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Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find…

Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God (and the unlikely people…

by Jim Palmer

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This is an excellent book! I bought it on the basis of reviews at Amazon - it was recommended based on other books I had read and enjoyed.

It's basically descriptions of random people who have influenced the author's life, beginning with two introductions that outline his unhappy childhood. The various people he introduces in the book - which include a waitress, a dog, a gay friend, an Anglican minister, and his own small daughter - become metaphors for different stages in his life.

Some of these people relate to healing - or at least helping Palmer come to terms with - the many hurts in his past. Others help him see beyond the institutional evangelical right-wing religion in which he became entrapped for a while, and to see instead the reality of Jesus who loves him unconditionally.

The book has been linked with the popular 'Blue Like Jazz'. The theme is perhaps similar, and the writing style informal, although I found it less so (and thus easier to read) than Donald Miller.

I planned to read a chapter per day, and found myself often reading two or more. Sometimes moving, sometimes amusing, mostly thought-provoking. All in all, highly recommended. Anyone with the slightest interest in God would probably benefit from reading this; those currently part of regular church congregations might find themselves thinking afresh about their faith and what it means. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
well this book taught me things I didn't know I didn't know. so often. we live our lives based on our plans and often miss when and what God has planes for us. one major thing I took from this book is I need to be open to listening for God's voice. ( )
  JWarrenBenton | Jan 4, 2016 |
well this book taught me things I didn't know I didn't know. so often. we live our lives based on our plans and often miss when and what God has planes for us. one major thing I took from this book is I need to be open to listening for God's voice. ( )
  JWarrenBenton | Jan 4, 2016 |
A blog I stumbled across mentioned this writer who was self-publishing his latest book because it was turned down as "unorthodox" by his Christian publisher. I thought I'd take a look at his earlier book. I'm glad I did. I won't say it's been life-changing, but it shows engagingly the mismatch between Christian faith and Christian "religion", and how a genuine and positive faith can survive and thrive without the help or hindrance of institutional churches.

After an abusive childhood (mitigated by a few lifesavers such as a pet dog), Palmer moved from token Catholicism to Baptist seminary and pastoral ministry in a large evangelical church. Despite some misgivings (such as an inability to feel ecstatic when everyone else was swaying along to Christian musical pap), his progress towards the stellar heights of megachurch ministry was only abruptly halted when his wife had an affair leading to divorce. This left him selling carpets and household goods, hoping that members of his ex-congregation wouldn't show up in the till queue.

Away from the hypocritical plastic Christianity of the megachurches, and denied that ego-boosting pastoral career, he found that real Christian faith-in-action lurks among real people who listen to hip-hop, vote Democrat, don't read the Bible, and can't go to church anyway because they work Sundays. They are the people who don't say "Lord, Lord", but give a cup of water to a stranger.

I often analyze things by comparison, so I couldn't help spotting the commonalities between Jim Palmer and Adrian Plass (there are depressed Christians, and they need more than happy-clappy worship and Scripture verses; not all "high" church people are agents of Satan). His situation also mirrors that of Simon Parke (who dropped out of church ministry to work in a supermarket). Some of the issues here seem perennially to need attention drawn to them. As Sydney Carter sang a long time ago: "shut the Bible up and show me how / the Christ you talk about is living now".

MB 9-i-2012 ( )
1 vote MyopicBookworm | Jan 9, 2012 |
I have read many Christian books over the years - hundreds. Adrian Plass wrote that they are like Chinese meals - great at the time but you soon feel like you need another one.

But there have been the occasional books that are different. The ones that grab you by the throat, pin you against the wall and mug you of your preconceived ideas about yourself and God. I'm thinking of books like Disciple by Ortiz, Father Heart of God by McClung and Ron Sider's rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. .

This remarkable little book by Jim Palmer comes into this later group.

He was a high profile Christian leader who was caused by circumstances to re-evaluate all that he has done and said. He shares this with an openness and vulnerability that I have rarely read or heard. Don't you have to wear a cape to be a Super Christian who writes books? On this journey he finds Jesus. Not in meetings, right theology or mega churches - but in ordinary people. A waffle waitress, a couple who run a garage, a tyre salesman, a gay friend and others. We soon revisit our own ideas about those we accept or reject and how this contrasts with Christ himself. `In my world there was no such thing as a gay Christian; a greedy, gluttonous, hateful, prideful, selfish, lustful, dishonest, hypocritical, vengeful, callous, slanderous, angry Christian maybe, but not gay.'

He also gives us a fresh insight into leaving the comfort zone. What a clichéd phrase that has become. I have embellished talks with it for years. But it takes on new meaning on a visit with IJM to rescue child prostitutes in south East Asia or when he sees a tyre dealer go several extra miles for a homeless visitor. In the former case his writing comes into its own as he shares with us the drama of the rescue, the revulsion at what is happening and the honest but entirely reasonable questions of God and how He feels about this oppression. `These IJM guys have a slightly different picture of Jesus than most of us do, convinced that if he were bodily present, his boot would have been the first kicking in the door....sure we need to pray for victims of injustice, but has anyone thought of, well, like, rescuing them.'

This is the sort of book which can be read in a couple of hours. But its effect will last far longer. Get it, read it, now! ( )
  stevecornforth | Jan 27, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0849913985, Paperback)

What does a Hip-Hop artist, Waffle House waitress, tire salesman, and disabled girl have to do with discovering spiritual truth? What if embracing authentic Christianity is a journey of unlearning? Welcome to Jim Palmer's world!

Don Miller meets Anne Lamott meets Brian McLaren in this tale of shedding religion and plunging into uncharted depths of knowing God. Jim Palmer, emergent pastor, shares his compelling off-road spiritual journey and the unsuspecting people who became his guides.

"Perhaps God's reason for wanting me," writes Palmer, "is much better than my reason for wanting him. Maybe God's idea of my salvation trumps the version I am too willing to settle for. Seeing I needed a little help to get this, God sent a variety pack of characters to awaken me." For all those hoping there's more to God and Christianity than what they've heard or experienced, each chapter of Divine Nobodies gives the reader permission and freedom to discover it for themselves. Sometimes comical, other times tragic, at times shocking, always honest; Jim Palmer's story offers an inspiring and profound glimpse into life with God beyond institutional church and conventional religion.

"I am tempted to say that Jim Palmer could well be the next Donald Miller, but what they have in common, along with an honest spirituality and extraordinary skill as storytellers, is a unique voice . . . Divine Nobodies is a delight to read, and it was good for my soul to read it."
Author of The Secret Message of Jesus

"You hold in your hands an amazing story of a broken man finding freedom in all the right places-in God's work in the lives of some extraordinarily ordinary people around him. You will thrill to this delightful blend of gut-wrenching honesty and laugh-out-loud hilarity, and in the end you'll find God much closer, the body of Christ far bigger and your own journey far clearer than you ever dreamed."
Author of Authentic Relationships

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:19 -0400)

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