Faith Like a Child: Embracing Our Lives as Children of God by Lacy Finn Borgo

Faith Like a Child cover imageSummary: An exploration of what it means to “become like little children.”

Faith Like a Child was the most recent of the Renovaré book club selections. I have followed along with the book club for the past few years. I appreciate the ability to have small groups that meet in person or online or to participate in an online message board. Or just just listen to the podcasts and read the articles. Generally, I just listen to the podcasts and read the articles because I already participate in an in-person and an online book group, and I allow the Renovare books to fill in as I have time. I previously read the excellent book by Borgo on spiritual direction to children.

I am probably exactly the type of person who needs to read Faith Like a Child. I am overly serious, very interested in acquiring knowledge, not particularly interested in play, and was routinely told I was mature for my age as a child. It is not that I think that play is bad, but it tends to be something I have to work on.

Borgo and I are not too far apart in age, but her children are adults, and mine were late in life and so are still in mid-elementary school. There are definitely things that you learn as a parent about how to perceive the world through the eyes of a child. Faith Like a Child has many stories of parenting and working with children. It has many stories of the struggle to enjoy life or see the world with eyes of wonder.

It also assumes that the work to live well as a Christian who “becomes like a little child” will need practice. There are many recommended activities and books at the end of every chapter. As a spiritual director, one of the things I need to do is read books and try practices that don’t feel like they are for me. Because not every practice is for every person. However, as a spiritual director, I need some familiarity with the practices and spiritual activities that may be helpful for people who are not me. Two things that came up in spiritual direction sessions this past month or so were originally suggested in Faith Like a Child.

That being said, this book felt a bit off for me, and I am not entirely sure why. I can see the benefit of embracing wonder, play, rest, and many other things suggested here, but I have been very oriented toward maturity lately. One of my contentions is that evangelicalism has embraced pragmatic efficiency and “results” more than spiritual and emotional maturity. Maturity does take work. In some ways, I think that part of what Borgo is calling us to avoid the false dichotomy of “child-like” and immaturity. We can be emotionally and spiritually mature Christians and still play and enjoy life. And the false maturity of appearing to be above play and laughter is a rejection of real maturity. There is a false piety that rejects play as being too worldly and assumes spiritual things are serious.

I agree with all of the book’s main contentions. And I think, especially as someone who finds play a bit hard, I think I need to hear the message of the book. But still, it just didn’t hit me like I wanted it to, and I might have abandoned it if it was not part of a book club. Overall, I think the problem was probably me, not the book, but it did not grab me.

Faith Like a Child: Embracing Our Lives as Children of God by Lacy Finn Borgo Purchase Links: Paperback, Kindle Edition, Audiobook

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