Yes, Virginia, there is a God.
With reluctance, I signed on to read and review, Rhoda Janzen’s newest release, Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?: A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right, and Solves Her Lady Problems. My wife, Rochelle, had read Janzen’s previous release, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home, and loved it. I just knew I would hate it. But since I resolved a few months ago to deliberately read more women authors, I felt God pecking on my shoulder when I was asked to read and review this one.
I hate to admit, even as an egalitarian with a gifted, strong-willed, and brilliant wife, and as the father of two incredibly gifted daughters, I’ve frequently found women authors to be overly-flowery, sentimental, and well, slow to get to the point. I own this as mental debris of the “complementarianism” with which I was raised. Yet experience and, dare I say, a swallowing of my pride, forced me to realize that women are just better writers than men.
Rhoda Janzen could serve as exhibit A.
I won’t beat around the bush, Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?, is one of the most well-written books I have read. With sharp wit, a fearless pen, and a heart blossoming into openness to God, Janzen tells the winsome story of her return to faith. Raised as a Mennonite (an Anabaptist faith), Janzen rejects religion, church, and God and becomes a scholar. This, as many of us have experienced first-hand, is all-too-often a recipe for walking away from faith – or at least developing a faith that our fundamentalists friends find suspect and questionable. Yet Janzen finds herself returning to God after the devastation of a divorce and years away from any church. Her return coincides with life-altering health news while falling in love again.
Janzen’s story is beautiful and believable because it sails with the wind. Her return to church does not come swiftly, directly, or without difficulty. In a world that questions Christianity with a harsh and microscopic scrutiny reserved for no other faith or non-faith, Janzen returns to faith in the absence of having all of her questions answered. She doesn’t hunt around until she finds a community of faith that already thinks what she thinks and interprets the scriptures they way she does. She finds peace in a long fight for surrender.
At the same time, Janzen doesn’t prescribe these departures from academic scrutiny of God, of the Bible, and of the church as faith destinations for all people handed down for all eternity. Her faith discoveries were instructive for her during a particular season of life. As you read you will get the sense that Rhoda is not through asking her questions nor pursuing her faith.
As you read her story, you will hear Janzen’s voice and feel as if you are listening to a new friend unpack her story. I found myself laughing, crying, and turning down the volume of Monday Night Football as I soaked up her words. To make up for this lack of Driscoll in my system, I’d finish a chapter then watch 30-minutes of Die Hard.
If the e-mail I receive is accurate, nearly 35% of this blogs readership are people who have lost their faith or left the faith. We are largely a people searching, asking questions, and hoping God will honor our search. Many of you want there to be a God even if you don’t think there is. If you fit that category, I urge you to order this book today. It’s not that I want to force you to confess something about God and faith before you’re ready to confess.
I just want you to know you’re not alone.
There are, and always have been, people who have struggled where you struggle and hurt where you hurt. Somehow God has lead those people back to Him/Herself. And I think God wants to do the same for you.
I love these words from the book:
“For me the takeaway is that we don’t need to be strong and faithful and firm in order to approach God. We can be an unholy mess,…or a frustrated skeptic….What a relief it is that we don’t have to be good at religion in order to seek God! We don’t even have to have a strong sense of belief. All we need is the desire to believe.” (pg. 133)
I’m giving away 3 copies of Rhoda Janzen’s, Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?: A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right, and Solves Her Lady Problems, and YOU can win one.
You need to do ONE of the following FOUR in order to be entered to win!
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Disclosure of Material Connection (1): Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Disclosure of Material Connection(2): I received the work reviewed above for free from the publisher in the hope that I would review it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”