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Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
My favorite Margaret Feinberg so far. Margaret's passion for God's Word is contagious. Her insights and candid transparency kindle in me a desire to dig deeper into the treasures of the Bible. As Margaret shared her adventures with a shepherdess, I felt the loving care of the Great Shepherd in a new, fresh way. Listening to her descriptions of tractors and canning tomatoes, I was reminded of the importance of persistence and attention in my spiritual walk. I think her time with the bee keeper was my favorite, reminding me that God has a unique purpose for me that benefits His kingdom. Oh, wait, maybe her time in the Vineyards of Nappa Valley was my favorite, reminding me of the importance of abiding in the True Vine and taking time to rest and observe Sabbath. Then there was the bonus of hearing that she has partnered with Lifeway to publish a 6 week Bible Study based on the book.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I like the idea behind this book, a sort of participatory journalism in search of spiritual insights. The author visits a shepherd, a farmer, a beekeeper and a vintner in order to study passages of the Bible that are more meaningful in agrarian societies than to our urban and suburbanized communities. (I think she should have taken a fifth trip to see a commercial fisherman.)

The text is driven by dialog as much as narrative, so the author gives the reader a "you-are-there" kind of experience. I appreciate that she allows her subjects to lead her discussions and suggest spiritual insights, rather than try to force them to adhere to a proscribed set of answers that she wants to convey.

I gave the book a middling rating, though, because the author's golly-gee-whiz tone got on my nerves. She gets all giggly about driving a "ginormous" tractor and gushes about skinning tomatoes in a canning session. We also get cringe-inducing conversations with her husband: "Leif, what am I doing?" I asked. "You're being Margaret," he answered with a smile. "And I love that about you." The woman is an author, a teacher and a professional speaker. Why she would want to come off as a ditzy teenager? I would take her more seriously if she sounded more mature.

The insights Ms. Feinberg arrives at are worth considering, especially what she learns about the meaning of giving our "first fruits" to God. But when she attempts to apply them to her own life, too often they sound trite -- and sometimes puzzling -- for being too general. For example, what does she mean when she says "all too often I find myself in a rush, even wanting to do things to hasten the end of days." It sounds like she's trying to bring on the Second Coming. Surely that can't be the case.

Still, I do appreciate a book written from a Christian perspective that is not preachy and predictable. And, in this day when pastors and authors who never say anything specific about the Bible, God or faith are so popular, I applaud a person who is willing to write about faith in a way that is not only relevant, but gives you something to think about. That's becoming all too rare, unfortunately.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2009
At a time when many faith based books are watered down with broad brush stroke references to scripture, Ms. Feinberg rolls up her sleeves and digs in until she reaches eye level with the scriptures she uncovers in this book.
For many of us lay readers, such as myself, we have come to expect theocratic or feel good modern translations of scripture. It is refreshing to get a look at them from the eyes of one who spent time with the people and natural surroundings from which they drew inspiration.
This book has reinvigorated my desire for scriptural study by making it accessible and clear without having my MDiv degree. I appreciated her experiences with the various farmers and keepers who ,through modest work, exhibit Godly talents. Especially since the people she sought were not groomed nor their lives "glammed" up to be preachy or self indulgent.
Exactly the qualities Ms. Feinberg has demonstrated time and again and just the reason I scout her books when they hit the shelf. This book will satsfy the neophyte, advanced and non Christian reader alike.
Bottom line: well worth the read!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2009
It's hard to believe that it's taken this long for someone to pursue and investigate the most used metaphors in Scripture. But, thanks to Margaret Feinberg for seeking out "her own adventures" and spending quality time with a shepherdess, farmer, bee-keeper, and vintner to bring new light to biblical stories. Through Margaret's friends and friends-of-friends, she was able to find details about GOD'S creation that I never would've dreamed. After reading "Scouting the Divine" I realized that GOD wasn't giving us neat stories to interpret and make clever analogies to attract more people. GOD was giving us real examples of the way nature works, and stories about the way life is.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
About three years ago I had the privilege of meeting Margaret Feinberg and her husband Leif. After meeting her I started to read her books. First, Organic God and then Sacred Echo. Loved them both. I know, for sure, I've give away over 25 copies of Organic God to people. So, I'm a fan. I think Margaret is an important voice in today's world.

A few weeks ago I picked up Scouting the Divine and I want to highly recommend it. Here's why. Margaret loves God. She's real. She understands people. She writes really well. Her stuff helps grow a mature Christian and is accessible to those who are just 'looking around'. Scouting the Divine has Margaret and Leif traveling to visit people who do all those interesting things people in the Bible did. Margaret met a shepherdess in Oregon, walked the fields with a Nebraska farmer, picked grapes in the wine country of California, and hung up with a Colorado bee keeper. Margaret calls Scouting the Divine "an intentional search for spiritual things that can be touched, tasted, heard, seen, smelled and savored." She's hoping that we'll be inspired to 'scout for the divine' in our own lives.

Now here's what's cool about this book. After reading it the Bible comes alive in fresh ways. That's always good. But you also walk away with a deeper appreciation for the lives of those who do ordinary things well and with deep heart conviction. You end up with this intense appreciation for the people Margaret and Leif met and a sense of thankfulness for the work they do. There were some real 'God moments' for me in every chapter.

I'll read this book again. Probably use it with a small group.

Pick it up. Buy a few extra copies. You'll want to give them away to friends.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2009
Scouting the Divine was a tremendous book!

Margaret's writing encouraged, challenged, and inspired me. It was eye opening to follow stories of a shepherd, farmer, beekeeper, and vintner in light of the verses in the Bible that speak of God and His works in such a manner.

To read about and from people who work in areas that the Bible talks about - where I have no background and have limited knowledge - gave me a clearer understanding of who God is and what He is doing.

I agree with Margaret's words she wrote regarding one of the people she had spent time with: it was "adding a new layer of depth to stories I had read many times before."

Whether you read or have read the Bible very much or you haven't spent time reading the Bible, Margaret communicates in a manner which is understandable and enables one to a gain a clearer understanding of what the Scriptures are seeking to communicate to us.

I have been walking through a challenging time in my own life, but I have known - and have been wonderfully reminded through this book - of God's love, care, protection, and purposes for my life.

Scouting the Divine is a book I highly recommend.

Thank you Margaret!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Home Run and a MUST Read!!! I finished "reading " the book (audio) version and all I can say is that I was SO sad that it was finished!! As I drove around the freeways of southern California I soaked in every word and sometimes replayed thoughts of Margaret over and over to really "hear" her heart on issues. Her research in Scouting the Divine made so much of scripture come ALIVE .... growing up on a Ranch, having 4-H lambs (Sampson and KoKo) and farming alfalfa and hay fields during the summer ... I SO related to some of the stories!(Although anyone could relate and glean so very much ... of any background!) I have already numerous times shared some of the vineyard stories Margaret cited in her book in my Coaching business and women's ministry to hurting women. This is a great resource in many ways. As I said, HOME RUN on the book! Thank you thank you thank you for another Life Transforming book which brings Scripture alive at a new level!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Scouting the Divine (my search for God in wine, wool, and wild honey), describes her effort to look "for those ordinary and extraordinary moments when God intersects our world" with visits to a shepherd, a beekeeper, a farmer, and a vintner to uncover deeper and more sensory meanings to the Bible's frequent references to these vocations. She says, in the book's early pages, that these were "an intentional search for ways to move from reading the Bible to entering stories that can be touched, tasted, heard, seen, smelled, and savored."

She delivers on that promise, describing her search in a series of conversations that offer interesting insights and sometimes impactful applications of an agrarian way of life with which we have mostly lost contact. Her eye (and ear and nose) for detail often enlivens the experiences she describes, if at times the descriptions go on a bit too long for this reader's taste.

Among my favorite portions was her exchange with farmers Aaron and Joe, speaking of John the Baptist's allusion to the coming Messiah who would gather the wheat into the barn but burn up the tares:

Joe piped in, "you can't tell wheat from tares just by looking at it. You have to grab, squeeze, and crush it to find out whether it's real or not. I think that's true of the spiritual life. Some people can look really good on the outside--they can seem more mature or look like they really know their Bible--but when it comes to the pressures of life and getting crushes, that's when the fruit really shows."
And again, when discussing with a Napa Valley vintner Jesus' reference in John 15 to the Father as a vinedresser who prunes the branches:

"It's the little cuts that are the most important," he explained. "You can't come in with a pair of shears and clip like crazy. You don't just look at what appears to be a dead branch and cut it off, and then look at a branch full of fruit and think it's fine. Over the course of pruning, you make a series of very precise, strategic cuts that will produce the healthiest, most robust vines."

"Which highlights just how intimately God is involved in our lives," I interjected.

"And also how God handles each of us differently," Kristof explained.

He explained that if a vinedresser chooses the wrong cuts, the vine won't produce fruit. That's why a vinedresser looks at each vine carefully. Every vine is unique. Even two vines planted next to each other may require significantly different pruning in order to produce fruit.

"One vine may have great soil and be strong enough to handle a significant pruning, but the next vine may be weaker, and the same pruning would leave it fruitless," he explained.

"Which may be one of the reasons Jesus chose to describe his father as vinedresser [and not owner of the vineyard]," I offered. "He's the only one who can make those judgments."

Scouting the Divine earns a place among such fine books as Phillip Keller's A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 and A Gardener Looks at the Fruits of the Spirit and Bishop K. C. Pillai's Light Through an Eastern Window in providing enlightening context to some of the Bible's most important figures.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2009
Sometimes when we're reading scripture it can be difficult to relate to. Sometimes it feels like it was written about and for people who live on a completely different planet who have ways of life that are similar to those on this planet but still not completely cohesive with the things we know.

The Bible is a beautiful book with wonderful adventures but it's also a book full of themes and motifs that few really understand. The truth of Scripture transcends time and culture while there's also something in the details that gets lost in translation. Our reactions vary; sometimes we'll try to find a way to make a confusing bit perfectly reasonable by twisting and shaping until all sacredness has been compromised. If you're like me, you have a tendency to skip over and on to portions that make more obvious sense. It can seem like the ancient scriptures will never be reconciled to modernity. But it's not all hopeless.

Margaret Feinberg has a passion for the Word of God. Her personal ambition has come to our benefit in Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey (Zondervan, October 2009). Dissatisfied with reading the Bible through the lens of her own experiences and hopeful book knowledge, Feinberg embarked upon a decade-long quest to step inside some of scripture's most prevalent themes. Starting at the home of a shepherdess in Oregon, she tackles a sampler platter of lifestyles and scripture themes and walks away from the table satisfied. She writes about it in a friendly and fluid style that makes the reader feel like the lucky tag-along sharing marvels at God's obvious and still intimate glory in some of the country's most seemingly arbitrary places.

The main concern of Scouting focuses on how various perspectives can shape or even completely change the way that Scripture is interpreted. A shepherdess has a different point of view on the Twenty-Third Psalm than does, say, an interior designer. A farmer would naturally have an inclination towards different peculiarities than a city slicker when it comes to the parables that Jesus told about farming.

The thing that makes Scouting different from all of the historical research texts out there is the way that Feinberg brings the information to the table. She does the legwork that would be impossible for most any one else. On top of that, she found her information in places that are both modern and completely cohesive with the average American's lifestyle because any of these people could potentially be as close as a weekend road-trip. She delivers the information to the page in a way that is never boring. We're seeing Margaret's heart as it is developing in these new places with these new people and experiences. Every line displays the texture of real life.

Feinberg tells her non-fiction story, at certain points, in the vein of a novel. While the writing is descriptive and touching--it can occasionally come across as fictionalized. To a certain point, this writing style has a way of attacking Feinberg's own credibility.

Margaret Feinberg's strengths, however, are overwhelming. She has a way of painting scripture and old-hat Bible stories in vivid and relevant tones. She is passionate about her subject and wants to spread that passion around on our account. She gives us a glimpse into the heart of God; one of compassion and adoration for all of his creation, one that seeks to communicate with that creation in legitimate ways.

The great thing about Scouting is that this book isn't one that encourages the reader to join on the road. Scouting takes the reader to places without even asking. Margaret grabs your hand and brings you along on these journeys through the United States as well as through the development of her own heart and mind as they are stretched and expanded in new and inconceivable ways.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2009
Reading the Bible can be hard; rather understanding what the Bible says can be hard. There are so many obstacles to fully comprehending what we are reading. The Bible was translated into English but sometimes translating the words from Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek loses the meaning of the words. The Bible was written at a time when moral and cultural standards of living were vastly different than the ways we live our lives today. And then there is the metaphor. The Bible was written to a group of people that understood the various metaphors used throughout the scriptures. If the Paul would have written his epistles with football or baseball metaphors I would have been able to pick up quicker the message he was trying to communicate. If the parables of Jesus talked about computers or traffic on the freeway I would have had a deeper clarity of the stories.

But the Bible requires us to do a little bit of digging. We get a deeper understanding when we learn what the moral and cultural standards were. We understand more clearly when we know that there were different words for love in Greek but only one word in English. And what does it mean to be a sheep or a shepherd? What does a harvest look like? What is a land of milk and honey? Where does wine come from?

I have just completed Margaret Feinberg's book "Scouting the Divine." Margaret explores the language used in the Bible by visiting people who still raise sheep, farm, grow grapes and keep bees. Through her interactions with these people she gets a better comprehension of the stories found in the Bible. Margaret asks great questions and shares some amazing answers.

For me a land of milk and honey would be found in the grocery store that I manage or shop. If the milk box is stocked it is full and all the jars of honey can be found on aisle four.

Margaret shares her encounters in a series of chapters that allow us to listen in on the conversation. It is easy for us to be drawn into the setting and hear the voices and sounds surrounding her. We know what a lamb looks like and are pulled into the compassion she shares as a shepherdess calls her flock. We get a better understanding of a missing lamb. We learn that this a dirty but rewarding profession. Rather for the shepherdess is a way of life.

But Margaret does not just look at the metaphor for clarity she also looks for clarity on the message on how it should shape the ways we live. Even though she gets answers it leaves her, and the reader with more questions. What does it mean to give first fruits? What are my first fruits? Why allow the poor to glean? How should I look at the poor? How does pruning make us more fruitful? Why does it have to hurt?

I appreciate this book and know that it will be a gift that I share with many people.
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