Finding God in the Waves: A Book Review

I hated listening to people talk on the radio or recordings for a very long time.
I blame my Mother’s love of listening to talk radio when I was a child.
(Can’t we just listen to music please???)

My husband, Ben, on the other hand, puts on a podcast whenever he’s doing any sort of menial task. Dishes, folding laundry, driving home from work, waiting for the microwave popcorn to pop.

About a year ago he finally convinced me that podcasts were a great way to learn things or be entertained, that they really weren’t all about sports or economics and that I could definitely find some that focused on theology or art or storytelling.

It didn’t take very long before I had a steady rotation of 6-10 podcasts I would listen to each morning while running.

One of the podcasts that quickly made its way into my rotation was The Liturgists. 

I had followed Michael Gungor’s work as a musician for years, but the other co-host – Science Mike – was new to me.

Like Science Mike, I also grew up in the south and the lions share of my church experience had been spent in the Southern Baptist Convention. I too had undergone a sizable shift in my faith in recent years.

Unlike Science Mike I have never considered myself an atheist and I can’t talk about quantum physics in casual conversation.

I was intrigued by the way science seemed to make Mike’s faith richer and more nuanced, and soon his other podcast Ask Science Mike was in steady rotation during my morning runs as well.

I’ve always enjoyed science, even though it didn’t fit with my conservative, evangelical upbringing. I never bothered to try to reconcile faith and science though. For a long time, I just accepted that science made fact claims that contradicted what the Bible said, and I was okay living with the knowledge of the mystery and tension. It was the elephant in the room of my consciousness, but I just moved a big armoire in front of the tension and called it a day.  Science Mike helped me unpack some of those unreconciled pieces of faith and science and  bring a whole new level of richness to my faith.

I’d believed in a Creator God for most of my life, but learning to see the science of life not as a contradiction but the means in which God was at work took my vision of Creator from one who colored-by-number to one more along the lines of Picasso.

“The heavens declare the glory of God”
….and the neuroscience proclaims God’s handiwork.

So when Mike announced he was writing a book, I knew it would be at the top of my never-ending list.  As expected, Finding God in the Waves combines vivid, compelling narrative with deep-dives into scientific facts in a way only Science Mike could combine them.

It’s irresistibly fresh and comfortingly familiar, kind of like when salted caramel burst on to the flavor scene. Your pallet for ways we talk about the spiritual will never be the same again.

For those unfamiliar with Mike and his podcast, the first half of the book is memoir. Mike recounts his story of growing up in the church, coming to faith, and then of losing his faith in God and becoming an “undercover atheist” while still attending (and teaching Sunday School) at his Southern Baptist church.

In the second half of the book, Mike dives deep and unpacks the science behind what he calls his “Axioms About Christian Faith.”

Science Mike borrow the term “axiom” from philosophy. In brief, his axioms are “ideas that can be accepted without further inquiry” about the Christian faith. He has axioms for major tenants of the Christian such as  God, prayer, Jesus, sin, the Church, and the Bible – among others.

During the last five chapters of the book, Science Mike walks the reader through the question and the science behind the formation of each of these axioms.  The result is a whirlwind trip through the basics of cosmology, neuroscience, and anthropology with splashes of fine art tossed in for good measure.

Mike describes his axioms as “woefully short” of Christian orthodoxy, but he’s okay with that. Instead of seeking to home in on or prove orthodoxy, he says his axioms are “a life raft for people who can’t get on board with the supernatural claims about God yet still want to be close to God.”

I’ve never been quite in need of a life raft personally, but there have been significant seasons in which I’ve felt as though my boat were dead in the water. Science Mike’s axioms are more like fresh wind in my sails, pushing the bounds on the ways I think about, talk about and view God.

___

If you grew up with a faith in God that now seems too small or out of touch with the world you find yourself in now – this book is for you.

If you believed in God at one point, but have long since stopped believing – this book is for you.

If you’ve never believed, but you’re curious about why someone would believe in God – this book is for you.

…Or if you’d just like to know the neuroscience behind why prayer makes you feel more at peace.

I cannot recommend Finding God in the Waves highly enough.

You can find a copy of your own on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, or wherever books are sold.

 

The Equally Audacious but Hopefully More Successful 2014 Reading List

So last year I read a decent amount, just not what I planned to read necessarily.

Here’s to sticking to the plan this year!

Credit: uitdragerij via Flickr

Credit: uitdragerij via Flickr

January

The Locust Effect: Why The End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence
(Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros)

Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can – and Should – Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids

(Nicole Baker Fulgham)

February

Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women
(Sarah Bessey)

Growing Strong Daughters: Encouraging Girls to Become All They’re Meant to Be
(Lisa Graham McMinn)

March

Beauty will Save the World: Rediscovering the Allure and Mystery of Christianity
(Brian Zahnd)

The Crowd the Critic and the Muse: A Book for Creators
(Michael Gungor)

The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity
(Soong-Chan Rah)

April

The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel
(Barbara Kingsolver)

Red Moon Rising: How 24-7 Prayer is Awakening a Generation
(Pete Greig, Dave Roberts, and Peter Greig)

How Shall We Worship?
(Marva J. Dawn)

May

Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and Reconciliation  
(Miroslav Volf)

Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart
(Christena Cleveland)

June

The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See
(Richard Rohr)

Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Discipline
(Lauren F. Winter)

A Royal ‘Waste’ of Time: The Splendor of Worshipping God and Being Church for the World
(Marva J. Dawn)

July

Jesus Have I Loved, but Paul? A Narrative Approach to the Problem of Pauline Christianity
(J.R. Daniel Kirk)

Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Engaging the Mystery of Friendship Between Men and Women
(Dan J. Brennan)

August

Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community
(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

1984
(George Orwell)

September

Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith
(Mae Elise Cannon, Lisa Sharon Harper, Troy Jackson and Soong-Chan Rah)

The Color Purple
(Alice Walker)

October

Down We Go: Living Into the Wild Ways of Jesus
(Kathy Escobar)

Hope Abundant: Third World and Indigenous Women’s Theology
(Kwok Pui-lan)

November

Their Eyes Were Watching God
(Zora Neale Hurston)

Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision
(Randy Woodley)

December

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
(Jen Hatmaker)

Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
(Anne Lamott)