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The Sacredness of Questioning Everything Paperback – March 29, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Questions make new worlds possible, asserts author Dark (The Gospel According to America), a key premise in this thought-provoking meander of reflections on, and challenges for, living an engaged life of authentic Christianity. The well-read author draws insight and inspiration from a broad range of sources—Shakespeare, Ursula Le Guin, Johnny Cash and James Joyce—in calling into question the status quo, received history and conventional theology. Dark brings to his writing the kind of energy, offbeat enthusiasm and commitment to relevance that must make his high school English classes exciting places for inquiry and exploration. That each page yokes keen observation to practical application with wisdom and compassion inclines the reader to forgive the book's bewildering organization and abstruse section headings. Questions for further conversation at the end of each chapter will be useful for groups eager to put Dark's appeals into action. The author's passion for social justice, clarity about the sacred obligation of taking nothing at face value and confidence that unsettling questions yield rich rewards for both individuals and communities is convincing and moving. (Apr.)
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Review

“Questions make new worlds possible,” asserts author Dark (The Gospel According to America), a key premise in this thought-provoking meander of reflections on, and challenges for, living an engaged life of authentic Christianity. The well-read author draws insight and inspiration from a broad range of sources---Shakespeare, Ursula Le Guin, Johnny Cash and James Joyce---in calling into question the status quo, received history and conventional theology. Dark brings to his writing the kind of energy, offbeat enthusiasm and commitment to relevance that must make his high school English classes exciting places for inquiry and exploration. That each page yokes keen observation to practical application with wisdom and compassion inclines the reader to forgive the book's bewildering organization and abstruse section headings. “Questions for further conversation” at the end of each chapter will be useful for groups eager to put Dark's appeals into action. The author's passion for social justice, clarity about the “sacred obligation” of taking nothing at face value and confidence that unsettling questions yield rich rewards for both individuals and communities is convincing and moving. (Apr.) -- Publisher’s Weekly

Dark wanders through the landscape of theological inquiry with brilliance, taking us into uncharted valleys where questioning, confusion, doubt, and promise intermingle. This book is a call to action, a resounding yell of encouragement, to all types of Christians. -- Christopher R. Smit

David Dark is a brilliant and respected cultural critic, and here, in this new work, he has done something that very few evangelical writers have done: he truly invites us---no, he calls us---to the holy task of thinking all manner of things through, of saying yes and no, of questioning and seeking and discerning what is most true. We need this kind of feisty, literate, and (dare I say it?) prophetic call, and we will be better---as people and as a Christian community and as a culture---if we take up this unsettling and liberating challenge. -- Byron Borger

David Dark is my favorite critic of the people’s culture of America and the Christian faith. He brings a deep sense of reverence to every book he reads, every song he hears, every movie he sees, but it is a discerning reverence---attentive to truth and Jesus wherever he comes on them. He is also a reliable lie detector. And not a dull sentence in the book. -- Eugene Peterson

Brilliant and charming and insightful as always, Dark comforts both my soul and my mind with this synthesis, part memoir and part essay, of the culture around us and the culture within us. -- Phyllis Tickle, , Author

We will never find the answers until we begin to ask the right questions. Most of us are skeptical of self-righteous folks (whether pastors or politicians) who try to force their answers into you as if truth was an enema. And if there is anything we can learn from both liberals and conservatives, it’s that you can have all the right answers and still be mean people. This is not a book of answers. Here is a book of questions---question everything … including this book. -- Shane Claiborne, , Author

In the Sacredness of Questioning Everything, David Dark serves up a unique blend of pop culture and high culture, generously seasoned with religious texts. The result is an immensely readable, profoundly subversive, and deeply prophetic book. -- Andrew Bacevich, , Author

In The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, David Dark travels the lonesome highways of the American soul and finds signs of grace where many of us see only despair. Carry this book with you as a guide through these uncertain times. -- Charles Marsh, , Author

This is what I need: a far-reaching Christianity that’s not just for the Shiny Happy People but for me, questioning and doubting and trying to live into the mystery. I couldn’t ask for a better fellow pilgrim than brainiac David Dark, who feels as comfortable mining The Office and The Colbert Report as he does Dostoevsky and Flannery O’Connor. This book is for everyone who quietly suspects that God is a whole lot bigger than the church would have us believe. -- Jana Riess, , Author
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (March 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310286182
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310286189
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #467,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Adam Ellis VINE VOICE on May 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every once in a while, I encounter a book that breathes life into me by the way it communicates profound truth. The interesting thing is that books like this almost always take me by surprise. Zondervan sent me David Dark's new book, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything, with the request that I review it if I liked it. I had heard of Dark, but had never read anything by him. The title intrigued me, so I opened to the table of contents...which intrigued me all the more:

Table of Contents
1. Never What You Have In Mind--Questioning God
2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being Brainwashed--Questioning Religion
3. Everybody to the Limit--Questioning Our Offendedness
4. Spot the Pervert--Questioning our Passions
5. The Power of the Put-On--Questioning Media
6. The Word, The Line, The Way--Questioning Our Language
7. Survival of the Freshest--Questioning Interpretations
8. The Past Didn't Go Anywhere--Questioning History
9. We Do What We're Told--Questioning Governments
10. Sincerity As Far As The Eye Can See--Questioning the Future
End Note: That Means To Signal a World Without End

That was enough to get me to start reading immediately. Halfway through the first chapter I was hooked. Dark artfully articulates faith in the context of what Lesslie Newbigin calls "A Proper Confidence"...faith that is not (cannot be) the equivalent of certainty...faith that recognizes our finite nature, our tendency to re-craft God in our own images and religion into self-justifying dogma. At times, he seems to be virtually channeling Kierkegaard in the context of 21st century Western culture. Dark offers us a thing of beauty, a life-giving breath of fresh air.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book has been getting a lot of rave reviews lately, so I decided to download it to the Kindle and give it a quick read. It reads very fast as the author is an excellent writer. He weaves cultural images, amusing stories and biblical insight into a fun tale. As much as this may turn off some readers, it comes across as more sermons should. It's honest, prophetic and entertaining. The audience intended are clearly lay people trying to figure out the intersections of faith and life.

One story I enjoyed from the book was a discussion about eternity that started with someone saying that when they die their argument with another individual will finally be over. Dark told this person that when they wake up (i.e. resurrection), they are going to find more people to deal with. He insightfully plays this very true theological insight off Sarte's comment of hell being people and C.S. Lewis' vision of heaven being people. The best in New Testament scholars today, whether NT Wright, Michael Bird or Larry Hurtado are making this same insight from the texts...the revelation of the New Testament is that our eternal future will be one in community with other people and God.

I also enjoyed the call of this book to action. I do not expect readers to remain apathetic about their faith after reading. That's a good thing. I firmly believe that we can love God by/in loving others. The church should become more active and be what Hauerwas has called an alternative to empire's secular ideals. No disagreements here.

So why did I only give the book three stars?

To put things in context, I finished reading Alister McGrath's "The Science of God" last night and as soon as I posted my review, I started this book.
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Format: Paperback
One of the many memorable phrases found a couple of times in David Dark's new book; "The Sacredness of Questioning Everything" is related to the difficulty "to try to want to know what I don't want to know." It is the antithesis of having things figured out and being very comfortable with that that you very much. It's about digging deeper and exploring possibilities that might be foreign, inconvenient or even contrary to that place from which I operate. It is a rigorous exercise in humility and searching.

As the title states this is all about questioning; everything. The book has 10 chapters each a main focus of questioning; God, religion, media, our "offendedness", history and others. Throughout the book questions related to these "topics" are explored. But through each chapter more questions come up and the end of each chapter has even more questions to provoke discussions. This is a healthy and invigorating practice that Dark is encouraging.

I'm not as familiar with some of the literary figures or works he cites. However, in this I was simply introduced to interesting people, music, history or books I have begun to check out for myself. It is easy not to question. It may be a natural tendency to gravitate toward community where similarities are more prevalent than dissent or diversity but it can be unhealthy, self-perpetuating and dangerous. If I cannot question, as Dark gives me opportunity to in his book, what I currently believe about God, religion, history, governments or ideas is it possible I have tipped my hand? Am I really as certain about things as I would like to be? If I take myself so seriously as to think I cannot say "I don't know" without sliding into thinking I cannot know anything, I suffer from some god-complex.
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