I am reposting this 2014 review because the Kindle Edition is on sale for $0.99.
Summary: An early memoir of finding God through the church.
I am not sure when I started following Preston Yancey on twitter. I think it has been in the last year and I think it was because he is part of a group of people that I have been following as they are embracing the Anglican church.
So starting at the end, in fact, only a couple weeks ago, Preston publicly said he is pursuing ordination in the Anglican church. That is the end of the story. The beginning of the story is of a pastor’s kid going to college and ready to save the world. As a freshman, he and his roommate decided to start a church. As much because of their youth and distraction and poor relationship skills as anything else, the church fails within the year.
That failure, which seems to be at least partly hubris, was the start of the lost phase of the book. Life is not simple. What is easy is not always what is right. Growing up is about standing on our own and finding our own way, but often just as much, about realizing that we don’t have to find a new way, the ability to choose what others have also chosen is a way of showing maturity as well.
It is hard for me not to compare this to Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. Preston Yancey is young, he is writing a memoir at 25. So there is some of the dumb stuff that every young adult does and regrets. Like Miller, Yancey is breaking away and challenging the ideas and church of his formative years. Yancey is not trying to make his way to God outside of the church, but through the church. This is far healthier and I think increasingly common from my vantage point.
Blue Like Jazz hit a cord with people of my generation that are now in their 40s. We wanted to break away of the sometimes oppressive structure of the church we had grown up in to allow God to work in the world and with people that were not accepted by our churches.
Preston Yancey went to some of those churches that were trying buck against tradition and bucked against that. He found God through tradition, the eucharist, the beauty of the liturgy. He found written prayers and prayer books when he couldn’t find words to pray himself. It is a story that I have been hearing a lot lately and I am glad that there are some books illustrating it.
The weakness of Donald Miller’s method is that is that it lacks structure. Miller’s got a lot of flack earlier this year for saying he didn’t regularly go to church because he found church in community, that community just didn’t happen to be a part of a traditional church. That make complete sense with his earlier writing and allowed some to feel justified in dismissing him. I don’t want to dismiss Miller, he is an important voice and a voice that allowed many to know that they could find God in alternative ways than what had been narrowly available to them prior.
The strength of Yancey’s path is that he knows it is easy to be swayed and moved by personal feelings and emotions and the latest ideas. So seeking to be grounded in something other than the individual helps ground his Christian faith outside of his own feelings that day. It allows him to rely on the faith of those around him when he is weak, and allows him to help others when they are weak.
Yancey is a good writer for someone so young. He is very bright and asks hard questions. As someone that is nearly 20 years older than he is, I am encouraged by the book because I think it a sign of some of the strength of the next generation.