Is God Real or Pretend?

I know what I believe: a very emphatic, loud, resounding YES MA’AM!  I mean, if you read this post , you’ll understand that it’s by His very Grace that I’m alive. In addition, I believe He is a loving God, who through the Christian principles and teachings I’ve chosen to follow from The Bible, compels us to be compassionate, tolerant, non-judgmental and forgiving. And also that, as Glennon Doyle Melton, of Momastery  puts it…“God is forever tries.” In other words, no matter how many times we sin, or how bad the sins are…if you ask Him to come into your life and forgive you….He does. No questions asked.

At the same time, I respect what you believe. Even though your answer to this question may be vastly different from mine. That’s perfectly fine with me, because differences are what make our world a unique place to live. I’ve never been one to force my beliefs on anyone, and I don’t plan on starting now, on the 42nd anniversary of my birth (yes, today is my birthday). The various religions of the world and their individual teachings and guidelines have always fascinated me. I’ve even sought classes on the History of Religions, only to enroll and find out it was not going to supply me with the knowledge I was seeking, so I dropped out. Oh well. I suppose as an eternal student of life, I’ll just have to keep looking. But anyway, enough about that.

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The reason for my post today is simple. I was asked by TLC Book Tours to review a book entitled “Is God Real or Pretend”, by Jennifer Horsman.

Is God Real or Pretend? is the story of young Franklin’s engaging and enlightening journey to answer this age-old question. Franklin’s grandmother, Dr. Wendy Knowles, a professor of astronomy, first provides Franklin with the basic scientific means of determining what is real and what is not and how science distinguishes questions it can answer and those it cannot. Franklin’s mission of discovery continues as he meets a kindly professor of Greek mythology who offers a historical-cultural prospective on the question. Here Franklin meets the Greek Gods and their timeless myths.

Once armed with these new ideas, Franklin meets with representatives of the world’s five major religions: Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. These knowledgeable teachers from the great religions charm and delight as they shine positive lights on their religion. Franklin asks probing questions, while learning to appreciate and admire the diversity and beauty of these religious beliefs and traditions. Ultimately, Franklin’s dynamic school report on the immensity and magnificence of the universe becomes the backdrop for thinking critically about religion and questions about God.

This book is designed for anyone and everyone, young and old, religious or not, who wants to know more about these five great religions. It’s the most unforgettable and exciting journey, one every thoughtful child (and the curious adults in their life) will enjoy.

REVIEW

Being the mother of The Beans –Sugar, Butter, and Sweet Pea– and having just concluded a glorious holiday season during which they were all three baptized in a beautiful ceremony, our family lit the last candle of Advent–the Christ Candle — at our church’s Christmas Eve service, and then witnessing them open the gifts Santa brought them on Christmas Day…..my biggest issue with this book is that on page 2 it clearly states “SANTA CLAUS IS NOT REAL.”  WTF? Seriously. For a book that is geared towards a young audience, that’s just…well…wrong in my honest opinion. And to think, I almost read it to my youngest two children, who still whole-heartedly believe in the magic of Santa. Talk about dodging a bullet inevitably designed to break a tiny heart! Now, I realize not everyone allows their children to believe this myth based on the assumption that it’s ‘lying’ to them. And hey…to each his own. But I, for one, plan to allow mine to enjoy the magic for as long as they choose to. They grow up fast enough. Besides, I’ve witnessed Christmas miracles in my life that could only be explained by belief in both God and Santa Claus. So there.

All that being said, the book does an effective job of explaining the 5 major religions of the world: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It talks about each one separately, outlines the major rules or principles its followers abide by and explains the differences between the faiths. At the same time, the author manages to highlight how the various religions are similar in their teachings on an elemental level, which I very much enjoyed. In addition, the book addresses the existence of God from a scientific perspective, discusses the history of Greek Gods, or polytheistic belief, and talks about Agnostics, or those who are unsure whether God exists at all. The language is easy to understand, and it flows well, which is definitely a plus for a book about religion. All in all, an interesting read full of useful information.

In the end, Franklin, the curious child at the center of this story, says  “I learned that religions all have different ideas of God, but that God still remains mysterious,” and, “All religions try to help people be better.”  Both valuable points, I believe. However, ultimately he decides he likes “the scientific way of knowing best.” For me, this is not the conclusion I would prefer my children to settle upon, but that’s likely because I feel the presence of God in my life, have a strong faith and want my daughters to grow up with the same. Because often, at the end of a particularly challenging period in one’s life….hope, belief and faith may just be all you have to cling to.

Think I’ll tuck this book away from the eyes of The Beans until they begin asking questions. For now, they love Jesus with all their hearts, and believe God is very real….which is fine by me!

The Beans just after their Baptisms.

The Beans just after their Baptisms.

Jennifer Horsman is the author of many popular books for both young readers and adults. In addition to a B.A. from UC Irvine in Social Ecology (don’t ask; no one knows what it means), she has spent a lifetime reading about religion, philosophy, history and science.

You can find her books at www.JenniferHorsman.com, or by clicking on her picture below.

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And the winner is……

If you’ve followed all the magical madness happening here at A Calibama State of Mind, chances are you’ve read my last blog post. You know, the one where I reviewed the much-anticipated book, “Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed” by Glennon Doyle Melton. If you didn’t read it, I urge you to, and if you did….and followed the instructions to qualify for the giveaway….then you’ll want to pay close attention to THIS POST because there is an important announcement at the end 🙂

I had exactly 7 entries.

And in the spirit of one of the Momastery mantras…LOVE WINS….I decided the only fair way to choose the winner would be by placing all the names in a container and having Sugar Bean draw a random one from the bunch. Just so happened, we had the MOST PERFECT of containers for the drawing:

Sugar Bean's Valentine Box from preschool

Sugar Bean’s Valentine Box from preschool

Of course there is a story behind it. With me…there is always a story. Y’all know that. When Sugar Bean was in preschool, she needed something to put her Valentines in, and only having one child then, I had lots of time for crafty stuff, like making Valentine boxes. This started off as a plain, brown cardboard heart box from Pearl Arts & Crafts, I believe. You know, a random item that served a seasonal purpose. Lots of heart stickers, puffy paint (I wrote her name on the other side), about a pint of sparkle Modge Podge and a few pieces of hemp string later….it became what is now one of her most prized possessions. She has used it for her Valentine’s every year. Seriously. That makes it 10 years old, because she was 3 when I carefully put it together. And because she has taken such amazing care of it….it’s in pristine condition. 

So, what better place to choose the winner of this book, I ask you…than straight from a treasured heart?

Here we go…..

The names are in!!

The names are in!!

After this, she shook the box a lot, to make sure and mix them up. I took a photo of that, but it just looked like she was having a seizure, so I left it out of the post. LOL.

Next, she reached in and chose a name, modeling as she went along, like one of the girls on The Price Is Right. What a ham!!

Choosing a winner

Choosing a winner

So without further adieu…..the lucky winner is:

CONGRATS!!!!

CONGRATS!!!!

 

TAWNI SMITH

You are now the lucky owner of a copy of a book that I guarantee you will not be able to put down, and will read over and over!! I will contact you shortly, via email, so I can pass along your shipping information to TLC Book Tours, and you can receive your copy ASAP. Congrats, and thanks for participating!!!

 

 What an honor it was to be part of this book tour. I can’t thank those who made it possible nearly enough. Seriously. 

 

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Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed by Glennon Melton

 

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Let me start by saying, I’ve waited on this book from the moment I stumbled across Momastery.com, exactly one year, and 86 days ago. Which, ironically, is before the author found out she would be writing the book in the first place. Or at least before she told us Monkees. So, to say I was excited when TLC Book Tours asked me to review it, ON ITS BIRTHDAY, is a gross understatement. Oh, and when I figured out that request involved getting an Advance Reader’s Edition copy, directly from the publisher, Scribner Books…well, I peed a little. Okay, a lot. Then I told all my friends…or anyone who would listen. So this is a big deal for me folks, because I am about to give y’all my 2 cents on  Carry On, WarriorThoughts on Life Unarmed, the first book written by my girl crush blogging idol, Glennon Doyle Melton. A woman who has, unknowingly, changed my life.

Glennon Doyle Melton

Glennon Doyle Melton

 

I’ve read the book twice already.

Back to back, in fact. It’s that good.

Lucky for me, the copy I pre-ordered before I was asked to review it will be here today, because the second time through, I read with a yellow highlighter in my hand, marking all my favorite passages along the way. Now it looks like SpongeBob Squarepants puked in it. Of course, that’s the copy I will be taking with me to be autographed when I meet Glennon in a couple of weeks on her in real life book tour  for this magnificent baby. I can hardly wait!

Now, those of you who already follow Momastery, and no doubt, love Glennon as much as I, are aware of what a gifted storyteller she is, and what this book is all about… Love Wins. We Can Do Hard Things. Life is Brutiful. For those who aren’t familiar, (Hello? Where have you been?) it’s a collection of essays on facing life’s challenges– relationships, parenting, faith, addictions, fears–told with such authenticity, humor, forgiveness and bravery, you’ll no doubt find yourself nodding in agreement and/or recognition more than a few times. For me, page after glorious page delivered a shiny new gem, I not only identified with, but heard myself telling in my own voice. It’s almost as if she crawled inside my head and dipped her pen into the inkwell of my brain. I’ve read hundreds of books in my 41 years, and I can honestly say this is the very first time that every single word my eyes fell upon resonated so deeply I cried…at the sheer realization that someone ‘really gets me’. Funny that it’s a virtual stranger, huh? But really, she’s not. If you look closely enough, parts of her are inside all of us, and to quote another Monkee mantra: We Belong To Each Other.

So there.

Anyway, I could gush like Old Faithful, going on forever, because when I’m passionate about something…I can’t shut up. But I’ll save you from that, and simply make a suggestion with a promise:

Read the book. You will not be sorry.

Oh, and when you do…because I have faith in at least your curiosity getting the best of you and compelling you to follow my advice…here are some of MY favorite essays from the book (in no particular order):

Unwind

Lucky Seven

In Case of Emergency

A Mountain I’m Willing to Die On

Don’t Carpe Diem

Transcendentalist

On Profanity

Every essay in the last section of the book, appropriately titled “Letting Go” 

Now, to make this easier for you, I’m allowed to give away ONE COPY of Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed  to a very lucky winner, compliments of TLC Book Tours and Scribner Books. So here are the rules. Pay close attention, because there will be a couple of hoops to jump through to qualify:

1. You must go over to my Facebook page and ‘Like’ it.

2. You must leave a comment there that says either, “Love Wins, We Can Do Hard Things, or We Belong to Each Other”. Of course, feel free to comment here too…but just to show me some love 🙂

The contest will close on Friday, April 5th at 12am, PST. From the official entries on The Calibamamom FB Page, a winner will be chosen at random, announced here and there,  and notified via email, within a few days of the closing of the contest. 

TLC Book Tours

TLC Book Tours

 

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Dedicated to the writers/bloggers of tomorrow…

oops.THAT Word.

 

To be fair, it was only the ‘ess-word’.  I mean, it’s not like I flashed the EFF or SEE words. And it was a total accident that, of course, caused an eruption of hearty laughter….in Sugar Bean’s 7th grade, Advanced English class last Thursday.

You see, after Sugar Bean oh so proudly told her teacher that I write a blog, she began following, and then asked me to come and speak about the benefits of good grammar skills in everyday life, the advantages of having an English degree, and the blessing that came from writing my thoughts down right here and having them turn into a job. That pays. A little 🙂

Anyway, I was delighted to go in and speak to the students. I’ve never been asked to do such a thing. Of course, that could be because I’ve only had a blog for a little over a year, and it’s hardly proper for the under 12 crowd, don’t ya think? So I prepared ahead of time, decided the key points to talk about, and then chose 3 posts to read aloud. Sugar Bean helped in the selection process. If you would like to read the selected posts. They are here, here and here. I had planned to read this one also, but got completely flustered after “Cold Turkey” popped up onscreen while I was searching for “Good Morning, Radio Listeners”. (wtf is that about?) I had all the selected posts pulled up in different tabs on my laptop, so I could easily navigate from piece to piece, but God decided to laugh at my technical preparedness, and throw me out of sync. In other words, I couldn’t project the screen of my laptop onto the wall of the classroom. Not for lack of trying though! Luckily, my blog isn’t blocked on the school’s server (although I’d throw down a heavy bet in Vegas it is now) and we were able to use Mrs.W’s computer. Short on time, and not really remembering how to open a new window on a PC, I decided the best way to find each post quickly was to simply search. BAD IDEA. After reading the first post, I typed in the keywords for the next one into the SEARCH BOX, and was taken to a post accompanied by an image with a caption containing the ‘ESS’ word. Oh, and the background was bright yellow, as not to be missed.  Of course, the projector was working very well that day.  GO ME, right? 

Fortunately, the class was only exposed to it long enough to read it, and react with roars of laughter. Once I realized it was there, I scrolled down and pulled it from view. Then I scrolled back up by accident 2 or 3 more times, inciting more hysterics. So, I’m oh for three now.

Oh well. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Or at least that’s what Mama always said 🙂

All in all, it was a very good day. I never lost their attention, and believe they genuinely enjoyed what I had to say. The word on the street is they told Sugar Bean I was pretty, and thought I was younger than I am. That’s ALWAYS a plus! They may have even learned a thing or two, who knows? A couple of the students had questions, and although I didn’t have time to discuss them in class, I want to now.

The first question is: “Do you blog everyday?” 

The obvious answer to this is NO. However, I do write everyday. I keep a journal in my purse, and I am constantly jotting things down in it for publication later. At any given moment, my brain has 8 gazillion thoughts running through it and it’s necessary to record the ones that shine. Or else they will be gone forever…lol. I want to blog everyday, eventually. But honestly, if I put down ALL my thoughts and adventures here….someone would show up at my door and fit me for a nice jacket and room with padded walls. So I’ll just stick to publishing the important stuff. For now. 

The other question is: “Do you want to write a book one day?” 

OMG, yes. That’s a dream of mine, and honestly, I didn’t know it was a dream until I started writing. That’s years down the road though…I think. I’ve got so much more living and learning and storytelling left to do, right here on this blog before I have enough to make a whole book worth reading. As I discussed with the class, my soul-sister whom I’ve never met (but will very soon), Glennon Doyle Melton–the genius behind Momastery–has written a book. Due for release  to the public on April 2nd. In a magical moment 2 weeks ago, I was contacted by TLC Book Tours about posting a review of her book, Carry On, Warrior, here on my blog. After I peed my pants, I enthusiastically accepted. The book arrived a few days ago….

It's REALLY here!

It’s REALLY here!

And I’m reading it…right now.

Thanks again, to Mrs.W, for making me feel like a ROCKSTAR by asking me to visit my Sugar Bean’s class. And thanks to the class for laughing at the inappropriate image your eyes were drawn to. That totally turned the day into a post 🙂

 

 

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