About This Blog

Monday, November 28, 2016

"God is Not Fair and Other Reasons for Gratitude" (Daniel P. Horan)

TITLE: God Is Not Fair, and Other Reasons for Gratitude
AUTHOR: Daniel P. Horan
PUBLISHER: Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2016, (144 pages).

This is a Christian book with a strange title. Using a counterintuitive title to draw curiosity, it is also about learning not to see things from the eyes of individualism but through God's eyes. As long as we wear personal subjectivity and egoistical lenses, we will accuse God of being unfair for the most part. The key thesis of this book is that we need both open minds and open hearts in order to grow in faith. Gratitude is that key to cope with the harsh realities of life; the complex cultures around us; and to unlock the mystery of faith. Through a series of reflections from cultural symbols to modern icons of the world, readers are invited to reflect on what it means to live in a world that seems so unfair. For Christians, it is about living in an intersection of theology, scripture, culture, and relationships. Part One focuses on the Christian faith in the modern world. What do we make of the movie depictions of zombies and World War Z? In a world flooded by negative media depiction of priests, can we still find dignity in the priesthood? What are we going to do about slavery? Can nonviolence and the abolishment of capital punishment bring about greater good in the world of violence and evil? What about failures? Who and what is a saint all about? These issues and more are looked at from the eyes of faith.

Part Two is about the relationship between the Bible and our culture. While the first part of the book is about seeing the world for what it is, this part is about seeing the world from the eyes of Scripture. The Advent is a perfect way to see the world in terms of the already and not-yet, just like us living in between the two comings of Christ. He helps us see from the Bible about fairness and gradually turns us toward the virtues of generosity, love, and mercy. If we cannot prevent the world from getting worse, at least we can do our part in doing some good within our respective spheres or influence. There is a special chapter about prayer entitled: "When Prayer Becomes about Us" which reminds us how easy it is to turn religious practices in consumeristic and individualistic terms. There is also a chapter on John Oliver and how he cracks jokes to laugh at the world, and at the same time highlighting a certain truth which we sometimes fail to acknowledge. There are reflections on Easter, prophecy, Holy Spirit, Freedom, Truth, Humility, and how Luke 13 made the author uncomfortable. Each the chapters in this section is a direct reflection on a scripture passage printed right at the top of each chapter.

Finally, Part Three is about vocation that incorporates insights, challenges, invitations, and exhortations. Instead of limiting the talk to the priesthood and the religious people serving in cathedrals or churches, Horan invites all believers to consider how their lives reflect the call of God in the world at large. We hear the Word and live the call. We live this out in the world to become a "certain kind of worldly people" who offers to others a template of what it means to live and enjoy life without needing to adhere to the practices of worldliness. In other words, Christians too can have good clean fun. These and many more give us encouragement not to lock up our Christian lives within the four walls of the Church.

This book is essentially about living our Christian lives openly and boldly declaring the call of God in engaging the culture and the world at large. It is inspired by the life of St Francis of Assisi whose words remain relevant for today: “The Lord has shown me what was mine to do in this life, may the Lord show you what is yours.” It attempts to help us avoid dichotimizing ourselves into our world and the outside world. As Christ has said, we are in the world but not of the world. If we adopt a separatist mindset, we will have trouble in relating to the world and view all things outside suspiciously. That is not necessary. Christ himself did not separate himself from the people and the world. He engaged actively with day to day people. He ministered fervently and faithfully. He even died for the world. As followers of Jesus, we are encouraged to do the same and to serve all. Horan does an important job in encouraging us to work and interact in the world from the foundation of Scripture. He acknowledges that many Christians have not done this more enough which is why he allocated an entire section on the book for scripture and application. The brief chapters in this book also communicates a second meaning. We do not need to go through a long project or meticulous curriculum in order to be effective in this world. In some small ways, we can be present to the needy in the world we live in.

The author Daniel Horan is a Franciscan friar of Holy Name Province (NY) who has authored several books and scholarly articles. He is former chaplain of Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Franciscan Media and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment