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Book Review: Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?

Does this Church Make Me Look Fat?

Marketing Copy:
What does it mean to give church a try when you haven’t really tried since you were twelve? At the end of her bestselling memoir Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Rhoda Janzen had reconnected with her family and her roots, though her future felt uncertain. But when she starts dating a churchgoer, this skeptic begins a surprising journey to faith and love.

Rhoda doesn’t slide back into the dignified simplicity of the Mennonite church. Instead she finds herself hanging with the Pentecostals, who really know how to get down with sparkler pom-poms. Amid the hand waving and hallelujahs Rhoda finds a faith richly practical for life–just in time for some impressive lady problems, an unexpected romance, and a quirky new family.

Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? is for people who have a problem with organized religion, but can’t quite dismiss the notion of God, and for those who secretly sing hymns in their cars, but prefer a nice mimosa brunch to church. This is the story of what it means to find joy in love, comfort in prayer, and–incredibly, surprisingly–faith in a big-hearted God.

My Review
I finished this book a couple of days ago. I’ve talked about it with a friend and with my husband. I’ve started this review a half dozen times, and scrapped every one of them. There are parts I really liked. But all in all, it was not easy to like. And yet, I would recommend it. Now you know why I keep scrapping the reviews.

This book is good. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it at first. It’s a bit “edgier” than most of the books I read. It’s gritty and real. The author uses big words. I was glad I was reading it on my Nook so that I could just tap the word I didn’t know and look it up—but there were words that weren’t in its dictionary, either.

This book stretched me. I usually pick up a book and if I like it, I read it straight through. This book wouldn’t let me do that. It made me think. I found myself cheering at times, laughing out loud, and all teary at others.

This book takes the reader on a journey, and it’s not always pleasant or pretty. But it’s real. I could relate to her faith journey. I especially thought the discussions of her struggle with sex and tithing were worth the price of the book in themselves. These were not simplistic handlings of controversial topics, but nuts and bolts, real person questioning, and coming to resolution.

Over a decade ago, I was the interim pastor at a Mennonite church. I could see some of what the author has written might ruffle a few feathers, and possibly offend some. On the other hand, I know several people who struggle with issues with the church and their faith journey and I think this book would give them some things to grab onto and wrap their minds around.

This book is tight. Everything in there belongs. It’s real. It’s not fluffy. And how can you look fat when you’re beautifully transparent?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rhoda Janzen is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Mennonite in a Little Black Dress and the poetry collection Babel’s Stair. She holds a Ph.D. from UCLA and teaches English and creative writing at Hope College in Holland, Michigan

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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