Tag Archives: Christianity

Review: Theology in Aisle Seven, by Carolyn Arends

Theology in Aisle Seven by Carolyn ArendsTheology in Aisle Seven, by Carolyn Arends (Christianity Today, 2012)

One of the things I most appreciate about Carolyn Arends’ writing is her honesty. If she’s exploring a question or a doubt, she does it with transparency. If she’s sharing a life lesson learned, she invites us into the story to experience the lesson too. If she’s praising God, it’s authentic. And it’s all beautifully written. Songwriters and poets, more than most, develop the art of evocative words.

Theology in Aisle Seven is a collection of 25 of Carolyn Arends’ monthly columns in Christianity Today. I had read some of them online before buying the book, and they’re just as good on a second reading as they were on the first. I’ll be reading it again, one brief article at a time, so I’ll have time to better digest it. As the introduction says, it would make a good daily devotional book.

Mark Galli, senior managing editor of Christianity Today, describes the book as “an overview of the Christian life in 25 snapshots.” [Kindle Location 90]

The book’s subtitle is “The Uncommon Grace of Everyday Spirituality.” It’s an easy read in a conversational style, but there’s a lot to chew on. Chapters range from deep spiritual topics like the love and wrath of God, being peacemakers, and mortality to more earthy things like laughter, fitness, neighbours and grief.

And the title? You’ll have to read the particular chapter that birthed it, but I can tell you it relates to how we try to organize and compartmentalize our faith to be neat and tidy.

Here are a few of my favourite lines, to pique your interest:

If the psalmist is right—that there truly is nowhere we can go to flee God’s presence—why do we act like his attendance is intermittent? And why do we assume it’s dependent on us? [Kindle Location 153]

At the end (and only at the end) of the human rope is strength and peace beyond compare. [Kindle Location 214]

Humility not only helps us in the offering of our prayers. It is also essential to recognizing their answers. [Kindle Location 840]

Canadian author Carolyn Arends is perhaps best known as an award-winning singer/songwriter. Her most recent album is Love Was Here First. She’s the author of Wrestling With Angels (another book I highly recommend) as well as a variety of online and print articles. I hope Theology in Aisle Seven will become the first in a series of her collected short works.

For more about Theology in Aisle Seven, click the link in the title to visit the author’s website. You’ll find a list of chapters, a brief description, and links to order. The book is only available in ebook format, but where the chapters are short, if you don’t have an e-reader or tablet you could easily read them on your computer with the free Kindle or Adobe Digital Editions (for everything other than Kindle format) downloads.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Instead of Asking God “Why?”

question markOne of the first things we do when tragedy hits or when things go wrong is to ask God “Why?”

God welcomes honest questions, “why?” included, although I’m sure He’d prefer a trusting, hurt-filled tone than an angry, demanding one. Either way, I believe He’d rather have us talking to Him than trying to freeze Him out. After all, dialogue goes two ways and we might hear His response.

My community is still processing a recent teen suicide. And internationally, North Americans are shocked by the Boston Marathon bombings.

“Why?” is a valid question, and it predates Job. But there are healthier questions to ask as well:
  • Who

    • are You, God?
    • do You say I am?
    • have You put in my day to encourage or bless?
  • What

    • are You saying to me?
    • do You want to show me?
    • do You want to do in or through me?
  • Where

    • can I join You in what You’re doing?
    • are You leading me?
    • are You revealing Yourself?
  • When

    • You come back, will I be found ready?
    • You speak, help me hear and obey.
    • You want me to wait in quiet, help me be patient.
  • How

    • can I best show love to those around me?
    • can I get to know You better?
    • can I best use the time in each day?

Turns out, “When?” is pretty contentious too. In general, we’re better to bring God those things we don’t understand and our impatience for things delayed, to leave them with Him in trust, and to ask questions that leave us open to God’s direction.

If you’re struggling with this, please click over and read Ann Voskamp’s beautiful post, 3 Things to Hold Onto in a World Falling Apart (aholyexperience.com)