On the bookshelf: Mondays with My Old Pastor by José Luis Navajo

I wanted to read this book – I wanted to love this book – from the moment I read the description on the Booksneeze web site:

In lyrical prose, Navajo shares the personal anecdotes, fables, and deep spiritual insights offered by the old pastor and his wife. By turns funny, heartbreaking, and thought provoking, Mondays with My Old Pastor is a comfort to anyone who struggles in his or her walk with God. As readers follow Navajo’s journey from desperation to rejuvenation, they will find themselves similarly transformed and inspired. This moving, beautifully written account is sure to reignite every soul’s longing for renewal.

While full of truth about love and service, loss and love, the book simply didn’t live up to the description for me. Each chapter settled into a rhythm of a knock at the door, entrance into the old pastor’s home, a short conversation and the old pastor inevitably telling a story before the young pastor would leave with a new revelation about God. It started to seem, to me, like a series of sermon illustrations strung together by brief snippets of conversations.

In fact, I wonder if it wouldn’t have made a better read if it had been written without the conversational tone. A loving recounting of the lessons taught by the old pastor would have been just as insightful.

I was also a bit skeptical about the participants’ astounding ability to quote writers as varied as Leo Tolstoy and Benjamin Franklin. Since it’s a memoir, I assume they really did speak like this.

On the basis of the lessons taught by the old pastor, I could easily recommend this book.

But, on the basis of the writing style and presentation, I just can’t. As it progressed, I found it more and more difficult to continue.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and their Booksneeze program for giving me a free copy of this book for my unbiased review.

One Word 2013: Delight

Through the hallway. Out the door of the CNN Center. Down the sidewalk. Up the ramps. Up the stairs.

I settled into the orange seat near the rafters of the Georgia Dome on January 2 just after the evening session at Passion 2013 started.

It was the first full session I was able to see. The day before, I had sorted socks for hours before grabbing a quick dinner, watching a few minutes of the opening session and heading off to volunteer at Kneel, the student prayer room.

I’m totally biased, but the prayer room is the absolutely best place to serve during a Passion event. Students come and go throughout the event – kneeling, standing, sitting, prostrating themselves in prayer. One afternoon, they waited in line until the over-packed prayer rooms had space for them to pray! Continue reading