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Cross Examined: An Unconventional Spiritual Journey Paperback – December 9, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

After graduating from MIT in 1980, Bob Seidensticker designed digital hardware, about which he wrote his first book, The Well-Tempered Digital Design (Addison-Wesley, 1986). He has programmed in a dozen computer languages and in environments ranging from punch cards, to one of the first windowing environments, to MS-DOS, to Windows (starting with version 1.0). He is a co-contributor to 14 software patents and has worked at a number of technology companies from a 10-person startup to Microsoft and IBM.

Since leaving Microsoft, he has focused on writing. Future Hype: The Myths of Technology Change (Berrett-Koehler, 2006) explored technology change—how we see it and how it really works. Cross Examined is his first novel.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 9, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1468011332
  • ISBN-13: 978-1468011333
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,670,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

After graduating from MIT in 1980, Bob designed digital hardware, about which he wrote his first book, "The Well-Tempered Digital Design" (Addison-Wesley, 1986). He has programmed in a dozen computer languages and in environments ranging from punch cards, to one of the first windowing environments, to MS-DOS, to Windows (starting with version 1.0).

Bob is a co-contributor to 14 software patents and has worked at a number of technology companies from a 10-person startup to Microsoft and IBM.

Since leaving Microsoft, Bob has focused on writing. "Future Hype: The Myths of Technology Change" (Berrett-Koehler, 2006) explored technology change--how we see it and how it really works.

"Cross Examined: An Unconventional Spiritual Journey" is his first novel.

Bob lives in the Seattle area with his wife Sandy and dog Wheezer.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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This is a pretty good story. It's also propaganda, but there is nothing wrong with that, especially if one knows from the start that this is what it's going to be. The meat is in the atheist-theist argumentation, but the plot does manage to hold its own and is interesting.

It's not the case that the book is set up as a fair, two-way dialog or debate, despite what several other reviewers have said. Nor do I think that most Christians will find it very appealing unless they are already searching for alternatives (or have never thought much about the issue). Rather, the book is more of a morality play with the protagonist an honest seeker who courageously moves from theism to atheism under the tutelage of a wise, atheist father figure, and the villain a grasping, despicable preacher who uses religion more than he lives by it--all stereotyped. Hence we can hardly say that the stage is set for a fair dialog.

The arguments themselves are, of course, slanted toward the atheist viewpoint as well. The interplay would have been more convincing if the theistic side was presented more strongly, but then it may not be possible to develop the nuances of a fair debate while still keeping the story alive.

All that is not to say that it's not a good book. It is good. Just don't think it's an attempt to explore a complex struggle between faith and doubt.
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Format: Paperback
The narrative of Cross Examined offers conventions of plot: a half-hearted love story, uncertain identity, mounting tension between rival mentors, a young man facing traumatic past and uncertain future.

Yet the plot, and the characters themselves, are little more than a framework for the interplay of ideas. Between two formal debates that frame the action, young protagonist Paul shuttles between pastor and recluse, rebutting arguments from one, gathering ammunition from the other, an almost featureless pawn in the battle of belief.

The story suffers, but the ideas suffer as well. Arguments both for and against belief are flattened, misrepresented, treated as little more than markers in a competitive game that resembles poker more than chess: "I'll meet your ontological arguments and raise you one Pascal's wager."

The novel introduces arguments for and against the existence of God, the truth of scripture, the possibility of miracle, but in a way that seems heavily weighted toward the author's own assumptions. Those who represent Christian belief (a bombastic, dishonest minister, a paternalistic priest, a flat, authoritarian father) appear slightly dim-witted, while atheist Jim is the voice of reason.

Jim tells Paul: "faith is immune to facts. . . And that's the biggest clue that Christianity is false: it's built on faith. Believing something because it's reasonable and rational requires no faith at all." In the intellectual chess game Seidensticker has constructed, facts and logic are the highest values, sweeping all opposition from their path.

At the same time, there's an odd undercurrent to the novel's slight narrative.

Jim lives in such a place of distrust he is unable to leave his home.
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Format: Paperback
Since the beginning of Christianity, people have debated whether god exists.

Written in the form of a novel, "Cross Examined" takes us through many of the arguments that people have used as proof that god does or does not exist. In the end, "faith" is a critical part of religion.

I liked the story, and even more, liked the way Seidensticker moves through the arguments so they can be enjoyed in the same leisure way as a novel.

Disclaimer: I have known the author for a number of years and read different drafts of the novel.
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Cross Examined: An unconventional spiritual journey by Bob Seidensticker

Cross Examined takes a closer look at the relationship between faith and arguments against Christianity through the lens of a story. The novel centers around Paul, a man who was taken off the streets into the ministry with Samuel, the senior pastor of The First Church of God in San Francisco. All the while this is happening, Paul's fiancee is trapped in the ruins of the earthquake that has just taken place (set in 1906). The charismatic pastor, Samuel, is known for both his prophetic utterances but also his debating of serious issues every year at his own apologetics conference. The tale unfolds as Samuel sends Paul out to minister to a man named Jim, who had been holed up in his house for almost twenty years, bearing the pain of a lost love. Little does he know, Paul is stepping into the house of a man armed with the intellectual rigor to argue against Christianity but also one who knows Samuel.

I appreciated the way that Jim interacted with Paul in the book to refine his arguments for Christianity or find some better ones. At one part in the story, Jim engages the question of how the oral message of the gospels was transmitted by saying, "When I corrected your story just now, I was reading from a book - that's our authority. There was no book when the Jesus story was oral tradition. When two people's memories, whose was right"? (68-69). Paul has to hone his arguments in here at this point to really point out how oral tradition works, because Jim is quick to point out the holes in his argument. I like the back and forth of the argumentation in the story that pushes the believer to strengthen the argument for belief so it is logical and watertight.
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