A BOOK REVIEW
For our second semester, I taught my high school Religion class a series of lessons called “Kings and Clowns.” There was no lack for absurd and crazy stories from the Old Testament. After learning about King Saul and David initially getting along quite well, we learned about David’s military victories. Saul became jealous of David’s popularity and he devised a plan to get rid of him for good or so he thought. Saul offered his daughter to David for 100 Philistine foreskins in return. He expected David to die in his attempt but David returned instead with 200 foreskins. Uhm . . . yes, and you can find many more Bible stories that leave you scratching your head and wondering “what in the world” did I just read?
This is what drew me to read John Alan Turner’s book “Crazy Stories Sane God: Lessons from the Most Unexpected Places in the Bible.” He explores many of the less familiar and bizarre stories found in the Bible and he challenges us to ask: “Why are they in the Bible?” and “What do they tell us about God and ourselves?”
I think the hardest challenge in writing a book like this would have to be trying to retell the Bible story without losing your audience’s attention. I did find myself wanting to skip straight to the “lesson to be learned” at times, but I’m also more of a “get-to-the-point” kind of guy. That’s what I also liked about John’s writings though. He tells it like he sees it. He gets to the point. He is real and vulnerable. His straightforwardness is what made me want to keep reading. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes that made me feel like I was not alone on this “insane” spiritual adventure: “God is, without a doubt, the most frustrating Being I have ever met in my life.” “I wish I could skip ahead and know how everything’s going to turn out for me.”
“Sometimes God calls us to do things that don’t make sense.” The author makes it clear that following God takes big risks and that we ought to own our own story no matter how messy it might be or how crazy it may look to others. I loved it when he quoted Bonhoeffer: “When God calls a man, he bids him come and die.”
Although I’m not sure I agree 100% with every story interpretation, I do not have a problem with the book and laud the predominate theme that there is nothing God cannot redeem and no one God will not restore! I received a free review copy of this book from B&H Publishing Group for my honest opinion.