jesus. So if you don't have faith in God or Jesus, I am not sure what this book would do for you. I suppose at the very least it could be an interesting read for anyone wanting to get inside the head of a thoughtful Christian.
TThe people this book is really aimed at are people just like Jason Boyett - Evangelical Protestants who are still at some level committed to their faith while also struggling with doubts. If that's you, this book will give you comfort and wisdom.
And if you are an Evangelical Protestant who has never doubted your faith in your whole life - well, this book might shock or irritate you. But it also might be really good for you to read if it would help you to empathize with folks not blessed with faith as unshakable as yours.
I absolutely loved this book. Jason Boyett knows how to keep the readers attention. The writing style reminded me of "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller. Boyett is informal with his audience and just tells it like it is. He is also not afraid of using humor. I found myself laughing hysterically at a few of the comments he made about his personal life, but not at him. I was laughing because so often I feel the same way he does. Especially, when it comes to doubt. I have had the same issues and still do quite often. The book of James had a lot to say about faith and in James 1:3 he says "for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." The more our faith is tested the more our faith is set. Boyett was very real with his faith and his doubts.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an easy read that will not point you to him, but to yourself and ultimately Christ. What I mean by yourself is as you laugh and read this book you will see yourself more often than not in it and it was great.
Posted May 6, 2010
This book is exactly what the title suggests. It's the recounting of one man's journey with God and doubt.
Jason Boyett is very forthcoming about his story. I found this honest account of his ongoing battle with doubt refreshing.
Too many times we either brush our doubt under a rug and pretend everything's fine or just refuse to acknowledge it altogether. At least that's the case with me. More and more I'm unable to ignore the doubts that creep up. (Mom, don't worry, that's not a proclamation of leaving the faith.) I have to meet them head on and either overcome them or learn to live with them, as the author does.
The thing that I found so beautiful in this book was the choice that he makes to "believe" even when things are unbelievable. That's the hope that I came away with. Even when you can't wrap your head around a concept, you can still choose to have faith.
Choose to have faith. That's what I want. That's what I choose. Every day.
Posted May 3, 2010
I must commend Jason Boyett for catching that most illusive of literary prey - readability. His book (O Me of Little Faith: True Confessions of a Spiritual Weakling) is both interesting and enjoyable. It is pleasant to read. He combines vulnerability, humility, and self-disclosure with brief (possibly too brief) discussions of Christian apologetics. All the while he tells interesting stories and provides funny illustrations.
This book provides a personal, ongoing journey through valleys of doubt and peaks of faith. Along the way it provides wonderful gems of Biblical, cultural, and spiritual insight while also running into a few logical and Biblical potholes.
Boyett has a knack for observing the inconsistencies of modern American "churchianity." He rightfully notes that many of the intellectual and pragmatic objections to Christianity are answered unsatisfactorily by Christians (so-called). For example, he notes the false god of "American evangelical Christian religion" who is "totally cool with the money we spend on concert lighting in the worship center while the widow down the block has a hole in her roof" (p. 129).
One of Boyett's greatest strengths is also one his greatest weakness. The reader is deeply empathetic with his doubt struggles and particularly interested in the answers he has found to deal with his rollercoaster of faith and doubt. Unfortunately he either refuses to give answers by hiding behind the "I'm no theologian/scholar" excuse or giving examples of unsatisfactory responses he has found (e.g., Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell are not at the top of my list of credentialed, well-researched, exegetically qualified, and philosophically sound apologists).
Boyett takes issue with a hard deterministic view of God's sovereignty, the philosophical "problem of evil," and purely rational (as opposed to presuppositional) apologetics. While this book cannot answer every philosophical issue of Christianity, I would have hoped Boyett could have offered a few alternative Christian views on these subjects. The only intense objection I have with this book is the conflation of the Biblical perspective of doubt with Boyett's personal doubts. In the Bible various characters doubt the trustworthiness of the promises of God, but Boyett is doubting (it appears) the very existence of God. I cannot find a Biblical character doubting the existence of God.
All-in-all reading this book is like sitting down for a drink with a close friend. You are never exactly sure where the conversation will take you (e.g., church history, liturgy, sin, existentialism, apologetics, etc.) but you will be glad you had a chat. Along the way you will be challenged and maybe even frustrated. You will learn some good spiritual lessons and you will be encouraged to give voice to the questions and doubts with which you wrestle.
Posted April 28, 2010
1) It's honest. Brutally honest. It's essentially a book filled with his confessions - how much he doubts and how imperfect he is. We could all learn a lesson or two from his act of honesty.
2) More likely than not, you have struggled at some point in time with the same questions he struggles with. It's the perfect book to help you feel like you're not alone in your doubting. If you haven't, you're not being honest with yourself - so you should go back to reason number 1 to read it.
3) This is a story of someone who grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition and learned along the way the value of learning from other denominations. No one denomination is 100% right. Jason pulls from rich liturgical traditions to help him when the simple answer of "Jesus saves" isn't enough to hold him up. At the same time, he embraces the power that exists behind charismatic traditions. I love the way he pulls things from various denominational traditions to help him discover what he believes. If you think you are 100% right in all you do and your denomination or traditions are better than others, revert back to number 1 for why you should read this book.
4) If you're in full-time paid ministry, there are many people that you encounter that struggle with the same kinds of questions Jason struggles with. Whether you can identify with what he's saying or not, you should know how to relate to people who are where he is. And if you think you can't identify with what he's saying, then I point you back to number 1 for why you should read it.
5) He's incredibly intelligent. Jason will probably tell you that he's not that smart - but I would disagree. This book is a brilliant portrayal of how intellectual giants wrestle with doubt and yet still have faith. His most brilliant point: faith & doubt are not mutually exclusive. In fact, faith & doubt work hand in hand with one another. If we don't doubt, then there's no need for faith. When we intellectually can't understand something, that's when faith steps in. If you think you understand everything - well, then - I guess you're just stuck with reason number 1 to read this book.
Posted April 28, 2010
Finally. I have needed a book like this for about 5 years now, and Jason Boyett has delivered with O Me of Little Faith. It is a book written by a life-long Christian (like I am) who is immersed in the Christian culture (like I am), is very active in his local church (like I am), and has written several books and magazine articles about Christian/religious topics (like I would like to do), yet he struggles with spiritual doubt (like I do).
First let me say a big "Thank You!" to Jason for being courageous enough to admit to the world that he wrestles with some intellectual issues in his faith. In the introduction Jason writes, "I am a Christian. I have been a Christian for most of my life. But there are times - a growing number of times, to be honest - when I'm not entirely sure I believe in God."
The thing that I appreciated most about reading Jason's book is that I felt like he has given me (and many others) permission to own our doubt. Many of us doubters feel like we can't be honest about our doubts because that will show that we are weak. In fact, the tagline of Jason's book is "True Confessions of a Spiritual Weakling." But Jason not only talks about his doubt, he also shares why doubt is not necessarily a negative thing, and there are ways to still live faithfully as a follower of Jesus while still having doubt.
Let me share a few of my favorite moments from the book. Notice the journey Jason takes us on throughout the book:
*My entire spiritual self rests on the belief that God exists...That's why the question of God's existence is the biggest question of my life and yours. What if everything rests on the back of a turtle whose existence is impossible to prove?
*The more I struggle with my own faith, the less impressed I am with rational arguments - whether for or against the existence of God.
*God is hard to prove. God is hard to disprove. The existence or nonexistence of God is unprovable.
*It's hard to believe in an unprovable, mysterious God. But, mostly, I do. Maybe a better way to put it is that I have chosen to believe.
*Am I a bad Christian because explaining every detail as "God at work in my life" seems like religious narcissism instead of profound faith?
*When it comes to matters of faith, I find more common ground among atheists and agnostics than I do with doubt-free Christians. But I still believe. I choose faith, despite my doubts.
*How in the world do you begin to pray when you don't understand prayer, barely tolerate prayer, and can't find the discipline to get beyond your prayer hang-ups?
*Liturgy taught me to pray again.
*I accept my doubt for what it is. I embrace my humanity and the stumbling faith and limited understanding that come with it. I keep walking despite my limp.
*There are few things that turn me off more than people who speak with absolute certitude about complex issues (like eschatology or the Bible) or deep mysteries (like God or the saving work of Christ).
*Doubt is an essential part of faith. They are companions.
*Faith is action - action taken right in the middle of your doubts.
*Don't let your doubts stop you from living in faith.
*When it comes to following the teachings of Jesus and the traditions of Christianity, I have decided not to let my doubt paralyze
Posted April 22, 2010
Jason Boyett's latest book is a nice break from his traditional "Pocket Guides" that you may be used to. If that makes you sad, take comfort that the book is relatively small (222 pages) and may still fit in your pocket. In this book, Boyett takes the reader down "the doubter's road" and carefully looks at "the questions many of us have, but dare not say out loud." Questions like: Does God even exist? What is your foundation for faith? How can you really be sure you are saved? And where does my faith go when God is silent? And before you finish your "heretic" sign, know that it's not the point of this book to cast doubt, but rather to admit doubt. Many times through this reading I found myself agreeing with Boyett out loud (which is stupid, because he lives in Texas and can't hear me) and I think this book would resonate with a lot of Christians today regardless of how long you have walked with Christ.
What I think Boyett touches on is perhaps we doubt the "pseudo-god" that is created by American Christianity. This is the Jesus from t-shirts and bobble heads who wants to give us money, hugs puppies and looks like a castmember from the musical Hair. "I don't believe in that God," writes Boyett. "If I am going to draw close to God, it needs to be a God who's greater than that." And there is no reason I can see why doubt and faith can't exist side by side; one is not the opposite of the other. We worship a God who is both human and deity, flesh and spirit, who died and yet lives. why can't we as his followers be sinners and saints (as Martin Luther said, "simul iustus et peccator") from the world, but not of it, free but chosen .and faithful and at the same time doubtful?
"Doubt is a condition of humanity" says Boyett. "but doubt is no excuse for inaction. If you wait until all doubt is removed before you follow God, you'll never take the first step of faith."
Boyett's book is well written and filled with stories that will draw you in and make you laugh. I would highly recommend this book to perhaps the person you know who has question and wrestles with their own sense of doubt or the person who has always felt they had it all together.
I received this book for free from Zondervan publishing for the purpose of writing an honest review. In no way did I have to like or endorse this book - even though I did and I do.
Posted June 21, 2010
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Posted June 4, 2010
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Posted February 13, 2011
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Posted March 31, 2011
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Posted August 8, 2010
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