Monday, April 18, 2016

The Myth of the Non-Christian: Engaging Atheists, Nominal Christiansand the Spiritual But Not Religious

Even as a Christian, I've been at the receiving end of some unwanted evangelism. Once at the exit of a train station, I was accosted by some random stranger asking to do a survey which led to an invitation to a church that I naturally rejected in a roundabout manner. Then, it was a tract presented together with a farewell gift from a classmate I barely knew at a course I took. You might be a well-meaning Christian who's driven to spread the gospel in all Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth but can come across as an offensive weirdo by doing so. This book helps one do so in a natural, non-threatening and winsome way. 

This book has completely changed the way I reach out to people and I would encourage all Christians, especially church leaders, to take a look at this gem. The book aims to make sharing about Jesus relevant in a modern day setting with a targeted approach. 

As mentioned in the title, this book seeks to dispel the myth of the non-Christian which is a term those in the fold have come up with to label those not of the faith. However, that's not how people label themselves. They could identify as an atheist, a nominal Christian or a person who is spiritual but not religious. And it is specifically for these three different groups of people that form the majority of people not following Jesus today. 

The book is arranged in three different sections (one for each group). The first section helps one understand the specific context we are engaging with through the use of real-life stories and situations that have previously taken place. Next, the author teaches how to respond to the major questions in that particular context. And finally, we learn how to develop practices specifically helpful to this context. 

I liked how the book addressed pertinent questions that people might have on violence found in the Bible. Luke Cawley draws on his experience of engaging a student who was spiritual but was very turned off by the fact that the Old Testament was rife with bloodshed and misogyny. It was very interesting to read about his exchange with her. 

One's approach would also be different when one meets an atheist who might have concerns about how science and God seem to be mutually exclusive. I thought that the author's suggestion of  framing this as a conversation very helpful. Instead of sharing about your personal testimony of your conversation story that they might not appreciate, you could have an intellectual discussion about God and the world. I certainly know people who'd enjoy that. In addition, you get to deepen relationships by asking the tough questions in life. He provides a substantial chapter on how to tackle the most popular questions and another chapter on how to share your faith effectively. 

Finally, there might be people you know as Christians but who do not go to church. There might be a whole plethora of reasons for that and Cawley brings us through some of them and how they could be addressed with sensitivity. 

I liked the fact that the author provides a recommended reading list on a whole host of topics such as apologetics, atheist texts, science and God and many many more. I'm gonna buy a couple of the suggested book titles myself. So look out for more reviews on those in the coming days!

If I have one complaint about the book, I'd say that it's not enough writing about atheists, nominal Christians and the spiritual but not religious. Not everyone fits into these categories. However that would probably make for a much thicker book that might turn potential readers off. 

Well that's all for now and you can get this book from Amazon or Book Depsository today!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Rollercoasters & Bedsheets: An Anthology of Sex in Minutes edited by Charlene Shepherdson and Muslim Sahib

This is my first time reading poetry of such a genre so this was quite an interesting experience.

In the preface, the editors behind this anthology explained that they wanted to use poetry "as a means to explore sex and erotica" as they felt that "sex in the media is often portrayed as a deed done quick and dirty, and the real-life issues around communication, power play and consent are often unaddressed".

The collection of poems was of somewhat uneven quality, but reading it made for a generally pleasant and sometimes surprising encounter. 

Jerrold Yam, as usual, does not disappoint and "Doorbell" was really good.

I really, really, really liked "daddy issues" by Marylyn Tan which was using BDSM to express one's feelings about the authoritarian state that is Singapore. I thought that that was very clever.

The experimental pieces were quite interesting and many poems played with space and enjambment. I thought some were pretty good but some were a little strange.

This is neither an anthology of erotic nor sensual poetry, and neither did the editors didn't claim that it was. But the title certainly suggested so and I was a little disappointed.

However, this is indeed "an anthology of sex in minutes" as professed in the title and I would say that the editors have certainly achieved, through this book, their aim of promoting conversation about the often taboo topic of sex. At least it did for me among my friends when I showed them what I was reading (They usually smiled to themselves upon seeing the title and then flipped curiously through. No other book I've showed them have achieve this effect.)

I'm sure this will definitely be an interesting book to add to your collection and you should probably get it for yourself if only to "possess the vocabulary" to articulate your feelings on "the realm of sex which is rollercoaster of passion, emotions, and lust" as mentioned at the beginning of this book.

Check out this book at the bookshop, Books Actually, at the district that is Tiong Bahru, or order it online from Pillow Books Media or at Amazon for my American and international readers.


Disclaimer: The editor sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.