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, December 11, 2022

Review: The Grace of Troublesome Questions: Vocation, Restoration, and Race

The Grace of Troublesome Questions: Vocation, Restoration, and Race The Grace of Troublesome Questions: Vocation, Restoration, and Race by Richard T Hughes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Get Out of my Head :-)

As a PK within the Disciples of Christ (which shares its Stone/Campbell roots with the author’s Churches of Christ), this was a very interesting book with respect to how each tradition evolved to where they are today. In many respects, it filled in a lot for me (and I thought I already knew a significant part of our history). More importantly, despite the optimism found early within the movement, our theology didn’t evolve within the true spirit of Christ … in fact, the author connects many of the flaws within out theology to many of the pernicious ills within (American/Western) society … calling us to task for our tacit (and sometimes explicit) support for slavery, segregation, et. al. He does so be exploring several social myths within [White] American society that I have generally seen as well, so I was favorably receptive to most of his arguments. If you are generally unsympathetic to BLM and/or typically “stay in your lane” in your treatment of those people on the margin, this book may be a tad uncomfortable (surprise, these are troublesome questions right … and he has some particularly harsh words for evangelicals specifically). Although I was i general agreement with many of his myths, I have come to realize that I actually have not gone far enough (so yeah … it was uncomfortable for me as well).

The book is divided into five (5) sections with the first section outlining the need to re-examine restorationist theology (and how it was originally formed) and the last section a general acknowledgement of the many people that help the author “see” his truth … and actually change his own understanding of the issues (much like my own father did as a contemporary … change of self is hard and admirable). Section two examines the restorationist movement as a whole with a surprising contract to evangelical theology that I was not aware of (given how the restoration movement and evangelicals appears to have evolved toward each other, this was not that surprising). Section three hits hard and is where the cracks in the current theology fails with respect to “The Kingdom of God” … It should not be overly controversial viewing that Jesus ministered to the margins … but our ability to turn a blind eye to those people with appear theological justification is. Section four is the call to action … and is the hardest part of the whole book. While there are no specific steps to follow, it becomes clear that we are called to do something (and the author turns to the examples of the Anabaptists/Reform churches for a road map). Just understanding the national myths and systemic biases of our society is a good start (and is helpful for fostering empathy and even love), but the hard part has always been taking the next step …

Section One: Called by Troublesome Questions

- Chapter 1: The Grace of Troublesome Questions

- Chapter 2: The Apocalyptic Origins of the Churches of Christ

- Chapter 3: Two Restoration Traditions: Mormons and Churches of Christ in the Nineteenth Century

Section Two: Called by a Book - Making Sense of the Restoration Vision

- Chapter 4: Called by a Book

- Chapter 5: Restoring First Times in the Anglo-American Experience

- Chapter 6: What Restorationists Don’t Fit the Evangelical Mold

Section Three: Called by the Upside-Down Kingdom of God

- Chapter 7: How a Teacher Heard the Call of Racial Justice

- Chapter 8: The Summons from the Biblical Text

- Chapter 9: Why I Am Not an Evangelical Christian

Section Four: Called to Question - The Restoration Vision, Innocence, and Race

- Chapter 10: How a Naive and Innocent Student Discerned the Umbilical Cord That Tie His Church to His Nation - And the Nation to His Church

- Chapter 11: The Restoration Vision and the Myth of the Innocent Nation

- Chapter 12: How Slavery Still Shapes the World of White Evangelical Christians

- Chapter 13: Resisting White Supremacy

- Chapter 14: Christian Nationalism and Racial Injustice: Where Do People Faith Go From Here?

- Chapter 15: How Can We Rethink the Restoration Vision ?

Section Five: The People Who Issued the Many Calls That Shaped My Vocation

- Chapter 16: The People Who Shaped My Vocation

- Chapter 17: Finding Someone to Love

- Chapter 18: “Next Time, Send Jan”

- Chapter 19: They Believed in Me: The Grace of Good Teachers

- Chapter 20: Five Words That Made a Difference - And the Man Who Spoke Them

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

#TheGraceOfTroublesomeQuestions #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.