Friday, December 17, 2010

"Putting Away Childish Things" by Marcus Borg

(DISCLAIMER I HAVE TO MAKE: HarperOne sent me a copy of this book for free to review for my blog. But they ain't payin' me!)

Many of you recognize Marcus Borg as a well established--and sometimes controversial--biblical scholar. Putting Away Childish Things is his first novel . . . and it shows! The story is underdeveloped, the characters aren't all that interesting, and the pacing is just way too slow to keep anyone interested.

The novel follows an established religion professor named Kate who teaches at a liberal arts college. Things are going great until one day she receives an offer to be a visiting professor at a seminary. There are just a few problems. First, the dean at this seminary is Kate's former lover (for a devout Episcopalian, Kate sure has been around the block a few times!). And second, the parents of her students is afraid that she's either too Christian or too liberal (in one scene, she shocks a Christian radio station during an interview by saying that the virgin birth might not have been factual).

The majority of the story is Kate wringing her hands and saying, "What shall I do?" while her friends (including the obligatory gay best friend who always knows what to say) keep telling her, "It's gonna be alright." Did I mention that this book is over 300 pages? That's right, 300 pages of navel gazing! After a while, I stopped caring whether or not Kate accepted the position.

And speaking of characters, Borg doesn't give us enough reason to care for these people. Why should I give a crap about a bunch of hoity-toity snobs who are always eating at high dollar restaurants (I've yet to meet a teacher who can afford high dollar restaurants every night!) and looking down on evangelicals. The only character I liked was Amy, one of Kate's students. She is having questions about her faith, and hopes that Kate's class can help her sort things out. The conversations between Kate and her students are the only interesting scenes in the novel, but they only pop up every 50 pages.

I haven't read any of Borg's other books yet, but I hope his nonfiction is better than his fiction!

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