I Read Christian Books – and I’m Jewish

blue-like-jazz-book-coverSome of my favorite books are “Christian”-themed books. This wouldn’t be especially odd, except for the fact that I am Jewish. I went to religious day school for 9 years, so it’s pretty well-ingrained, too. Donald Miller’s classic Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality is one of my all-time favorites; however, not only does he mention God, he mentions Jesus. Quite often. How does this work, you might ask? For myself, I often substitute “God” for Jesus when I read Miller’s books. This works for me.

I recently picked up a memoir, initially because of its “Southernness.” (I’m a sucker for all things Southern.) The book, Home is Where my People Are by Sophie Hudson, first captured my attention with its cute hand-drawn illustrations of sweet tea and fried chicken. (I’m also a sucker for sweet tea and good BBQ.) But when I read the back of the book and it mentioned God, I realized this is some Southern, religious-infused storytelling. But I wasn’t deterred. She tells the story of growing up and going to church, and being brought up in a religious house. She still goes to church and talks about this in the book. I’m not bothered by this. I’m intrigued by it and fascinated by the way others grow up with their religions. Another Christian book, this one by Rob Bell, is called Drops Like Stars: A Few Thoughts on Creativity and Suffering. I loved it — and again, I substituted “God” for Jesus. Not everyone will agree with me on that. This was a more serious book, one for when things don’t go quite as planned.

In this day and age, where religion can be used as a tool for ignorance or hatred, it can be tricky to share your love of books with religious undertones. Especially if they’re books that aren’t related to your own religion. Writing this post, I’m not sure how it will be received. But for me, I’ve taken what I can from the ones I have read, and made them work for me. I never went into reading these books to learn more about religion. When I’ve read them, it’s more about life in general, and getting through difficult times. I don’t have an answer as to why I didn’t choose books from Judaism. I’m not super religious, and again, it was never theology-based. I can’t explain what drew me to these books in the first place, nor can I explain why I keep coming back to them. I think there is something in the searching.

Do you ever find yourself reading a genre you don’t quite fit into, or made a genre work for you that other people found odd?

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