Between a Church and a Hard Place by Andrew Park

So I just finished an interesting book. I would not have picked this one up myself. My wife saw that Stretch Mark Mama was “Hogging this Book from the Library” and thought that I might be interested in it. I too think A LOT about churches and religion as an institution. Most of the books I read are “insider” focused… thought provoking, yes. However, those books I read are from pastors, leaders… religious folk.

The Book is Between a Church and a Hard Place: One Faith-Free Dad’s Struggle to Understand What It Means to be Religious (or Not) by Andrew Park.

First of all, Andrew is a non church goer. His family does not go to church. It is only when his children begin asking questions related to God that he realizes that perhaps he is not being the parent that he should be. He begins to wonder if he should openly expose his children to all types of religion so that they can ultimately make a decision for themselves instead of following in his footsteps of an antagonistic approach to religion.

The book is an interesting read of his life struggle with God and religion. The book gives us a great glimpse of how those outside the church view it. I actually found his research fascinating as he began to affiliate himself with those who are considered to have Godlessness. I found it interesting that there is a created acronym for varieties of Godlesssness: SUNINSHARFAN

  • Skeptic
  • Unbeliever
  • Non-believer
  • Irreligious
  • Nonreligious
  • Secular
  • Humanist
  • Agnostic
  • Rationalist
  • Freethinker
  • Atheist
  • Naturalist / Nontranscendentalist

This list makes a lot of sense. Andrew at the end of the book, thanks “whoever” for blessing him with his family. He’s not Atheist, he’s just Lost. Several times in the book it mentions that many who fit within this acronym encourage education regarding religion. Otherwise, they say, the “mysterious” ways of religion may actually be tempting to young. Interesting. I did find that education about Hell is discouraged because it is seen as a scare tactic and indoctrination method to push a decision.

I guess the biggest takeaway with the book is that it did allow myself to view the church from the opposite team (Hey, Andrew used that term, not me.) I often believe that we get too insider focused and are more concerned about keeping other church members happy than being concerned for our lost friends/families/neighbors. The reality is that there are so many reasons why those people are not engaging with the church.

Do we really care? If we do, we should actually try to understand where they are coming from. This is a book that needs to be read with a intentional perspective to learn what has turned them off to church, religion and ultimately God.

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