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Much more than just an autobiography of a preacher turned humanist. I liked the book for the following reasons,
1) The listener quickly likes the author because of his obvious sincerity for the search for truth and his love of humanity and therefore it's easy to like the story since you will like the author
2) the book shows how tough it is to be a preacher in the rural south for a sincere believer
3) the backbiting within and between churches and church members is a background character through out.
4) I learned a lot about Pentecostals, their doctrines and their pettiness
5) the author writes the book without using the perfect vision of hindsight and writes the story as if his state of mind at the time was real (such as visions, faith healing and so on)
6) the author presents a step by step guide to his search for the perfect doctrine. His first questioning of his faith comes about after his grandfather passes away and faces eternal damnation just because he didn't embrace the right faith.
7) The author is sincere in his search and we the reader get all of the relevant steps and thought processes he uses in his journey which helps me understand why I believe the way I do
8) The first 2/3 of the book could be listened to by a true believer and she would not be critical at all of the book
9) The author does a marvelous job of reading his book and really adds to the experience with his southern accent and the cadence of a preacher when necessary. They did another thing I liked, whenever a woman was speaking in the story, the narrator would be female.
I found the book one of the most spiritual books I have ever listened to, and it has helped me understand why I believe the way I do and would recommend this audiobook to anyone.
21 of 21 people found this review helpful
I grew up about an hour south of where the majority of Jerry's story takes place and even though I wasn't raised in the Pentecostal church, I can verify that his descriptions of the area and its people are 100% accurate. I'm also an "in the closet" atheist with my family for fear of being shunned, so I connected with Jerry's story in more ways than one.
I'm glad I listened to the Audiobook rather than read the print version. There's something about Jerry reading it himself that really transports you into the story. It makes it that much more personal and I think added a lot to the experience. Jerry's down-to-earth voice had me smiling when he was chuckling at retelling some of his stories.
Jerry starts off talking about his life growing up and what led him to be a minister. He also describes how difficult this was financially for himself and his family. He had a strong desire to find the "right" branch of Pentecostalism - a journey that took him to Arizona and even had him move to Iowa for a short time. During his search, Jerry realized that what he'd been looking for didn't exist in those places - at first in organized religion, and then in any religion at all.
It truly is an amazing story of self-discovery, a theme that's so often played out in movies and tv and books that it can be hard to find a fresh story that really makes you think. Jerry's story was anything but played out. I have a 30 minute commute to work and, as someone who despises driving, found myself upset when I'd arrive at work or at home. I'd get out of the car and put on my headphones just to catch a few extra minutes while walking to the office and sneak in a few more at lunch.
The most poignant part of Jerry's story came when he finally admitted he was an atheist after flirting with the idea for some time. He realized he'd never see his father, grandfather, and cousin again. He describes the range of emotions he went through, from anger to anguish and finally, acceptance - even though he knew what repurcussions this would have within his family and his community. The part where he realizes he'll never see his father again was particularly heart wrenching because I went through a nearly identical scene when I lost my dad. Realizing I was an atheist and saying goodbye forever was one of the most difficult moments of my life and I was tearing up as Jerry relived his experience for us.
Jerry's detailed writing helps put the reader/listener right into the story. His vivid descriptions put you right in the middle of everything, from the extravagant churches to his office in city hall. It doesn't matter if you're atheist or religious, questioning what you believe or secure with where you stand - this is a great story and a wonderfully written book. Five stars.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
This was a wonderful and very inspirational book to read. Written with both clarity and humor. Will be re-visiting it again and again I am sure. It is refreshing to see a non-sugarcoated exit story too!