When Hurtful Things Happen in Christian Churches (by James Lowrance)

From time to time, I look through the Kindle Store on Amazon, checking for free and inexpensive downloads in my favourite categories. I always check the Christian section, and have been able to acquire some excellent bargains on occasion.

Unfortunately, I've also acquired some rubbish, and some almost unreadable books, which I give up on after a couple of pages. Not really a problem since I didn't pay for them and it's easy enough to delete them. I don't even bother to review them if I haven't completed them.

Then there are books like 'When hurtful things happen in Christian Churches', which I read over a couple of days this week. The title intrigued me, and the premise seemed good. I've read several books about problems with local churches, and am always interested to find different people's perspectives.  It was short, too - a larger default font than most books, and only a handful of chapters. So I did at least read this one to the end.

The author, James Lowrance, is apparently quite prolific in the e-book world. He has published many books on health disorders, as well as some other Christian ones.

In this book, he writes about problems he and his family have experienced in various church congregations, leading them to leave. He certainly doesn't give the impression of pride or arrogance, admitting to times when he made mistakes, and the anecdotes were fairly interesting. He also gives a fairly balanced view of the important features for good church leaders, and accepts that, for increasing numbers of Christians, it may be better not to meet for worship on a Sunday morning than to go to a church gathering and experience emotional or spiritual damage. I don't have issue with what the author says in this book, and to be fair, I guess it might be useful to some folk in similar situations.

Unfortunately, the style of the book is ponderous, with extensive quotations included from the Authorised Version of the Bible (called King James Version or KJV in the US). References and summaries would have been more useful, to allow for readers to look in their own preferred versions of the Bible. Better still, in my view, would have been simple references linked to full quotations in an appendix, since a Kindle allows for hyperlinks.

There are many grammatical and spelling errors that began to grate, too, in particular misuse of hyphens in unlikely places. The style overall is rambling and repetitive, and cried out for a proofreader. I suppose it's inevitable that self-published Kindle books may be of lesser quality than those accepted for publication, but unfortunately poor style and errors detract noticeably from the content - and it seems odd in someone who is apparently such an expert with the e-book world.

All in all, I really don't recommend this, despite having received it at no cost.  There are many much better written books on the topic from various perspectives, with different conclusions - such as Philip Yancey's 'Church: Why bother?', Jim Palmer's 'Divine Nobodies', Pete Ward's 'Liquid Church', or the brilliant fictional story, 'So you don't want to go to church anymore?' by Jake Colsen.

Note that Amazon links above are to the paperback version of the book.

Review copyright Sues book reviews, 2nd August 2012


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