Written by a woman the same age as my oldest daughter, I was intrigued from the start. Alisa writes that “This book was born out of my search for a faith that’s more than the sum of my political convictions and for a meaningful way of living it out.”
Picking up this book, my thoughts were that somehow I would understand this generation more. The further along I got into the book, the more I realized that while Alisa related it to her generation; it wasn’t so much about one particular generation as it is was about wrong attitudes and misdirected beliefs, regardless of the age.
Alisa terms it political and I label it more as a “religious zealot.” In the prologue she writes, “I’m also writing this for people who want to make sense of this strange new breed of Christian.” Strange new breed of Christian…hum now isn’t that is an interesting set of words!
Just what is she implying? After all, there is nothing new for us “Jesus followers”, right? Well, not unless the belief system has drowned in the sewage of politics and religious rhetoric!
Wrote as a memoir, Alisa explains that she grew up in a family that participated in abortion demonstrations and was actively involved in the Republican party. She seemed destined to a life of supporting the cause and beliefs this party adheres to.
Like most teens though, once she journeyed outside her birth family and into the college years; she began to question not only how her parents, but her beloved Republican party lived out what Jesus taught.
Included in her stories are memories of deep hurt and confusions caused by her own church “family,” and pastors. Unfortunately, she is not the only one in this world who has experienced deep hurt parallel with “religious” institutions. Fortunately, Alisha was strong enough in her own faith and belief in God not to walk away.
I hate to admit that I have been on both sides. No doubt that at one time, my judgmental, self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitude probably harmed those I intended to help. I realized years ago, while doing an “outstanding” job of teaching my children about do’s and don’ts, somewhere along the way I left out the message of grace. Then sadly, my family and I have been deeply hurt by those in the “church” who chose condemnation and not grace and love.
Although Alisha did not receive love and acceptance from those in her home church, she did come to the understanding that love isn’t just a word which we easily slip out of our mouth. To love, like Jesus; one has to “be not bystanders but participants in a dangerous world.”
Throughout most of the book, in my mind I was screaming, “You go, girl!” Alisha’s unbiased honesty and quick wit reveals the journey taken in walking through and working out her own drive for power. Coming to a point where she realizes that, “Instead of seeking power, I want to work for the kingdom’s picture of peace.”
Like most of us, she shares her struggles in figuring out where her own faith lies. Not her grandparents faith, her parents faith; but solely her own. And at the end of the day, it comes back to the simple message of Jesus, taught to her by her parents and now being passed down to her own children. It looks different and is being walked out in a fresh new way, but the message at the end of the day is still the same. “To care, to love and to take heart! …In other words, as Jesus urged His followers, “Take heart! I have overcome the world” – not through a show of power but a picture of love.”