Book 8: Good God, Lousy World & Me

2014-04-25

I can’t believe I’ve already finished 8 books for the #EmptyShelf Challenge! This time I picked up a book that pushed me outside my comfort zone. Let me tell you more…

Title: Good God, Lousy World, & Me: The Improbable Journey of a Human Rights Activist from Unbelief to Faith
Author: Holly Burkhalter
Publisher: Convergent (2013)

What the book is about

Good God, Lousy World & Me is an autobiographical journey of how a self-described feminist liberal, who hates injustice and suffering in the world, found Christ and is learning to follow Him. Burkhalter’s approach is very raw and refreshing. She has a gift for opening her heart to share what grieves her (most of her career has focused on bringing relief to people all over the world through work with Human Rights Watch, then Physicians for Human Rights, and currently International Justice Mission) and her life-long battle with God.

The book chronicles her search for justice, not just at the level of human physical and emotional suffering, but also at the spiritual level: “If God is good, how can He allow this?!?!” Eventually, she finds her answers…sort of. In the final chapters it is clear she still doesn’t understand God, but who can? (“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” Romans 11:34 (ESV).) It is also clear she is still learning to trust Him, but who isn’t?

Why I read this book

A discipline I have tried to exercise is to be open to understanding how people who are different than myself think, see the world, interpret it, and learn to live in it. In this case, I read a book written by a Christian liberal. I struggle with that because “Christian liberal” feels like an oxymoron to me, but after reading this book, I realize that Burkhalter and I are much the same. Neither of us can claim to understand God and we are both learning to trust Him. Aren’t you, regardless of your socio-political leanings?

Favorite idea

In this case, I can’t say I have a “favorite idea” from this book. Instead, I have a favorite realization, but one that I already hold to: The value of taking time to explore perspectives and ideas that are different than my own. By reading Burkhalter’s book, I also have a greater understanding of why Christian liberals don’t understand me, a Christian conservative. That’s a highly valuable insight!

Do I recommend this book?

Yes, I recommend this book, but if you are like me, you will be very frustrated in the first half of the book as you journey at Burkhalter’s side on her way to discovering Christ. However, this is a sign of a good book—it made me feel as I read it.

You will also likely be challenged to consider your theological principles, as Burkhalter’s writing reveals she is still maturing in her faith and understanding of what it is to be a Christian (but again, aren’t we all?).

(Click here to learn more about the #EmptyShelf Challenge.)

Dr. Scott Yorkovich is a leadership coach and consultant. He works with individuals, small and medium organizations, and ministries. Contact him at ScottYorkovich[at]LeadStrategic.com with your questions.

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