Book Review: The Grace Effect

I started to write this book review on February 29. Today is April 3. My life is moving fast. Yours is too, which is why you are looking for books now that you will read this summer on vacation…right? Or sitting in your backyard while the kids play in the sprinkler. Or, like I did, while you nurse a baby round the clock for a day or two. That’s how long it took me to devour this book. Two days. And I’d just had a baby. That isn’t saying something about me or my reading skills. It is absolutely saying something about the book.

My friend, Neil, was going on and on about the book right around the time Greer was due. Honestly, I wasn’t really listening that closely to his book description, probably because he was focused on the big picture part of it. That part, which Neil should probably write about because he was STOKED about this information, has a bunch to do with a guy named Larry Taunton. The name wasn’t familiar to me at all, most likely because his Wiki description begins like this: is an American author, columnist, and cultural commentator based out of Birmingham, Alabama who serves as the Executive Director of Fixed Point Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the public defense of the Christian faith.

And then there is this: Taunton has personally engaged some of the most outspoken opponents of Christianity, including Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Peter Singer. His often controversial and outspoken beliefs led to his dismissal from The Altamont School, an independent college preparatory school in Birmingham, Alabama. In 2007, he organized “The God Delusion Debate,” on the merits of Dawkins’ arguments against Christianity as set forth in his bestselling book, The God Delusion. The discussion was heard by over a million people worldwide. In 2008, he chaired a follow-up debate at the University of Oxford. In addition to producing several Fixed Point films, Larry, along with his team, launched LookUp316.com in February 2011, a project that displayed the message of John 3:16 before a Super Bowl audience. He has been a guest on a variety of television and radio shows, and has been quoted by the New York Times and Vanity Fair, among other newspapers and magazines.

I don’t know about you, but I’m just not that interested in the debates about Christianity and atheism. Not in the giant lecture hall, people boo-ing or cheering ideas and asking questions trying to stump people. It just all winds up feeling like posturing or at least like a Fox News/MSNBC panel and I stopped watching those a long time ago. The shouting just got too annoying. I’m tired of listening to people from opposing sides yell. When no one is listening, what’s the point of speaking, ya know?

Which is why a book by this guy seemed like something I would politely take and ‘read,’ ahem, skim and then return to said friend.

But then he gave me the book.

And I started reading.

And I couldn’t put it down.

Because it isn’t just a book about how one side is wrong and another side isn’t. It’s not that at all. And the title, though appropriate, just doesn’t cut it for me either. I would’ve never picked this book off the shelf based on just the title. It sounds like something I already know, something that’s been done before or at least a little tired. Of course, I don’t have an alternate title or anything, so that’s very convenient of me to pick on the current one. But, it’s true. Also true is that the book is fantastic.

It begins with the author’s very personal conversations with an atheist (see, doesn’t sound all that exciting) but it quickly moves to his personal story of adoption. So many friends have and are adopting. We are committed to adopting too. Not right now, per se, but sometime. Eventually. When we are sure it is the right time and this was a story of a family with that same mentality – when the time was right. And then it was. And the child was right. And the foreign country…well, what can you say about a place that hasn’t been touched by the common grace of Christian influence? You could write a book about it.

And Mr. Taunton did just that. He wrote a book and I cried and laughed and was painfully moved toward gratitude. I find myself caring just a bit more about the impact Christianity has on the whole and much more ready to read a book by a man who debates with people. I think you might be too.

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