Sunday, September 19, 2010

Finding God in the Everyday

Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life by Karina Lumbert Fabian & Deacon Steven Lumbert, Tribute Books, 2010.

Long ago I read a book written by a well known Catholic convert* who said that one of the things that most surprised him about becoming a Catholic was that everyday life had become suffused with the supernatural, and that the supernatural was now everyday.

Being a sacramental religion, Catholicism does use ordinary, physical things -- oil, water, bread, wine, the marital embrace -- as conduits for God's life giving grace. And simple, tangible items, such as a humble string of beads or two bits of cloth joined by a cord, can actually become a powerful spiritual weapon or a protective shield. Tempted by demons, guarded by angels, and given an occasional assist by the saints, ordinary life is a deceptively disguised battle-field adventure that rivals any fantasy or science fiction epic.

The problem is, it can look so ordinary. God may whap a few of us upside the head with a spiritual two by four, but the vast majority of us will only come to a radical conversion of mind, heart, and spirit through the small, everyday choices we make in classroom, kitchen, or cubicle.

This idea is the major thrust of Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life. This is not a book about figuring out what to believe -- though both authors had to do that at different points in their lives. (Deacon Steven Lumbert is a convert; Karina Fabian is a cradle Catholic who made a full commitment to the Faith as an adult. ) Instead it's about how God led them to a deeper faith through seemingly ordinary incidents in their everyday lives.

Writing alternate chapters, Lumbert and Fabian recount personal stories with elements as disparate as a Puerto Rican chicken and rice dish, a barefoot stranger at Mass, an unexpected flower delivery, an incense-triggered acid reflux attack, and an armed auto thief who couldn't manage to get his gun out of his pocket. Each is followed by a "Life Lesson" meditating on what the author brought away from the experience, how it contributed to his or her relationship with God, and the possible application it might have to the reader's own life. (I could particularly identify with Fabian's chapter about her disorganized approach to housekeeping and how it paralleled her spiritual life. I have so done that deranged drill sergeant thing to my own kids during the rush to clear things up before guests arrive!)

A related scriptural quotation and an extract from the Catholic Catechism rounds off each chapter. And at the end of the book is a list of resources for further reading which may also be seen here. In the mood for a sample? You can read an excerpt of Chapter 2 on the sidebar of this page.

By the way, Karina Fabian is also the author of Magic, Mensa & Mayhem a fantasy novel about Vern, a dragon detective, and his partner Sister Grace, a high mage of the Faerie Catholic Church, as they shepherd a Faerie contingent to a Mensa convention in the mundane world. Fabian is also the editor of and a contributor to Leaps of Faith, an anthology of Christian science fiction and Infinite Space, Infinite God, a collection of Catholic science fiction stories. (Having read all three of these is what made me interested in reviewing Why God Matters.)

[Disclosure: The publisher sent me a free PDF copy of this book.]

*And my middle-aged brain can't remember his name.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recco! I ordered the fantasy--looks like great fun.


Karina Fabian said...

Thanks so much for the review! I love how you summed up the book.

Sherwood, if you want an autographed bookplate, please contact me via my website, I'm glad to send you one autographed by Vern, too.

Tribute Books said...

Mary - what a great mental image you created with:

"Tempted by demons, guarded by angels, and given an occasional assist by the saints, ordinary life is a deceptively disguised battle-field adventure that rivals any fantasy or science fiction epic."


I like how the main focus of your review is that while yes, life may be ordinary, when combined with faith - it is anything but. What a perfect correlation to 'Why God Matters.'

Thanks for sharing the book with your blog readers.

Best wishes,
Tribute Books

Tribute Books said...

Sherwood - after reading one of Karina's terrific fantasies, I also encourage you to add 'Why God Matters' to your to-read list.