Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found AgainTables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again by Preston Yancey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tables in the Wilderness

It's hard to review memoirs, because it more than ever feels like you're reviewing a person instead of a book. It's both wonderful and hard to review this book, because the author and I have been on such a similar journey. Raised Baptist, drawn to Anglican. Failed church. Good with words, so that the Long Night is one of silence, so that we can learn to hear God's language of breath and bone and stars and blood, of math and music, myth and metaphor, of gestures made and unmade, the language of an ever-expanding table with a place for everyone, of a love as bright as suns, as humble as dirt and sweat. And Preston is one of the few others I've seen/heard talk about the comfort of praying the prayers, the traditional prayers, the liturgical prayers, as you realize that you are praying by rote, just like the people you despised in your youth--and yet--those prayers, those pilgrims of the past, those saints; they have stood where you are standing, and their faith and prayers are holding you up as you walk across the vale of tears--you, too, are walking on the water, and Jesus takes your hand and smiles. God never left.

So instead of thinking of the book as a memoir or coming of age story, I treat it as Preston's testimony. He says at one point in the book, "I just want to hear someone preach a Jesus who is fiercely good and fiercely beautiful." Preston, you are fiercely on the way. But you knew that. The book is inspiring. Its painful honesty soars to truthtelling. It's written mostly in the present tense, which I do not like, because the transitions from past to present take one out of the story. But it's a good book, because there was lots of (internal) discussion with the author, lots of "right on!" and some "you're still so young." And some "oh heck" (that would denote the arrow of insight). There are some wonderful discussion questions in the back, and a "further reading" list. I think it would be a great book for older youth groups to read and discuss and pray on as the world changes, as churches build bridges, as God continues to work in the world to bring everyone, all of creation, to the table of grace and fellowship.
"Taste and see that the Lord is good."

Thank you Zondervan, netgalley, and God, for the opportunity to read and review this book in EARC format. It's worth re-viewing, keep it in your library.


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