Monday, July 2, 2007

Divine Nobodies - Jim Palmer

A number or years ago I started reading a series of books called Chicken Soup for the Soul. Over those years those books took a variety of routes that ended up developing quite a franchise. As much as I enjoy the books, I have to admit, I consider them not much more than “fluff.” Fluff is a term I use for something that is fun, but not a lot of meat or substance. It is like comparing an ice-cream cone to a Banana Split. Of course one realizes there are times in ones life that fluff sustains and provides all you need to get through the moment.

What happens when one needs more than fluff, more than an ice-cream cone, or for that matter, more than ice-cream? There are times we need the basics, things like meat and potatoes with healthy vegetables, a cold glass of sweet tea, and a batch of grandmas’ banana pudding for desert. Usually with those types of meals comes not only a full belly, but a great time with family and friends, a time where we know we have garnished more than a snack, a meal, or a desert. We know we have garnished an experience that will last for a long time.

In the last year I have gotten to know Jim Palmer through our MySpace friendship. I knew Jim to be a brilliant author who has a way of describing deep theological truths in the simplest of ways. In his writings Jim often uses a photograph and a couple of sentences that gets the reader to think about something often deep, and always spiritual.

Jim recently sent me a copy of his book Divine Nobodies published by the W Publishing Group. What I found was a book that would use the form of Chicken Soup for the Soul, but instead of fluff would provide something special. Using short stories Jim has weaved together a series of stories that reminds us all, it is in the observation of those often considered Divine Nobodies that we can find God. In fact the subtitle of Divine Nobodies is Shedding Religion to Find God, (and the unlikely people who help you).

Divine Nobodies is hard to put down, it is a book that if contemplating the deep spiritual truths interwoven among the stories, will lead each reader to a place where they will discover God in ways they hadn’t expected. It is a book for those with no spiritual leanings; they may be able to understand for the first time, the difference between a religion and a relationship with God. Jim Palmer makes it uniquely clear; there is a difference. Once one sees the difference, I can’t help but think people will be drawn closer to God than ever before.

Jim Palmer has received great reviews by people such as Brian McLaren author of The Secret Message of Jesus and an individual many consider a leader in the Emergent Church Movement. Many would consider Palmer among those leaders. I must comment here, one of the negatives I have heard from some Christians is the specific concept that the Emergent Church denies the need for Jesus and the Bible. I found this to be quite the opposite while reading Divine Nobodies. My personal observation is that some need to reconsider their negative opinions of at least towards many within the Emergent Movement. Divine Nobodies is filled with illustrations of Jesus life, his examples, the need to follow his teachings as well as Scripture that supports a relationship with Jesus. It is done in a non threatening way, not compromising the person or message of Christ. While many will say this is a book primarily for Christians, it is also a book that effectively shows non Christians the person of Jesus in a new and unique way.

I have to admit, not since Chicken Soup for the Soul has a book brought out the variety of emotions Divine Nobodies did. I laughed, I cried, I prayed, I contemplated. I went through just about every range of emotion one can go through while reading this. I’ll read it again and likely again. There aren’t many of those books that exist. It is so good I am considering buying a batch to give to people searching for God. In my own travels I have run into so many who would have benefited from the stories in Divine Nobodies.

From a disc jockey to a mechanic, from a priest to a little girl and a father in a photograph in a library book, Jim Palmer tells us short stories of people who have touched him and helped shed religion to find God. Palmer has found a way to let those very people who inspired him bring the reader closer to God, it is what makes Divine Nobodies so unique and so beautiful.

I normally do ratings for the movies I review, but choose to not do that for books for a variety of reasons. What I will say is this; do you ever feel ordinary and like you need a purpose? Do you ever look to find examples of Jesus so you can understand what faith and God is all about? If so, I strongly recommend this book. Then again, if you want fluff, I also encourage you to get Divine Nobodies, not because it is fluff, but because it gets you thinking you are going to the soda shop for an ice-cream, but leaving well satisfied with a three scoop banana split. Divine Nobodies is a rarity. One you will have a hard time putting down, one you will be glad you read.

Just a note, be on the look out over the next couple of days with an interview between myself and author Jim Palmer.

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