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This Littler Light: Some Thoughts on NOT Changing the World Paperback – November 1, 2013
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''Religious people sometimes worry what might happen if people knew the truth about them. But the deepest truth of the gospel is that light shines in our darkness--even the littlest light. Jesse DeConto is shining the gospel light in the humble truth of this story that doesn't hide the mess, but trusts that grace is bigger than it.''
--Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of ''Strangers at My Door''
''Readers are invited to share Jesse James DeConto's poignant exit out of religion. Whether you've walked in his tight churchy shoes, or if you've been offended by those who have, this well-written, at times laugh-out-loud narrative will delight readers. DeConto's creative telling illumines a deeply moving passage from the shadows of religion into light and life.''
--Margot Starbuck, author of ''Small Things With Great Love''
''What is most striking about this memoir is its incredible vulnerability. Jesse James DeConto is a storyteller with great openness of heart and a willingness to take risks for the sake of experiencing love and discovering truth.''
--Damon McGraw, Executive Research Fellow, National Institute for Newman Studies
''Jesse James DeConto fights his way from the prison-house of self-righteousness to find that our infinite God cannot be made to conform to the simple precepts and formulas we impose. His fascinating journey tells the story of how a passionate desire to follow the teachings of Jesus inevitably leads away from the closed circuit of literalism and towards embracing the radical otherness of the Divine.''
--Vincent Rocchio, film scholar and founding member of the Ekklesia Project
''This is the story of a remarkable young Christian's journey from youthful poverty and conservatism, through stages alternating between the charming and the deeply painful, to a sensitive and engaged maturity. It is recounted in a compelling, sparse prose, studded with delightful anecdotes, and braced with sheer honesty. Driving the narrative throughout is the underlying movement of a profoundly reflective and insightful person struggling forward to seek out the agenda of an unexpected God. Entertaining, moving, and challenging by turns: this book is all these important things, and more.''
-Douglas A. Campbell, Duke Divinity School --Wipf and Stock Publishers
About the Author
Jesse James DeConto is a writer and musician. He has degrees in philosophy from Cedarville College, journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill, and Christian studies from Duke Divinity School. He spent eleven years with newspapers in Ohio, New Hampshire, and North Carolina. He is a contributing editor at Prism magazine, writes regularly in The Christian Century, and performs with his indie pop band The Pinkerton Raid. He lives in Durham with his wife and two daughters.
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Top customer reviews
DeConto acknowledges what we all know as Christians. Doubts are part of being true believers. We don't have to be Roaring Lambs. But DeConto has succeeded in this... 'we all have the voices to say something, and even we "bleating" lambs need to know we're hitting the right notes every now and then."'
What an honest and refreshing read!
With deep gratitude for the journey,
As a Christian struggling to find my place in the American church, I found DeConto's story compelling and personally meaningful. His path has been very, very different from mine, which made the stories all the more important for me to read. This is a fantastic read for anyone who has struggled to follow conscience without severing community ties. DeConto's humility helps him to avoid the trap of seeing his individual beliefs as authoritative, while at the same time reaching outside his immediate environment for resources that eventually lead to critique of both himself and the structures around him.
This is a thoughtful book made all the more meaningful by its modest aim. There is no pretense, and in that lack of pretense is the very heart of a vision for discipleship that invites us all to participate in God's Gospel.
But the messiness is not there for the sake of being ogled. It serves a real purpose in Deconto’s story: to illuminate his own brokenness, and to call attention to the grace and community he received from others. The meat of it lies in the very untidy business of finding your way in the world in your twenties. For Deconto, this is filled with religious questions, as well as the more universal problems of the quarter-life crisis, finding home and hearth, profession and calling. One cannot help but feel that Deconto chose calling first and foremost, because no matter what has occurred in his home life, whether marriage or divorce or children or poverty, he has pursued his calling with a singularity of purpose that is admirable and inspiring.
Lewis Lapham said, “…history is the weapon with which we defend the future against the past,” and this certainly feels true of this book. This Littler Light is not prescriptive except in that Deconto is possibly reminding himself how to face his own future. But to outsiders, the dear readers, it is a descriptive journey of a faith made real and personal, the author's growth from one type of person to another, from one faith practice to the next. It is a book about contradictions and synthesis. The gospel of grace versus the gospel of law. The desire for community in the midst of solitary endeavors. To make a difference without making the difference about yourself.