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A Curious Faith

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A Curious Faith by Lore Ferguson Wilbert continues to pop on for recommendation by some women I follow on social media. After reading the book, I'm not sure if these women have read it and are promoting it or are just promoting their friends. 
I think that all people should be curious about faith. God can handle all of our doubts and questions. Wilbert's attempt to raise questions is great, however, there's no deep dive to find answers. Stories about herself and some misused scripture make the book hard to recommend. She uses plenty of quotes in the book but a lot of them are from questionable sources. Sure, a broken clock is right twice a day, but that doesn't make it a reliable resource. It's wonderful that she's encouraging people to ask questions, but I wouldn't recommend this book to someone who is questioning anything.

*I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
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Lore has a gift with words. I have followed her through the years and her last book so I knew I wanted to read this one. If you feel curious and love to sit with books, chatting about deep stuff and questions in life... you will love this book. There are several paragraphs where I felt seen and understood. What a relief God don't freak out with our questions. Thanks for writing Lore I'm praying for your next book (hopefully soon). "when the pain of life comes knocking— and it will come knocking— we need a framework that goes beyond tautological living. We need a framework that allows for big, audacious, confrontational, unanswerable questions". "..the question matters because part of our journey of faith is moving through the doubts and putting ourselves in a place where the outcome we desire is possible. Even if the place itself is powerless and even if the people around us are powerless too. Wanting to be well is just as important as doing everything we can to be well. Wanting God to answer our questions and satisfy our curiosity and solve world hunger and bring world peace is just as important as involving ourselves in the answers. There must be action to our faith".
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There’s a testimony that Lore Ferguson Wilbert gives in this book that is electrifying in its sheer simplicity. We want to be God and we are not!

Through questions, and there’s a lot of them to consider, she simply digs and digs like a careful archaeologist might among the ruins, and when she has unearthed the treasure it is this: God has stooped to our creatureliness, and suffered with us and for us.

As a result of reading this book, I hope to join her in the journey of humility toward admitting my fallibility, walking before God and before others as a pilgrim, despite the unexpected sufferings and disappointments along the way. I thank God her marriage has survived the twenty- seven year journey thus far. Sadly, my marriage has not fared so well. 

As we all have disappointments, we all have our many questions, and it takes time to find an answer or two. Thanks, Lore, for partnering with us, your readers.
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Way too much prooftexting for me. Concept of this book sounds great and something I could support and get excited about but after 7 chapters I couldn’t believe how much was being taken out of context for the author’s point. 

I also couldn’t believe that she had used a quote from Peterson’s commentary on Jonah that makes him sound like a model prophet in chapter 3- made me question both her and Peterson majorly. This is my first book I’ve attempted to read by her.

This did spark my curiosity to go back to these passages she references and look for myself as to what these questions are actually saying about God and us- I’m pretty sure God asking Adam and Eve in the garden “Where are you?” after they have disobeyed his command is about so much more than a physical location.
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A very quick and thought-provoking read! I would've taken longer chapters, as some are shorter than a devotional. I understand that this is book about QUESTIONS, but the startling lack of answers shocked me. Do not expect to have your questions answered adequately, but instead simply identified, explored, and validated. I would not recommend this to someone who is specifically looking for answers to the questions that are mentioned!
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I wanted to love this book after seeing several people rave about it. Unfortunately, I found it decidedly middle-of-the-road. Wilbert makes some good points. She also appears to fundamentally misunderstand some basic things. Maybe I would've enjoyed it more if instead of grazing over 30+ questions, she'd done a deep dive into just a few. I just know that I found this one disappointing and frustrating.
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Beautiful book based on questions we see throughout the Bible and applied to our lives. This is a book to savor and read slowly.
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Questions are everywhere right now- inside and outside of The Church. So many are wrestling with similar questions, and it is incredibly daunting when faced with them.

BUT, this book. This book courageously meets these questions, and challenges you to press in instead of running away.

Even if you are not some who who considers themselves a follower of Jesus, I highly recommend this book! Soak it in and let it challenge you
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Thank you for the chance to read this book.
The thing with books, especially books on spirituality, is that they can be good while still not working for a reader. I found that with this book. I think it would be great food for thought for Christians or former Christians, especially those raised not to question authority. The questions the book asks, broken into three sections -- questions we ask God, questions God asks us, and questions we wish people would ask us -- are all important questions, and if you haven't been given space to ask them, then this book would be very beneficial. As it was, though, for me, it didn't quite hit the right marks. The questions that aren't relevant to my own journey I felt like skipping over, and the questions that are felt rushed. Again this isn't to say it is an unsuccessful book; only that it didn't quite work for me.

My mini-review will go live on my blog on August 31 in my monthly roundup of spiritual and theological readings.
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This book has been such a good, deep breath for me. It’s called me into a more integrated and more wholesome faith. It gives me permission to embrace my humanity and the questions that are bound up in it. You can’t help but to walk away feeling seen and less alone.
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Lore writes with invitation and intention. She names many questions here that I've also asked myself and is comfortable allowing them to stand without tidy answers or resolutions. I love the way this book makes space and even celebrates living the big, messy, complicated questions out in real life. I'll return to these short little chapters over and over again as I do the hard work of facing my faith questions head-on. 4.5 stars.
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Rainer Maria Rilke famously urges readers to “live the questions” and to “love the questions.” That’s a tall order for our answer-worshiping culture, but I want to keep asking questions and, in particular, to leave space for God (and others) to ask me questions. Lore Wilbert invites her readers into A Curious Faith by examining the biblical questions God has asked, the questions biblical characters have asked of God, and the questions we wish someone would ask us.

Wilbert celebrates the vulnerability of waiting for clarity or receiving an answer we don’t want– and she laments the fact that Christ-followers may have a reputation for being suspicious of questioners. It is a gift to remember that the God of the Bible is curious, and we have been created in his image. In fact, “the Bible is a permission slip for those with questions” since Jesus peppered the Gospels with “Who told you?” and “What do you want?” and “Why are you afraid?”

Perhaps the book’s most stunning description centers on God’s use of questions to comfort Job with images of his own timelessness and mighty power. Job needed a God who was more sovereign than he was–and so do I.

In all our wonderings, we can be certain that God has plans and hopes and good intentions for us. He is committed to living the questions alongside us until we see his face and then discover that he was what we were looking for all along.

Many thanks to Brazos Press for providing a copy of this book to facilitate my review, which is, of course, offered freely and with honesty.
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Reading A Curious Faith feels a lot like meeting a trusted friend for coffee: first reminiscing over things you both know to be true, then slowly, carefully opening up the messy, uncertain parts of your lives to each other. 

Lore’s gentle writing style belies the depth of doubt she has personally experienced—and still experiences—but it is her honesty about her own struggles with faith that make this book so real and approachable. Her invitation to ask questions, coupled with her quiet confidence that God can handle even our hardest ones, is a gift to anyone who has ever struggled to reconcile faith and doubt.
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This was both a faster and deeper read than I expected. Absolutely thought-provoking, and one that prompts me to engage my faith with all of me—mind, body, spirit, emotions. God can handle my questions, and invites them, invites me to engage with him in them.

It was certainly an interesting book to read mostly in the wake of a surgery I hadn’t seen coming at all in life, let alone around the turn of the new year into 2022. So yeah, I’ve got time, different brain space (literally), and a few questions haha. But honestly, that’s kind of the best place to be, and this book helps frame that and me to lean into that in this unique (I don’t want to say “unprecedented,” because we all hate that word now thanks to covid) time.

I received an eARC of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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Lore Ferguson Wilbert's newest book, A Curious Faith: The Questions God Asks, We Ask, and We Wish Someone Would Ask Us (released on 2 August 2022) is an exploration of what it means to ask questions of one's faith, tradition, and of God. Is curiosity and questioning dangerous and sinful, or divine and a God-given gift?

From the publisher:
Popular writer Lore Ferguson Wilbert has belonged to Christian communities that discouraged curiosity. The point of the Christian life was to have the right answers, and asking questions reflected a wavering faith. But Wilbert came to discover that the Bible is a permission slip to anyone who wants to ask questions.

Reflecting her own theological trajectory toward a more contemplative, expansive faith, Wilbert invites readers to foster curiosity as a spiritual habit. This book explores questions God asks us, questions we ask God, and questions we ask each other. Christianity is not about knowing good answers, says Wilbert, but about asking good questions--ones that foster deeper intimacy with God and others.

A Curious Faith invites readers to go beyond pat answers and embrace curiosity, rather than certainty, as a hallmark of authentic faith.


Whenever one engages in conversation, which I believe is one of the parts of reading a book, it is helpful to know to with whom one is speaking. This is especially true in theological conversations where one's background and tradition often illuminate a host of assumptions around doctrinal ideas and vocabulary. Lore Ferguson Wilbert is an American writer who has spent much time in Evangelical circles. She and her husband now worship in an Anglican congregation in New York state, where they live. (Wilbert does not clarify whether it is an ACNA congregation or an Episcopal congregation they have joined.) Her language and certain foci in this book reflect her Evangelical background and a continuing conservative viewpoint, both theologically and socially.

A Curious Faith is written in an easy-to-read, conversational style. Each chapter takes up a question which is framed with a quote from the Bible. The chapters are short and succinct, usually no more than a few pages long. The questions posed by Wilbert are explored primarily using anecdotes, either from her own life or stories collected from other people. This pattern gives the writing a relatable, casual, memoir feel.

There are some brief but truly lovely theological reflections in this book. Wilbert discusses curiosity, the relationship between theology and geography, sin, shame, faith, and God's love in a frank, sometimes arresting way. She is also not afraid to approach questions that, in many circles I am familiar with, are too uncomfortable or personal to be discussed. Subjects like sin, personal responsibility in faith, human anger and disappointment in God, and spiritual honesty make many people uncomfortable. Wilbert acknowledges the discomfort but persists in the discussion, seeing the benefit in opening up these awkward questions.
God is trying to show [Adam and Eve] that this shame they have over their nakedness has a source. He wants them to see that they are not the source of that shame, and neither is he. The enemy is someone else.
Everything about us as humans is rooted in the reality that we are named creatures. We are not independent, autonomous Creators. We are not unattached from all the realities and tragedies that exist in our world today and that have ever existed.
Sometimes I have treated faith less like faith and more like a bargain. I act like I have put God in my debt. I will do this and he will do that. He does this and I respond in kind. He keeps his promises, I keep mine. Likewise, I keep my promises, he keeps his. This never works for very long. Because although he is a promise-keeper, he keeps only the promises he actually makes.
There are moments in A Curious Faith where I found myself curious about exactly what Wilbert meant. She refers at one point, in a discussion about her parents, to "sexual sin" without any expansion on whose sin or what it might have been. Did her parents carry the trauma of sexual abuse? Was there adultery? Or did she mean more broadly and widely disputed ideas of sexual sin such as the sexuality of LGBTQ+ people? It is always dissatisfying when an author drops a loaded term into the conversation and walks away from it without clarifying what they meant.

In this book God is an exclusively male figure and is addressed in what is today, in Anglican circles, often called "traditional" language. This is not in and of itself a problem, but may prove a stumbling block for people seeking assistance asking questions of their faith because of negative experiences with patriarchal structure. Some parts of Wilbert's writing feel less like an invitation to others to engage in questioning and curiosity and more like personal faith journal entries or spiritual direction sessions. There are hints of disillusionment with prosperity gospel teachings in some of the discussion about the morality of God and theodicy in general. I am not suggesting that these questions are unworthy or poor inclusions in the book, rather than they may be most useful to people living a particular experience of Christian growth, deconstruction, and questioning.

In spite of her move to a different Christian tradition, the formative influence of American Evangelicalism is evident in Wilbert's writing. She still writes with the Evangelical assumption that it is the normative and universal Christian tradition, and that others are somehow exceptions. In the quote below it seems that Wilbert is suggesting that her current Anglican congregation is somehow not a part of the Western church represented by her previous megachurch congregation. At the same time, she attributes the cycle of celebrity leaders that is rife in Evanglicalism and significantly rarer in traditions like Anglicanism, Lutheranism or Roman Catholicism as a feature of "the Western church today".  I don't believe that she intends to hold up American megachurch Evangelicalism as the Christian norm against which all other traditions are measured (God forbid the thought!), but this way of speaking with the implicit assumptions is symptomatic of the Evangelical formation around its own tradition as "Christian" and all others being something slightly different.
In the Western church today, we're in an epidemic of celebrity. It seems like every single week a pastor, leader, writer, speaker, singer, or teacher rises to meteoric fame and another one falls. The constancy of it has worn our family to the point where we left our megachurch, changed our denomination, moved to a small town, and now attend a two-hundred-year-old church full of octogenarians.

 

Overall, I think this book is just fine and certainly has a place in the theological conversation. The writing is accessible and if one had a group, such as a parish book study or small group, who were looking for ways to explore asking questions in faith, this book might be a useful companion in that work. I suspect the book will appeal most strongly to people who, like the author, have left more restrictive traditions were questions were discouraged and are now looking for ways to flex those interrogative muscles.

If someone asked me for a book that might be helpful on the "Exvangelical" deconstruction journey, I would probably recommend the writing of Rachel Held Evans or Kate Bowler before this book. However, if the request were specifically about the practice of questioning, especially reflective questioning, this book would be an excellent recommendation. It is a useful, worthwhile book for a particular audience.

NB: I received an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) of A Curious Faith from Baker Publishing through netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
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In A Curious Faith, Lore Ferguson Wilbert invites the reader to become more comfortable bringing their questions and doubts to God. While telling her own story of deconstruction and reconstruction, she points to the faithfulness of God in graciously caring for her. There is 32 bite sized chapters in this book looking at questions God asks us, questions we ask God, and questions we wish others would ask us. These questions give the opportunity to grow relationally and encourage the art of intellectual exploration. This book is very approachable,  though I would say it's better for those that are struggling with navigating their faith.
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If you’re weary of a strident, dogmatic version of Christianity without room for nuance or mystery, this book is for you. Please don’t misunderstand me. It is Biblically sound. It’s just more realistic and thoughtful than most of what I’ve been exposed to in Christian publishing. 

I’ve been reading Lore Wilbert’s work for years, and the word that comes to mind to describe her is FAITHFUL. She seeks to know Jesus and to walk with him rather than to align herself with a particular ideology or movement—something that is desperately lacking in our current “Christian” culture in the U.S.  

For me, Chapter 12: Is It Right for You to be Angry?, was alone worth the price of the book. An excerpt:
“That’s what this whole book is about. That’s what these questions are about. They are asking, at their core: What are you happy/sad/angry/glad/fearful/grieving about? What is underneath these big emotions you have? What is behind the stoic mask you wear? What hull of a ship or belly of a fish or withering plant does God want to take you to, to help you see how big and unpredictable, how surprising his grace and goodness can be?”

If you want more of the grace and goodness of God, read this book.
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I've been following Lore's 'Sayable' blog for at least six years, and when her first book 'Handle with Care' came out, I rushed to buy it because her words have wisdom. And when presented with the ability to be part of the launch team for 'A Curious Faith', I jumped on the opportunity.
She finds a striking balance of vulnerability and reflection, while continuously and consistently pointing out the character of God and how He relates to us. Lore doesn't hesitate to pull back the curtain on what she's wrestled with and how she's felt in seasons, and I very much appreciate her transparency. She also skillfully shows that the biblical stories we may have heard from childhood on are filled with real people, with real emotions, and with actions and reactions that we ourselves would also make were we in the same circumstances.
I am eagerly awaiting having the physical copy of the book in my hands as my kindle edition is so very highlighted - I know that this book, if read with an open heart, will be transformative. Especially to those of us who have walked a faith journey for a number of years and find it difficult to embrace curiosity and questions.
Buy the book. You won't regret it.
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I found Lore in Instagram and immediately felt so safe in her sphere of influence. She speaks with a wisdom and embodiment that holds space for others. I read and loved her previous book on touch and have been looking so forward to reading this new book. I was not disappointed. She reminds us that bravely asking questions is safe. That the God who loves us welcomes (and questions us back!) in a relationship not based on us believing all the right things or getting everything right but rather on who God is and how much he loves us. That some questions may never be answered but life flows from the asking anyways. “Curiosity is a discipline of the spiritual sort”. And I have found that to be true in my life and I love this book for companioning me in that journey.
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Honestly I read this book too quickly because I wanted to review it before it released, and now I can’t wait to start it all over again, pull out my journal and slowly unpack and explore each chapter, each question.

Previously I haven’t been so curious, I’ve gone along with other peoples opinions and answers instead of letting myself sit with the questions and if need be let them sit unanswered. This book helped me realise that it’s ok to have questions and more than that, that it’s ok to take these questions to God, to be honest in your doubts or confusion, and to explore your wonderings and curiosity. It reminded me of the beautiful truth that we have a curious God, a God who asked many questions and loves us to do the same.
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