Monday, March 05, 2007

Book Review: Confessions of an Amateur Believer

I finally made my way back to the blogging world. I am tempted to apologize, but with that comes a feeling of guilt for not posting when I 'should'...and none of us needs that. Blogging should be fun -- and for me personally, it is a creative outlet -- not some monkey on my back. I don't want to put pressure on myself or anyone else to post every single day, week, etc. That said, I will get to the review.

Confessions of an Amateur Believer
is a book I would normally have read through quickly, but ongoing health issues plus looking after a very active 10-month-old make for less available reading time. When I did make time to read, I truly enjoyed this book.

As a Christian with a certain set of beliefs, I went into this thinking that I might come across moments of disagreement with the author's own beliefs. And I did, but I was never bothered to the point of wanting to stop reading. On the contrary, I was pulled in by how open and raw Patty Kirk could be in sharing her life. There was such a rawness, in fact, that I found myself aching for her, for some of the things she has been through in her life.

"Not long after we got to California, my mom was diagnosed with a grapefruit-sized brain tumor and operated on the next day. Against all odds, she survived the operation and spent the next eleven years slowly dying. During that time, my parents divorced and my dad remarried..."

I also found it amazing that Kirk could so easily admit some of her faults, some things that a lot of us spend a lifetime trying to push under the rug whenever someone else is around.

"And so I gave up embarrassing myself for God entirely and went back to my old ways. If I had some terrible duty before me -- some kindness that I was loathe to undertake -- I would leave it to God. Do it yourself, I would tell him. Or
make me do it, if that's your will."

Patty Kirk was raised in the Catholic church and lost her faith at a young age. She spent years in other countries, in her unbelief, and later on married a Christian man and found her way back to God. Kirk has a real awareness of herself, and it seems that is also the case for both of her daughters, of whom she shares a great deal of entertaining stories.

But I think what gripped me most in the entire book were the accounts of her mother, who was looked after by Kirk's sister until she died. Nothing was glossed over, nothing was made easier to read. It was sad, purely and simply. But what made it beautiful was the way it grew her hope in her time of unbelief.

"My sister's love toward my mother spoke to me more loudly than the passages from the Bible that she and her husband made me listen to. Even after my mother was no longer aware of anything, Sharon cleaned and turned and patted and spoke to her. Sometimes she stood for a long time just holding her hand. Watching my sister from the doorway to the guestroom where our mother lay dying, part of me hoped, perhaps began to know even then, that Jesus
did love my mom, even as she had said he did."

I was saddened reading this passage, but I was also encouraged. Our actions play such a large part in influencing those around us, whether we do good or bad.

There was not a lot that I didn't like about this book. Like I said, I did come across things that I would disagree with as far as my beliefs go, but for the most part I found myself marking pages and underlining sentences and paragraphs so that I could share them with Casey that evening. I think that Confessions of an Amateur Believer speaks to many people on many different levels, and can be a real source of encouragement and enlightenment.

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