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sin boldly

Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace, by Cathleen Falsani


let me shoot straight: this is one of the best books i have read this year.

falsani has writtten an absolutely stunning book about grace. i could not recommend this book more highly.

sin boldly is a gorgeous, wandering, adventure in looking for (and finding) grace. it’s not a theological treatise (though it has real-world theological implications dripping off every page). instead, falsani uses questions, searching, stories, and reflections to dig around and unearth a three-dimensional grace. there’s an almost “amazing race” vibe to the book, as she takes readers on a ’round-the-world grace-seeking adventure. but it’s not a heart-pounding amazing race — it’s an amazing grace race with space and slow and quiet and small noticing. it’s a spiritual quest, delivered with humility, frailty, imperfection, stumbling, insight, a-ha moments, and a cast of characters all-the-better in that they’re real.

i’ll be honest about this: i was regularly surprised, as i read, that my parent company, zondervan, published this book. and, as much as i love my parent company, i don’t really mean that as a compliment (except in the fact that i’m both astounded and pleasantly shocked that this brilliant and rough manuscript made it through the editorial process in a major christian publishing house). falsani is not your everyday christian bookstore writer. put it this way: the book is more anne lammot than it is beth moore.

i’ll be adding “sin boldly” to my list of most-often recommended books, along with my other “friends”, like:
messy spirituality and dangerous wonder, by mike yaconelli
traveling mercies and grace (eventually), by anne lammot
take this bread, by sara miles
the life you’ve always wanted, by john ortberg
and a few books by parker palmer and frederich buechner

this book moved me deeply, and gave me hope. i didn’t want it to end.

monday morning update, october 6, 2008

the weekend that was: jeannie was up in pasadena visiting a friend for the weekend, so it was officially “daddy weekend.” that means – in the oestreicher family lexicon – a weekend of normally unapproved debauchery. extra quantities of screens (tv, movies, games, computer), horrible food choices, and stuff like that. so: liesl had lots on, so it was basically me and max. we got mario kart for wii, and played that a lot; we walked up to our town’s oktoberfest (“the largest 3-day oktoberfest west of the mississippi!”) both evenings for dinner; max made chicken nuggets for breakfast saturday, and we went to baskin robbins for lunch (yes, ice cream for lunch). along the way, i watched two sad football games where the only two teams i care about (university of michigan and the san diego chargers) lost, because they played so horribly. and i got a 60-minute massage saturday afternoon (jeannie gave me a 6-pack of one-hour certificates for xmas last year, and i cashed one in this weekend — the masseuse came to our house, and set up in the back house). sunday afternoon was honey-do list stuff, then home church in the evening. then, late last night, i took off on a 40 hour silent retreat.

where i am at the moment: i’m in non-blogging land, actually. this post was set to go live monday morning, because i’m not actually here to post it. i have known, for a few weeks, that i’m living on the edge, physically, emotionally, spiritually. and i started to realize that going into the sacramento nywc in this condition would be a really, really bad choice, and potentially harmful. i was worried about being so over-the-edge that i would either burn out, or — in my weariness — fall back to my default arrogant prick self. about a week ago i looked at my calendar for today, and realized it was totally empty. that’s when i decided to wedge in a short silent retreat. i considered a place i’ve gone in the desert, and a place i’ve gone near the coast, and landed on the coastal place. so, last night i drove up, and started a 40-ish hour time of silence, prayer, reading, thinking, and sleep. i’ll drive back down tuesday late morning, and just go to work. i’m hoping this time will recalibrate, rejuvenate, detoxify, and refresh me.

on my to-do list this week: uh, there’s this little thing called the national youth workers convention. we have three of ’em. the first one, in sacramento, is this week. starts friday (with additional programs beginning thursday). i’m flying up wednesday afternoon, and coming home monday afternoon. jeannie and the kids are coming up friday evening through monday afternoon. to complicate things a bit more, we have a brand new spanish youth workers convention this weekend also! we’ve been doing our convencion internacional lideres jovenes in argentina and guatemala for a number of years. but this year we added a third spanish event, in dallas. it was unfortunate that they ended up on the same weekend. saturday morning, i leave sacramento and fly to dallas. i’ll do a general session there saturday afternoon, and spend the evening there. sunday morning, i fly back to the sacramento nywc. whew!

procrastinating about: at the moment, i’m still procrastinating about my general session talk for the convention.

book i’m in the midst of: finished my lobotomy this weekend (will post about that soon), and am still in the middle of the almost moon. also plan on reading mark riddle’s new book (which comes out in january, or something like that), called inside the mind of youth pastors, today; and i brought along cathleen falsani’s sin boldly, and hope to get to it also.

music that seemed to catch my attention this past week: not normally a big hip-hop listener, two alt-hop (is that a term, or did i just make it up?) have caught my attention in the last couple weeks:
my friend bob sent me an itunes gift of “dear science” by the band, “tv on the radio.” really creative and complex stuff — unpredictable.
then i’ve also had the MIA album, Kala, on heavy rotation. the song “paper airplanes” has been on constant play on san diego alt rock stations, but the album is really, primarily a mash-up of alt/modern rock and hip-hop. very, very cool stuff.

next trip: i’m in north county san diego for a couple nights as i post this; but my next real trip is wednesday, for the national youth workers convention in sacramento.

how i’m feeling about this week: excited, stressed, hopeful, energized, weary, anticipatory, nervous, and probably 60 other emotions.