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Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?: A Mennonite Finds Faith, Meets Mr. Right, and Solves Her Lady Problems Hardcover – October 2, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In her highly anticipated follow-up to her New York Times best-selling memoir, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress (2009), Janzen shares her realization that love is not always what one envisions as she recounts her experiences falling in love, fighting cancer, and working out her newfound faith. Janzen is candid about her struggles, but she never expresses self-pity. Instead, she holds her bald head high, continuing to be fabulous even during chemo treatments. She had a great life before she found her husband, Mitch, and his strange breed of Christianity, but her life becomes even better with him, despite very real challenges. Janzen reveals why in a hilarious account of the small details that make a life. From friendship rings to ugly wallpaper and thrift stores, Janzen pokes fun at things ripe for humor even as she gently reveals what matters most to her. Though her journey leads to a specific form of Christianity, readers from all backgrounds will be inspired by Janzen’s tale of love and faith told with her trademark wit and honesty. --Carolyn Richard --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Review

Praise for Does This Church Make Me Look Fat?:


"Breezy despite the weighty subject matter... Janzen's wit and love of fashion keep things light, but her conversion to Pentecostalism after a miraculous return to health sends the book into serious seekers' territory."―People (Three Stars)

"A hilarious account of the small details that make a life. . . Readers from all backgrounds will be inspired by Janzen's tale of love and faith told with her trademark wit and honesty."―Booklist

"Janzen is the kind of writer-world-weary yet incredulous; girlfriend-esque and conversational-that draws you along through a story with ease...[Does This Church Make Me Look Fat] would fit naturally on a shelf, say, next to your collection of beat-up Anne Lamott paperbacks. It has that same sort of accessibility to it; that same sort of acceptance."―Charity Vogel, The Buffalo News

"Given the gravity of the subjects-cancer and religious conversion-Janzen gave herself an enormous challenge. Could she maintain her hallmark comic voice in the midst of suffering and transformation? The answer is yes, and that is no small accomplishment... The excitement of discovery is palpable in this book."

Shirley Hershey Showalter, Christian Century

"Smart and witty.... Janzen has a remarkable ability to demystify religion through humor and humanity."―Susanne Jaffe, The Columbus Dispatch

"Amazingly light-hearted... [Janzen] is not so much proselytizing for her particular religion as she is pointing toward the value of examining one's own beliefs, whatever they might be, and finding a way to live with them in joy."―Colette Bancroft, Tampa Bay Times

"A delight for fans of [Janzen's] warm, wisecracking style.... Her enthusiasm and spirit and knack for finding humor in the God details make this book a crowd-pleaser."―Hannah Sampson, The Miami Herald

"A very funny writer. . . . A heartfelt memoir that is both hilarious and inspiring."―Great Day Houston

"[A] vibrant, charming narrative."―Publishers Weekly

"Does This Church Make Me Look Fat? made me laugh out loud, often enough to make my beloved children inquire as to whether I was losing my mind. Too much spiritual writing these days claims that religious practice is about healing or developing the self. But Rhoda Janzen avoids this theme: here she sets out on a path to become more loving, grateful, and helpful to others. This is particularly impressive given that she's writing about a period in her life when she's got a scary, life-threatening illness, and a brand-new family. Bravo, Rhoda-or rather, 'Thank God!'"―Kate Braestrup, author of Here if You Need Me and Beginner's Grace

"Rhoda Janzen is one of the few people I trust to write about faith without using God to clobber me. She writes about the most serious things in the world-life, death, family, love-with such spot-on honesty, spiritual humility, and disarming humor that I would follow her anywhere. The nicest thing I can say about her new book is that it made me want to be a better person. It is that good."―Barbara Brown Taylor, author of An Altar in the World and Leaving Church

"Paul Shaffer, the noted theologian/TV sidekick, once said that if God is the ultimate being, he must have the ultimate sense of humor. To which I add, Rhoda Janzen is not far behind. This is one funny book. Not to mention thought-provoking and touching."―AJ Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically

Praise for Mennonite in a Little Black Dress:

"It is rare that I literally laugh out loud while reading, but Rhoda Janzen's voice--singular, deadpan, sharp-witted and honest--slayed me."―Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

"I loved this book, and Rhoda Janzen. She is a terrific, pithy, beautiful writer, a reliable, sympathetic narrator and a fantastically good sport."―Kate Christensen, The New York Times Book Review

"Hilarious and touching."―People (four stars)

"A hilarious collection of musings on Janzen's childhood, marriage, and eccentric family... Janzen mines Mennonite culture for comic effect, but she does so with love."
Entertainment Weekly
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145550288X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455502882
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #614,696 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rhoda Janzen holds a PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was the University of California Poet Laureate in 1994 and 1997. She is the author of Babel's Stair, a collection of poems, and her poems have also appeared in Poetry, The Yale Review, The Gettysburg Review, and The Southern Review. She teaches English and creative writing at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Belleville Belle on October 12, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rhoda Janzen isn't the only lapsed Menno rebel in the world. My guess is there are plenty of us out there, and it has been healing for me to read Rhoda's stories. I devoured "Mennonite in a Little Black Dress," hooting all the way, even though those West Coast Mennonites lacked the angst and ire of the East Coast version that raised me. Like Janzen, I'd walked away from church when the Mennonite version failed to hold me. Fortunately, God has ways of reclaiming those who will turn His way. It's refreshing to read a transparent faith journey that doesn't seem cliched or just too tidy to be real. By the end of book one, I was praying for Rhoda to find faith. Amid all the laughs, I heard familiar pain. You can see the pain melt away in the pages of book two as she finds the love and community we all want. I'll read anything she writes.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By rev bs on November 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
i'm a minister, so I could not resist a book with this title. Janzen has some intriguing topics here and a voice that is clear. Her use of upper crust literation gets a tad tiresome. From time to time I felt like she wanted us to know how bright she is. Made me wonder how she was attracted to a blue collar man with a not-so-great grasp on the English language. Real life issues, though--kept me interested to the end.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Helen W. on October 29, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is unfortunate that the author published the book under a different title. I bought the book because I had enjoyed her other two books. This one sounded like the second book. But I thought it was a continuation of her story. Amazon should note that this the same as her book Does This Church Make Me Look Fat. I may not buy her books in the future.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By F. Wilson on October 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was so disappointed to receive this book today and realize it was already published as "Does this Church Make me Look Fat?" Like the reviewer above I now own two copies of this book and I could have used the $9.58 I spent on this book to buy something else on my wish list. I was really looking forward to reading a new memoir by Rhoda Janzen, but this is not it. I will agree with the reviewer above that this book is worth five stars under either title, but not when already owned.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By mesha on October 7, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ms. Janzen's newest book gave me as many laugh-out-loud moments as the last book. Her journey is centered in faith, family, and friends as she deals with a life-threatening illness. While some might be put off with the talk of faith and religion, it is never preachy or judgmental, it is simply her experience. In full disclosure, I grew up in Reedley, California (seriously) where Ms. Janzen's mom procured the large sausage. I was not brought up in the Mennonite church, but married into it all, eventually. While my husband knows some of the author's family, I do not personally know the author or any of her family, nor do we currently live in that area of the country. I highly recommend this book because it is very well written (and edited), you will laugh, reflect, and your vocabulary will increase dramatically. I will be waiting to hear what is next in your life, Ms. Janzen. Loved it!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By pmc on October 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This title was previously published as Does This Church Make Me Look Fat (which is a definite five-star read.) Hate it when they do that. Wish the description for this book mentioned the new title, so I could have avoided two copies of the same book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lothe on April 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover
(Disclosure: I attended the school where Rhoda Janzen teaches. However, I never took her classes and I didn't know her personally.)

Rhoda Janzen grew up in a small Mennonite community, a childhood she chronicled in her earlier memoir, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. An academic from the moment she was able to leave her community, Janzen spent many years as a student of skepticism, well versed in all the ways Christian religion (and the Bible itself!) minimizes women, beggars science, and causes people to believe, say, that giant fish actually swallow up seafaring prophets.

Then she meets Mitch, a former foul-mouthed, gun-toting drug dealer who got cleaned up by Jesus and became as soft-spoken, gentle, and caring a person as anyone could wish for (though he still totes guns). They begin to date, and Janzen is persuaded to go to Mitch's church. It is not the kind of church Janzen grew up in: it's a feel-the-spirit, lay-on-hands, praise-the-Lord Pentecostal church. Janzen is hesitant at first, and--of course--skeptical, but as time goes on and she becomes more absorbed into both the church community and a growing personal faith, she begins to discover a side of life she hasn't seen before. It includes a new spirit of generosity, a freedom from anxiety, and, yes, a few strange coincidences that are difficult to explain.

Easily the most attractive thing about Janzen as a narrator is her willingness to embrace ambiguity. While "Does This Church...?" is, in some sense, a testimony, it is not an altar call. Janzen never presents her experience as normative or final, or insinuate that everyone ought to join a Pentecostal congregation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on October 29, 2013
Format: Paperback
If you read MENNONITE MEETS MR. RIGHT, Rhoda Janzen's latest memoir, in a public place, like Starbucks or the doctor's office, be prepared for the consequences: laughing out loud. A lot.

In her earlier offering, the bestselling MENNONITE IN A LITTLE BLACK DRESS, we learned that Rhoda is an irreverent, intelligent, sarcastic, soul-searching, conflicted, comedic God-person without a congregation to call home. In this sequel, she will find human love with a guy named Mitch, "a Jesus-nail-necklace-wearing manly man, whose hands were so huge they ripped his jeans pockets," an unlikely choice of sweetheart for a cerebral poet/professor. Rhoda fled the restrictive religion of her birth, only to run into the Mack truck of Christian denominations: Mitch's Pentecostal Holiness faith.

On an early "date," Mitch, who has a teenage son, Leroy, and a nephew named Stealth ("after the bomber") takes Rhoda to a healing service at his church, where she is bemused by parishioners being cured of such ailments as "throwing up a lot" and "lady problems." Soon after, she learns that she has a highly invasive form of breast cancer (lady problem) and will need chemo (throwing up a lot). The friendly Pentecostals tell her that God "has her back," and she is anointed with oil by the concerned pastor.

Then follows the saga of her slow-growing love affair with Mitch and her fast-growing cancer. Throughout even the worst days, Mitch insists, "I'm the right man for this," devotedly accompanying her to her grueling chemo sessions and helping her choose a wig, or, in clinical language, a "cranial prosthesis.
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