Saturday, September 22, 2012

Reading: Coffeehouse Theology by Ed Cyzewski

I grew up with the Catholic Church.  I went to public school and went to Catholic-like-schooling every Wednesday night where we learned about our faith but didn't take it seriously.  At the age of 13 I discovered a pop group called Jump5 who introduced me to a different kind of Christianity; one that said Jesus was still alive and standing in front of each of us with open arms wanting us to give our hearts to Him.  I entered high school with doubts about God because I didn't think I could hear His voice.  Everyone said He would speak to me but I couldn't hear him.  I learned that a person didn't need to go to church or call themselves a believer in God to be a good person; there was more to it than what I was led to believe all of my life.  I became fascinated with art.  I began to love musical theatre and traveling to all different lengths to see a show.  I began reading magazines about writing and reading fictional books that moved me more to tears than true stories about real people and their struggles.  I listened to movie scores and turned off the radio.  I feared graduating high school and going to college because I wasn't sure if it was what I wanted.  I wanted to write books but everybody told me, you can't go to college for something like that and quite frankly I didn't want to.  I wasn't sure that college was where I wanted to go but I went anyway from the pressures of family expectations, societal expectations, and partly because of my own fears of the real world.  I had gotten so used to school that I guess I was afraid to leave.  In truth I didn't know I had to power to not go.  I entered my freshman year frightened and not sure where God was in my life.  I still believed with all of my heart and went to church and sometimes read novels with Christian values and listened to Christian music.  Sometimes I wondered if God was real and those thoughts scared me.  I couldn't not believe in God but at the same time, I couldn't see or hear Him.  Where was God in art that I loved that sometimes spoke against Him?  Where was God at college, I wondered?  My peers all drank and had sex and partied and listened to music where singers who called themselves artists dropped the f-bomb every five seconds.  Where was God in that?  Where was God during my lectures that claimed Christianity was oppressing?  I just couldn't see Him anywhere but I wanted to so badly.  So badly.
And then one day during my junior year I was at a bargain store with my mom and spotted this book, Coffeehouse Theology by Ed Cyzewski.  Coffeehouse said artistic and Theology said religious studies.  Never did I think I would find a book like this and yet here is sat before me.  My spirits soared at the sight of this book and I picked it up and held it tightly in my hands, convinced that this was what I had been searching for.  If you read my earlier Wasted Wednesday post, Jesus Moments, I knew right away that this was one of them.  God works in mysterious ways is what everyone has told me.  God works through ordinary things to reach us and speak to us and suddenly I could hear God louder than ever.  I usually didn't choose to read non-fiction books but I couldn't let this one slip away.  I knew I had to read it.

Now that we have a back-story to this novel, let's go into what it is about.  Coffeehouse Theology explores the role of theology in the modern world.  Cyzewski defines postmodernism and discusses how traveling and learning about other cultures can help us see different theological practices that we may not agree with but can help us better to understand our own faith.  In this way, we can strengthen our faith.  The book talks about how much information is at our fingertips these days and with all of that information, it is important to remember that even though this world is full of different cultures and beliefs, we can learn from it all and that we are all united as Christians with the love for God.  Cyzewski says, "The main thing worth knowing is how to love God and to build people up through love."  The book also stresses the importance of reading the bible and not letting all of the information at the tip of our fingers distract us from what the bible says.  This book forces us to think and reflect on God in our everyday lives.

Cyzewski's writing was new to me since I wasn't used to this non-fiction writing style and at first I found it confusing but I slowly let my mind adjust and let the book teach me.  This book helped me clear my mind and put my thoughts in order.  It said things I had been thinking all along but just couldn't fathom the right words and ideas to make sense of it all.  It is a perfect book for anyone seeking a modern view of theology that doesn't question old beliefs but rather gives them a new spin that our generation can understand.  Cyzewski doesn't talk down to his readers but talks as if in  discussion.  I give this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.  It wasn't entirely what I expected but it was also different and that is what made me love it so much.  I highly recommend this book!

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