The Sky Beneath My Feet by Lisa Samson tells the tale of Beth’s sort of midlife crisis when her husband, Rick, a “Men’s Pastor” locks himself into a shed in their back yard for some serious prayer and a fast from his family with only a few groceries and some serious theological works for company. To be honest, I chose this book only because I wanted to read fiction and it didn’t have an Amish woman or some other virginal looking young beauty on its cover. I thought that it might be a bit “touchy feely blech” but instead I was treated to a snappy bit of satire on America’s consumer driven version of Christianity told from none other than the first person viewpoint of the pastor’s wife. This book actually made me laugh out loud, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished by any fiction author since I read Doug Wilson’s Evangellyfish last year.
Beth notes that as her church got bigger “its name was sliced smaller and smaller. For the past eighteen months, we’ve been The Community”(Loc 1098). Beth also wonders why The Community is “having trouble raising twenty grand for the Habitat house we’re cosponsoring with our sister church downtown when the parking lot on Sunday mornings is clogged with Mercedes and BMWs and Volvo SUVs, not to mention several Jaguars?” (Loc 232). The author doesn’t shy away from topics that are usually considered taboo for Christian fiction (unless of course, the character repented of them at least a decade or more ago and says so, in print): drug use, alcoholism, loneliness in marriage and a pregnancy out of wedlock are all here. The character of Mother Zaccheus nearly steals the show when she issues Beth a slap of grace of sorts in a halfway house.
It’s a great many layered work that’s a breath of fresh air. The only downside, as with any satirical work, is that it will feel dated in the future, given its many references to current social networks and electronic gadgets. I also found that some of Beth’s “confessions” appearing like so (Confession:) broke up the pace and at times felt a bit jarring. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Samson’s work in the future and I encourage you to add this book to your “must read” list.
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