My Favorite Books

The Walking Drum
Ender's Game
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Curse of Chalion
The Name of the Wind
Chronicles of the Black Company
The Faded Sun Trilogy
The Tar-Aiym Krang

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Review: The Road Away from God: How Love Finds Us Even as We Walk Away

The Road Away from God: How Love Finds Us Even as We Walk Away The Road Away from God: How Love Finds Us Even as We Walk Away by Jonathan Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every now and then, if you are lucky, you will have an encounter that resonates with your soul and you weep for the beauty now revealed.

Reading this book was one of those encounters for me, and I was totally not expecting that. To begin with, I didn't pick up the book for myself, I picked up the book because I wanted to be able to reach the “unchurched” who no longer feel that my Church is a spiritually safe home … and this book is absolutely aimed at those people, but the advice here was not the answer I was searching for. Ultimately this reimagining of the “Road to Emmaus” story in Luke re-affirms the idea that regardless of the reason they left and whatever road they are on, they are right where they are supposed to be. Sometimes that is hard to take when you are the one left behind … and that is where this book hit me.

I have never really had a “crisis of faith” that would set me adrift to wander the “Godforsaken Road” to Emmaus. In fact, I come from a family with generations of preachers, teachers and missionaries that helped create a rock solid faith foundation. And while I have changed church traditions, I never really considered myself as the target audience … because when all is said and done … I stayed. In fact, by seeking ordination, you could say that I even doubled down on the place so many now find it impossible to stay in. Imagine my surprise when one of the vignettes profiles a woman that “has not walked away from her faith, but she has had to walk away from some of the spaces that once seemed to nature it.” <— Yeah … that is me looking back from the mirror. What is more … I found the pain and grief that many of my friends and family have also encountered in the Church that prompted them to “walk away.” Until now … I had always felt it was my mission to help bring them back when perhaps it would have been better to walk with them on the their Road to Emmaus instead. In short … I have a new perspective on dealing with the “people in the margins” where we can find the true Christ.

However, if you have trouble seeing these “people in the margins” and understanding their pain … this book is not for you. In the very first chapter, under the subheading of “What Sent You on the Road?” Martin introduces to a woman just coming to terms with her experience of sexual assault when the preacher decides to makes an impassioned defense of then Brett Kavanaugh along the lines of dismissing any concerns under the idea that the righteous are often falsely accused … if you are a partisan on either side, you have likely already formed your opinion about the author’s political views at this point … and you would have completely missed the point the author was trying to make. There is no opinion and condemnation of Kavanaugh here … instead you find a woman who feels that her own experiences, that color her world view, are irrelevant and were callously discarded by a pastor who job it was to minister to the broken. In other words, we the Church failed! Instead of answering Christ’s call to Love, we forced people to pick a side … so regardless if you have left to wander your own road (or if like me you have stayed despite the flaws), “Just keep on following the voice of Love. Don’t let the louder voices into your head. Don’t give in to the panic. Don’t let anybody else establish the terms.” You are exactly where you are supposed to be.

Chapter 1. The Road Called Godforsaken

Chapter 2. God on the Road Away from God

Chapter 3. When the Story Gets Too Small

Chapter 4. Your Pain in Real

Chapter 5. It’s Good to Be a Fan

Chapter 6. The Moment of Recognition

Chapter 7. People of the Burning Heart

Chapter 8. The Way Home

Chapter 9. What Had Happened on the Road

I was given this free advance review copy (ARC) ebook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

#TheRoadAwayFromGod #NetGalley.

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My Ratings Explained ...

  • [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
  • [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
  • [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
  • [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
  • [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.