by Grady Walton

Xulon, $16.99, 258 pages

How are Christians to respond when someone in church leadership confesses to multiple adulterous affairs? How are Christians to respond when they find themselves condemned by a long-trusted church family? How are Christians to respond when they are faced with conflict, sin, pride, tedium, and humanness within the walls of their own church? Some flee, some circle the wagons in more tightly, and some simply shut down emotionally. Much of it ties back to an overall discontent among Americans and, more specifically, American Christians. Grady Walton writes in Thoughts Escape Me: Perspectives from the Pew: “The spirit of discontent extends to our expectations of the church. We aren’t satisfied with the motif of the church building, the color of the sanctuary walls, the new pastor’s preaching style, the songs chosen by the worship leader, the personality of the youth pastor, the programs and services the church provides, the attitudes of some of the congregants. Without deep personal contentment, it doesn’t matter which church we go to because it will never feel quite right,” Walton argues.

Walton does not suggest that we plant our feet regardless of the sin patterns around us, but that we learn to first seek strength, peace, and contentment in our own faith. If our primary focus in life is the Lord, we will see the discontentment of a secular society and even the sin within a church body with a more eternal, Christ-like view. While Walton’s thesis is admirable and he supports his suppositions well with both biblical references and personal stories, the book could use a rigorous editing to tighten language, solidify ideas, and clean up mechanical errors. That said, much of the American evangelical Christian world would be well-served to listen to what Walton has to say: “The joy of God is expressed everywhere in millions of ways, but people keep walking by, too busy to notice.” What kind of Christians would we be if we all slowed down enough to relocate the Holy Spirit and the truth of Christ’s teachings about love, hope, peace, and joy?

Jennie A. Camp