When a book about grace begins by describing a dinner with Christopher Hitchens, you know you’re in for a treat. Larry Alex Taunton’s The Grace Effect absolutely does not disappoint.
Taunton presents the idea that society needs “Christianity’s gentling, inspiring, and culturally transforming power.” Using the story of the adoption of his daughter from a corrupt Ukrainian system, Taunton paints a picture of a dark world in which life itself loses its value. Throughout the story, Taunton deftly weaves the religious, political and social history of Ukraine with the very real present-day challenges of adopting a child from a former Soviet bloc country.
The story is peppered with memorable scenes illustrating the effect that the suppression of Christianity during the Soviet era had on the country from the inescapable moment that Taunton is faced with the first official asking for a bribe to the utter disbelief from locals that he was there to adopt a child that they had all but forgotten.
Mixed in with these scenes is a simple scene much like one we encounter in the U.S. Taunton describes what happened when he and his teenage son took a walk around their Ukrainian neighborhood and decided to stop at McDonalds. Here, we wait in line and allow others who arrived before us to go ahead of us. There, customers brush each other to get to the counter when the cashier asks, “Can I help the next customer?”
It’s a simple moment, but it’s one that simply and brilliantly illustrates Taunton’s thesis … and leaves you thinking about the role of grace on the simple moments of your own life.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson’s Booksneeze program for providing me with a free copy of this book for review.