I used some of her selections and added my own to create a playlist for a situation I am going through right now That playlist has allowed some moments of reflection as well.
What a different life we could all lead if we just stop and wonder at the beauty in both the everyday and spectacular things that surround us in any moment Having survived a horrific automobile accident 9 years ago I had committed myself to trying to do this with the extra time God graced me with on this planet I am very cognizant of moments and beauty that I should appreciate most days as a result Being a believer in the value of this mindset I expected to appreciate Margaret s work with this book I never expected to be so newly inspired to be even aware of the wonder we can experience if we are just grateful in every moment Love this book.
I feel a certain affinity for Feinberg as an author because she is one of the few Christian authors out there who is successfully writing nonfiction and I mean literary nonfiction in America right now No doubt I am also emotionally attached because she spoke at my alma mater several times, I think , and at my parents church in Colorado, and both times she broke the formula that so often turns me off of religious assemblies Years ago, my parents sent me a copy of Scouting the Divine, a book which features wine and walking and sheep, all of which I am fond of When I heard Feinberg was coming out with another book a fact which was hard to miss, since my Twitter, Pinterest, and other feeds were completely swamped with promotional articles, reviews, quotes, mentions, and so on , I felt compelled to pick up a copy I was even interested after a gchat conversation with a friend of mine abroad, a friend who happens to struggle with cultural Christianity as much or than I do When I mentioned the book, she wrote back with a quote from a book blurb Wonderstruck is a personal invitation for you to toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life, citing such upbeat language as a guaranteed turn off I was, and remain, curious as to why it is so unusual perhaps even unacceptable to be honest about suffering in the Church I m talking about style and voice as much as content I have now read Wonderstruck.
I even bought a copy, because I have developed a bad habit of writing in the margins of books And yes, I can confirm that Feinberg falls into many of the same ruts though I wince at the word that I find a lot of inspirational speakers do, and many if not most Christian nonfiction writers do This book describes a moment of Feinberg s life that was unmitigatedly painful So far, so good But it ends with a thirty day challenge and each challenge is spelled out for the reader on how to re ignite one s ability to experience wonder and joy in life You can imagine that this is exactly the sort of thing that some people want out of their books Aha At last A foolproof way to be happy And I applaud those people on finding their perfect match, or what seems like a perfect match, until reality hits home Darnit Life doesn t fit into a formula I can t be happy all the time, and that s okay Here is the real sad fact, as far as I m concerned Wonderstruck is a how to book with memoiristic overtones It is not literary nonfiction I recognize and honor the painful nature of the events Feinberg shares in Wonderstruck I do not in any way wish to discount the validity of her suffering In many ways, this book is the flipside of a coin or another facet of the prism that has inspired books like Terry Tempest Williams Refuge The products are completely different, and it just so happens I m drawn towards the reflective and less towards the didactic Which book would I pick to give to a friend facing cancer If I didn t feel like the offering would be offensive i.
e You obviously need help This book will help fix you and if I could offer it in the right spirit i.
e I speak book, and I love you , I would pick Refuge every time This book marks a departure from Feinberg s earlier Scouting the Divine, a book which now I feel I ought to revisit in order to remember the qualities which I first enjoyed about her writing I do not dislike Wonderstruck, and perhaps one day I ll find that having a formula to fall back on will be helpful, but for now I m still hunting for that something else that rare voice that is unafraid and unapologetic about all facets of life, that old soul who avoids the saccharine siren call of the artificially upbeat, that Christian underground that loves God and suffers, all at the same time, and produces beautiful and lyrical literary nonfiction in the process.
NOTES This is not to say that other American Christians aren t writing nonfiction, or that memoir isn t nonfiction, or even that American Christians who are writing literary nonfiction and aren t household names aren t successful, in some way or shape or form My conception of literary nonfiction does not exclude memoir from the pantheon of great writing, but is simply one way of describing the nature and content of some books I tend to like My conception of success in writing does, however, necessitate that the average book browser will find the book in question outside of a Christian bookstore Hate on me all you like, but I firmly believe that Christian bookstores, even so than non religiously affiliated bookstores, have created a self policing atmosphere that represses original thinking and promotes formulaic or insubstantial writing I remember being told multiple times in college by close friends that my faith was in question This was news to me, given that of all the things I ve lost or failed at in my life, my assurance of God s sovereignty has never been one of them I have discovered that it is acceptable within the world of American cultural Christianity to be confessional to pour out one s deepest and darkest struggles but only if framed as either Part One of a beautiful recovery story, or if framed as I need help right now There is little room but perhaps a growing niche for the Christian writer to reflect on so called dark subject matter outside of this formula.
Too many of us play and pray it safe We allow our aspirations to stay in our heads, our goals to remain barely outside our grasp Life becomes a series of unrealized hopes and dreams Rather than engage in the fullness of life, we remain on the sidelines and pass up on uncounted opportunities Our fears become greater than the hope of the One who came to bring us abundant Life This sums up the book perfectly Five stars A new look at Christian joy from an unique Jewish viewpoint.
I love the word Wonderstruck, and I love the idea of living Wonderstruck to the workings of God In fact I made it my word for the year This book was nice and it had some nice ideas and suggestions to it In fact, that is the word that describes how it was for me Nice I always appreciate someone who is willing to open their life to me, especially in writing But nothing rang the bell of awakening in me or left me wonderstruck.
Love Margaret s heart for God Identified with the notion that we, as Christians, are often slumbering in the presence of the Divine In other words, lazy It was an easy read and fun to learn about Margaret, after she had recently spoken at our church s women s conference Loved the story about her grandfather a Bible believing man who led people to Christ over gaming tables in Vegas
5 stars God shows himself in myriad ways beauty, serendipity, shock awe, conversation even in the contrast between His own holiness and our tendency toward sin But are we awake Do we notice Should we Through plumbing the depths of experiences from her own life, Margaret Feinberg invites us to reflect on mis shapenness in our own lives Are we harboring bitterness, too How is our prayer life, really In a day when many Christian writers care mainly for their ideas, Margaret obviously cares for her craft, which I find incredibly refreshing I especially loved the way book elicited an easy flowing attitude of prayer and reflection, like freely wandering the garden with God rather than feeling like a note taking student The very first evening I found myself differently responding to my own memories and observations, captured by the wonder that would normally pass me by.
I especially love the way Margaret sets life contemplations on a firm respect for who God has revealed himself to be in the Scriptures and in creation She experiences life just as we her readers do, shares deeply from her humanity, and shepherds us toward the Father as she struggles to hold tight to Him herself Martin Luther once said that We are all mere beggars showing other beggars where to find bread For me, Margaret s writing exemplifies the spirit of humility and the spirit of showing inherent in this quote.
More specifics about the book itselfWhile I both enjoyed and was moved by Wonderstruck, I might have had my expectations a little out of place regarding how awed I would feel in the reading of it Other than the initial chapters, rather than leaving me feeling awed, it left me ready to be awed Which is truly fantastic, but not what I was expecting I think reading the book slowly and with a group might have changed this experience a little.
That being said, there is a special section provided expressly for this purpose The first chapter of the Bonus Tracks , Thirty Days of Wonder A Challenge to Experience God More gives small, do able exercises that provide us a way to act toward the thing we wish to be awake to God s wonder.
If you enjoy reflective writing and going along on the author s journey, this book is for you The language is lovely and you ll find yourself gasping and laughing aloud I suspect this book would be best read with others who sincerely want of God s wonder in their lives Discussion and practicing would be most accessible in that context.
If, on the other hand, you prefer theological treatise to the contemplative style, this may not be the book for you A thoroughly enjoyable read I will soon re read with a group 4.
Who doesn t need to be alive to the nearness of God This book spoke to me on many levels The chapter on prayer was especially meaningful and I am going to try her three word prayers this Lenten season I am hoping to get some members of my Bible study to join me in this form of giving up prayer for Lent.