My first review for Bookcrash is "No Small Change" by Charles E. Johns. Mr. Johns is a minister and author of "Faith Matters", a monthly annual conference column.
We often act as if God hides so well that signs of the divine presence are reserved for Hallejujah moments. Here are tales of people, places, and things that can either pass unnoticed or can become elemental moments to change the way we experience God. Each of the stories illustrates a way in which the ordinary can open the door to an engagement with the divine. No Small Change is an invitation to pay attention to the grace that envelops us, God's persistent presence which longs to be embraced. (taken from back of book)
Dawn's Recommendation: 2.5 of 5 Stars
What I liked:
I really enjoyed the stories that shared concrete, specific examples and reflections from the author's life like in FLYING LESSON (about who you put your trust in). There is truth and wisdom in the author's words and he takes the time to meditate on ordinary happenings in his life. I liked the humor that is sprinkled in (like in UNNATURAL ACTS), the sweet memories of friends who have passed (like in JIMMY), and the author's vulnerability (like in UNWILLING). With each story, you get to know a little more about the author. Some of the author's reflections evoke rich images from his life like in TRUE COMPASS where he gets a compass for a gift and it is compared to the one true guide for his life. Some of the stories reminded me of devotionals.
What I didn't like:
I didn't like the layout of the book. It was laid out in the following categories: Advent/Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and Ordinary Time.
--There were a few stories that felt like they tried too hard to tie into the their category.
--The book opens with Advent/Christmas. I prefer to read Christmas stories at Christmas time, so that was an immediate turn off. Also, this section confused me. I couldn't get the stories' points as they related to glimpses of God...or perhaps it was just my frame of mind at not wanting to read Christmas when it was 70 degrees outside.
Some of the stories were more general thoughts on a topic and that came across as preachy and vague to me. I much rather enjoyed the stories that gave concrete, specific examples from the author's life.
Also, the back cover blurb is a little misleading.
--Based on the back cover blurb's last sentence, I thought the book would show me how I could better pay attention to God's grace. The author shares his reflections, but it doesn't tell readers how to do this for themselves.
--The blurb says, "Here are tales of people, places, and things" - I took this to mean stories from and about different people, but the stories are all from the author.
Even though there were some things I didn't like about the book, I still enjoyed many of the stories. There are some sweet gems in this book and I'm glad I stuck to it to find them (one of my favorites was GROWING MEDIUM)!
Once I began to see the stories as "devotionals", I was able to enjoy them and understood the book's purpose -- to share the author's glimpses of God through his experiences and reflections. I think the book's format would have worked so much better marketed as a book of devotionals!
Disclosure - The publisher provided me with a complimentary copy of the book
through BookCrash in exchange for a review of the book.