Thinking Out Loud

September 14, 2009

The Shack Publisher Releases Third Fiction Title

Divorce Lawyer

You come home from work and your spouse says something — something possibly containing a minuscule, trace amount of irritation — and you react to it.   Then he/she reacts to your reaction.   Then it gets loud.   Then it crosses the line to where you’re saying things you instinctively know as you are saying them that you are going to have to apologize later. Or worse.

I sometimes have anger issues.   I admit that.  I think a lot of people do, and I think that we live in times that leave us vulnerable to stress factors that manifest themselves in different ways in different people.   Fortunately for me — and my wife — it’s nothing like Steven Kerner, however.   He’s the lead character in the book Bo’s Café, and he is given to what may only be described as serial rage.   Every discussion with his wife escalates into something it shouldn’t.   He can’t help but keep messing up, and then there’s no turning back.

Bo's CaféBo’s Café is the third fiction work from Windblown Media, publishers of The Shack and only the fourth book the upstart company has released.   (A second non-fiction book is due out in November.)   This time around there are three authors, Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, John Lynch, and the setting is an area quite familiar to me, the environs of Los Angeles, California.

And yes, there is a Bo and there is a café but there’s also a bar and Steven’s life is greatly impacted by a guy who smokes, so the Shack-bashers who are now predisposed to despise anything from Windblown will have something to work with.  (see: Sarcasm)  The theme this time around however is marriage, family and our need as humans — including Christians — to come to terms with who we are and build in controls against the knee-jerk reactions we have when someone — especially a spouse — pushes our buttons.

Therefore, don’t look for a fictional treatment on the nature of God this time around.  Bo’s is so much about marriage, I suspect it will land on a lot of bookstore shelves next to Fireproof. In a way, the two form a perfect set.

Like Shack, this title uses what might be termed Socratic dialog (Br.: dialogue) named after the didactic writing in The Republic of Plato. Conversation that teaches.    Words that cut to the heart of issues; our issues.   There was one part, early on in reading, that I wondered if they had pushed that agenda too much to the forefront; if the book was too preachy.   But the moment passed, and I settled in to find out what was in store both for the quirkly characters and for Steven, who I truly believe represents you and I.

The book has another similarity to Shack inasmuch as I think it will attract more male readers than one normally expects with Christian fiction.   Steve is helped greatly by Andy, a guy who just turns up in his life, which will also remind readers of Dinner With A Perfect Stranger by David Gregory, The Noticer by Andy Andrews, and Windblown’s other fiction title, So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore by Jake Colsen (the pseudonym of Wayne Jacobsen and Dave Coleman).   Those books all scored high with male readers as well.

The book has several messages, and I’m sure other reviewers will have a different take on this; but my personal revelation in reading was that personal change takes place over time, not overnight.   Like Shack, this book is expected to score some sales in the general market, as well as the Christian market, and very appropriately Steven Kerner’s faith and belief in God is like a soundtrack running softly in the background, not something that’s in your face awkwardly on occasions the writers feel the need to ‘say something religious.’

This is a book that will save lives.   Marriages in particular.   This is a book that couples should read.   (We both finished within days of each other.)   Days later, I found myself on a website where the blogger was lamenting the lack of someone to talk with.   The book inspired me to suggest that a listening ear is not too far away.  You just have to be looking, to be open, or even to ask, “Do you know someone who is known to be a really good listener?”

This book shows the power of a good listening ear. We all need someone like that.

Comments:  This book review has been tagged ‘The Shack,’ but it’s not the forum for Shack-bashing and such comments will be deleted.   On the other hand if there’s something in this post you want to discuss, feel free.

September 6, 2009

Currently Reading: Bo’s Café

Filed under: books, marriage — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 6:41 pm

Bo's CaféAs the TV announcer might say, “NEW! From the people who brought you The Shack…”   Well, it’s from the same publisher at least.  That factor alone may be significant in the success of this book.    I’m currently a hundred pages in; similarities between this and the aforementioned Wm. Paul Young novel are many — I’ll do a full review when I’ve completely finished — and once again, I think we’re looking at a piece of Christian fiction that men, as well as women, will read.    I’ll save further remarks for the full review, but make sure this book is on your radar this month.

Bo’s Cafe – A Novel by Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol, John Lynch (Windblown Media)

August 21, 2009

Scene and Herd: Life Around the Blogosphere

linksHere are some random things that caught my attention this week.   If you have a must-see post you want to contribute, feel free to add a comment with the appropriate link.

  • The visual blog Churchy Design has moved to its new home at Tumblr.   It’s not entirely about church architecture, but more related to just about anything concerned with  “…how designers within the big-C Church are using their aesthetic sensibilities to communicate, illustrate, critique, expose, and explore matters of their faith.”

  • Want to settle all that worship music tension at the place you call church?  Brad Harper and Paul Louis Metzger suggest six guiding principles in a Christianity Today article, Here We Are To Worship“The best array of worship forms will illustrate that the church is both embedded in culture, speaking through its constantly changing forms, and also a countercultural community, one that represents transcendent values and truths that confront culture’s fallenness.”
  • In one of his best posts ever, earlier this week Jon Acuff  at Stuff Christians Like looked at the Evangelical cultural oddity we know as The Husband and Wife Ministry Team.   “My wife isn’t a big bun fan, but from what I can remember, the two hairstyle options for the wife in the Husband & Wife Ministry Team are either buns or a beehive with the thickness and girth of a car radiator.”
  • It’s been two years now since the Interstate 35 bridge collapse in Minnesota, but a  post of John Piper explaining it to his daughter is still hanging in the air, especially the air around blogger Bill Kinnon.   Piper: ”  God did not do anything wrong. God always does what is wise. And you and I know that God could have held up that bridge with one hand…with his pinky. Which means that God had a purpose for not holding up that bridge, knowing all that would happen, and he is infinitely wise in all that he wills.” What role does God play when things like that happen.   Darryl Dash keeps the discussion going this week at
  • From our totally-outside-the-box department, comes a link to, of all things, The New Humanist blog with their predictable poke at all major religions in the form of a card game called God Trumps.   You’ll want to click on the individual cards to read them in detail.   You’ll find set one here and set two hereThe weapon of choice for JWs is listed as “foot in door”, while for Anglicans it’s “tutting loudly”. For the Catholics – “the Pope mobile”, Born Again Christians have “televangelists” and “threats of hell fire” …. gulp – did someone say hell fire? [HT: Mark Randall at Pragmatic-Eclectic from whence the quotation comes.]
  • Bo's CaféKeep your eyes posted on Windblown Media — the people who brought us The Shack — for a new novel, Bo’s Café, authored by Bruce McNicol, Bill Thrall and John Lynch.   Advance publicity describes it as “… a model for all who struggle with unresolved problems and a performance-based life. Those who desire a fuller, more authentic way of living will find this journey of healing a restorative exploration of God’s unbridled grace.” Street date: September 1st.
  • Finally, if you can handle another John Piper disaster-related story, it seems the the ECLA, a Lutheran denomination, is joining many Anglicans  in a softened stance towards homosexuality.   But as they met in Minneapolis, a tornado roared through.   Piper — and he was probably not alone — suggested that God may be trying to tell them something.  He blogged, “the tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin.” But another pastor in the same town, Greg Boyd, just doesn’t see God working that way. “I have an alternative interpretation of tornado behavior to offer. They have nothing to do with how pro-gay or how sinful people are and everything to do with where people happen to live.” and “…there are over 400 distinct passages encompassing over 3,000 verses in the Bible that address issues related to poverty…  In light of this, wouldn’t you assume that if God was going to send warnings and/or inflict punishment with tornados he’d strike some of the many American churches and denominations that condone, if not Christianize, greed and apathy toward the poor?”

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