Book Review: Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me

CronTitle: Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me

Author: Ian Morgan Cron

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Page Count: 257

Date: 2011

Conversations on Courage and Faith

[Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for a review on my blog. Go to Booksneeze for more information.]

 I received my copy of this book more than a year ago. In fact, it had been such a long time since I had received the book that I had to go through a rather tedious process of updating my blog in several ways and having my review privileges reinstated by Booksneaze. The reasons for this are numerous, but fairly typical of the economics our current world.

In 2008 I bought my wife and sons a house. We had waited 17.5 years of marriage to do so. In 2009 I was fired/asked to resign from the church where I had been the preacher/pastor for nearly ten years.  A long journey thus ensued and I began the transition from local church ministry to public school special education teacher. Here we are almost 5 years later: churchless, home-ownership-less, and living nowhere near the church that crushed our dream and snuffed out our smoldering wick.

In fact, I have spent a great deal of time over the past 5 years or so questioning if I will ever see a church the same way again–and it's not likely that I will. Old demons were awakened and I have spent a great deal of time over the course of the last five years wondering if the church would ever see me in the same way again. Not likely. Yet I'm hopeful this is a good thing. I am sure we need to change; I am sure I needed to change and awaken to the truth about life outside the pulpit. I am sure I needed to know that I needed to know that Jesus is not someone who is content to merely live in our pockets, but that he is someone who wants and needs to be seen everywhere, that he plays in ten thousand places, and that he can, in fact, swim.

I had never heard of Ian Cron until I received this book. In fact, I'm not even certain why I got this book. The selection choices must have been slim at the time because reading a memoir, even a memoir of sorts, about someone you have never heard of or whose other book you have never read, seems like a rather mystifying task. Who is this guy? Why do I want to read his memoir? Why do I care? Then I read the back cover and see who is endorsing the book. Then I read the first four pages and saw a veritable who's who of authors endorsing the book–people whose theological output is often very off-putting (to me)–and now I'm curious to say the least.

It was more than mere coincidence that this book came to me. Of that I am now convinced.

Then the reading began in earnest and I found myself having a hard time putting it aside. And I'm not just saying that–it is such a boring cliche kind of thing to say when writing a review of a book. Rather, it is because you can't help but to be drawn into the pathos and struggles of a young man–at once being beaten in the middle of the night by a drunken father, or standing in the middle of the woods with his pants around his ankles as bullies mocked him, or gleefully riding a roller coaster with his mother. I usually mark up books with my pen when I'm reading them, but I didn't do so much marking in this book because it was enough to read it. I think this is a book I need to go back and read again, absorb, and allow it to agitate me some more. The first reading, however, was absorbing in a hold your breath kind of way: what could possibly happen next?

He writes about the relationship he had with his father, the church, Jesus–and his mother to whom he dedicated the book. He writes candidly about his struggles with alcohol. He writes frankly about the things that have made him who he is today–someone we are to understand doesn't have it all together, but someone who is willing to press on in the journey in the hope that maybe, just maybe, life is worth redemption after all. This is the story of someone who pressed on despite everything in the world being against him at times.

He is willing to press on and learn wisdom, become a person of faith, and grow in the vocation that God has called him to for now: father, follower, faithful. Which helps me understand why he wrote, "I can't get a refund for the Christmas Eve when Dad fell through the decorated tree, but I can honor the story by telling it, and that is its own reward" (210). This is one of two places I underlined in the book.  It's probably the most perplexing statement in the book, but I think I understand. We cannot always overcome all those things in our childhood that wrecked and broke us and nearly killed us along the way. Sometimes we can scarcely overcome those things as adults. I think what we hope is that somewhere along the we will look back and simply remember, remember without trying to attach any particular meaning.

So here I am now living my own 'memoir of sorts.' I'm  trying and there are times when I want to quit. There are times when I drink too much and have no compulsion to quit. There are times when I want my children to be small and fragile again so that I can take care of them like the overbearing father I have tended to be. Yet I also realize, often unwillingly or unwittingly I don't know which, that life moves forward and that there is nothing I can do to halt in in its tracks. We also have to grapple with the past and awake to its realities and confess it–out loud–to someone, somewhere and at some point. Cron's memoir of sorts is his confession.

This book spoke to me in a 100 ways; it spoke of me in a 100o more. If confession is good for the soul, imagine how much it will do for the flesh.

The only problem I had with this book is that I thought he overused his metaphors. They were fun and witty and I enjoyed most of them, but I thought there were just a few too many.  On the other hand, isn't our life a metaphor? Isn't it about something else? Someone else?

4.5/5 stars–with the note that I wish I hadn't waited so long to read it, but agreeing with the Spirit  that maybe I read it at just the right time after all.

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