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, April 2, 2023

Review: Words with God: Trading Boring, Empty Prayer for Real Connection

Words with God: Trading Boring, Empty Prayer for Real Connection Words with God: Trading Boring, Empty Prayer for Real Connection by Addison D Bevere
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Prayer in three (3) parts. Part one looks at recognizing the Voice of God vs the Voice of the Adversary. While the concept of the quiet voice is fairly de rigueur the analogy with a Canyon Echo was a bit of a stretch for me. There were a few interesting observation though, such as life on the canyon wall switchbacks, our tendency to want answers immediately (just can’t wait) and the role of pain/suffering in spiritual growth (a common Catholic view point) Part two tries to give us a useful definitions of the Kingdom of God and our place in it (aka there should be no separation of secular and sacred), as well as the need to practice being good. No new revelations for me here; however, I will acknowledge that for most it might be. Part three seems to look a basic characteristics of prayer, presumable to make prayer better. There is no formula or strict steps to take, and this is pitched as a good thing, because reducing prayer to that would actually make it less effective … although the author does introduce at least three (3) prayer frameworks that appear to do just that: The Examen, The Office and Lectio Divina.

As with many personal/anecdotal stories that are used to buttress the concepts the author is trying to teach, they all run the risk that they just don’t connect with a reader that has a markedly different experience and/or world view and that can undermine the point somewhat. One particular example was the idea shared by many christians that you need to [wake up early and] withdraw [into a closet] to engage in structured prayer in silence … none of which is true. To be fair, the author seems tp only hold on to the latter as a requirement … which is strange because he then goes into the pray without ceasing mantra that can only happen the you live your prayer amidst the noise and chaos of life. While I understood the sentiment, the wording was awkward for me because I didn’t connect with the premise. This disconnect was aggravated when he attempted to trace the original of the word “intimacy” to the latin “in timor” (into fear … which is actually the origin of the word intimidate) … and is something that none of the etymologies that I have access to would support. Such word games undermines my faith into the rest of his research (however, despite my misgivings, his research is generally good).

Ultimately there were several observation, opinions and interpretations that didn’t quite resonate with me despite the book having a number of true gems within it. One such example would be when it states that “There’s a sense that God can forgive only what is confessed, so we rack our brains, searching out any wrong done or right left undone. [Only] Once every item is confessed can we be on our way, hopefully feeling bad enough to never do those things again.” This is a decidedly Catholic sentiment that, having grown up in a Protestant tradition, just doesn’t resonate with me very well. That said, there is still enough here to make it worth the read.

Part 1: The Canyon
1. The Voice
2. Into Silence
3. The Prayer

Part 2: The Temple
4. What We Call God
5. Seeing the Kingdom
6. Opening the Conversation

Part 3: The Dance
7. The Integrator
8. I Am Here
9. How Should We Ask?
10. Confession, Sin, and Conscience
11. Me to We
12. Forgiveness
13. Trials, Temptations, and Joys
14. In the Name

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

#WordsWithGod #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.