Church: Why Bother? by Philip Yancey
"Philip Yancey asks the question that haunts many believers: Why should I bother with the church? From growing up in rural Georgia in a fundamentalist church to his experience at LaSalle Street Church in inner city Chicago, Philip reflects on the church, his own perceptions of it, and the various metaphors the Bible uses to describe it. Yancey's own early church experience set his faith back by many years. In Church: Why Bother? he offers us a glimpse of his pilgrimage back to faith and to the church as a place of real community and spiritual vitality. This honest and insightful book will help you explore your questions about the place of the church in the life of faith and how to find spiritual connection and community." (from the publisher)
Even though this book doesn't give me the excuse to stop going to church, (kidding) it does give some great answers to burning questions for those who are slightly fed up with church in this day and age. And, of course, in the end I find that while pointing fingers at the church I have three pointing back at me. The church is comprised of people and people are pretty flawed. There's a reason why the Bible refers to us as sheep and it's not because we're fluffy and cute. It's because we are dumb. We screw everything up...even church.
Zeppelins West by Joe R. Lansdale
"The Wild West Show travels by Zeppelin to perform before a Shogun, soon to be emperor of Japan, only to discover the Frankenstein monster is being whittled down slowly and ground into aphrodisiacs by the would-be ruler. Buffalo Bill, who, due to a recent accident, exists only as a battery powered head in a jar of liquid manufactured from the best that modern science and pig urine has to offer, along with Wild Bill Hickok, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, and a cast of historical as well as literary characters, rescue the monster, only to be shot down over the Pacific, where they are saved from sharks by Captain Nemo and his intellectual seal, Ned. And then things get weird." (from Amazon.com)
And then things get weird. An understatement if I've ever heard one. This is, perhaps, the strangest book I've ever read. How do you describe a book that mixes legends of the Old West, the sci-fi writings of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, and a healthy dose of irreverent humor. You can't. And the fact that there's no plot to speak of doesn't help the situation.
So, what drew me to this book in the first place? Well, I love Lansdale's book The Bottoms. I like some of the alternate history fiction that's out there. This seemed like it might be a fun read. It was kinda fun but also kinda just odd. I think Lansdale could do well with this genre if he would think of a plot. It's one thing to thrust historical and fictional characters together and hope something interesting happens. Perhaps he thought the juxtaposition of said characters would provide all the entertainment necessary. I don't agree. These characters needed a call, a quest, a goal to strive for. Some had them but they were weakly developed.
Now, my quandry is that I also read this because I was more interested in the sequel, Flaming London. Do I take my chances and read that one as well, hoping for more of a plot this time? I don't know. I'll let you know if I do.