Sunday, March 13, 2011

50BC11 #3: Putting Away Childish Things

Putting Away Childish Things: A Tale of Modern FaithPutting Away Childish Things: A Tale of Modern Faith by Marcus J. Borg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'll be honest and say that I'd like to give this book two different ratings. As a novel, I'd give it only three, maybe 3.5, stars. As a "didatic novel" (what Borg calls it), it rates higher (hence the four stars). So, in the end, I think I really wanted to read a novel, not the latter.

On a personal level, I had a lot in common with the protagonist, Kate--a young introspective professor, who drives a red Volvo! Borg does a good job of developing her character as well as presenting a vivid supporting cast in Fredrika, Geoff, and to some extent, Martin (although I wanted more there).

Depending on the reader's background in theology and desire for it, this novel will at times seem tedious as the various characters exchange in Christian theological discussions which are largely meant to educate the reader. I felt the classroom discussions were rather contrived, although I congratulate Marcus Borg if those discussions were based on his actual teaching experience. Kate's class is one that most professors will only dream of having.

There was, however, quite a bit that touched me in this novel, largely through the protagonist. Universal themes of rejection, self-doubt, growth, leaps of faith--it is all there, and much of it was very resonant as I am familiar with the political environment of academia.

I admire Borg's non-fiction writing to a tremendous degree and hope that a second novel will aim to be less didactic, perhaps, because the strength of this novel was actually obfuscated by the "teaching" aspect.

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