Friday, June 25, 2010

(Read & Eventually Win) STUFF CHRISTIANS LIKE--An Irreverent Tongue-In Cheek Serious Look at Faith, Church, & Being Christian...

... in a World Where Joel Osteen Barely Coexists with Ernest Angley and Mega Churches with Country One-rooms

I knew I had a winner to review when:

1) I read the two paragraphs of the intro to friends and already Jonathan had us giggling and recognizing--unfortunately--our American Christian culture:

If you buy this book, God will make you rich.
I was going to say, "If you read this book," but I'm pretty sure people who get it at the library
won't receive the same amount of awesomeness as people who buy it.

2) Some of our other friends sat around and read aloud the titles from Stuff Christians Like, while we all guffawed.

3) Our household religious critic and self-proclaimed skeptic, a 25-year-old male, pilfered the book from the kitchen and I had to insist he return it long enough for me to get this post out.

With essay titles like "Sending More Hate Mail Than Satanists" and "Waiting Until a Co-worker Is Away from His Desk to Drop off Some Christian Propaganda," I've smiled my way through the book. But the messages are clear, as Acuff pokes subtle fun at himself and the rest of the Churched. Agnostics and Atheists will laugh along, as all the things they ever suspected us believers of thinking, saying, or doing are revealed in these pages.

If you don't want to be convicted about hypocrisy, impatience, lack of discipline, laziness, judgmental attitudes, misplaced zeal, Christian infighting, and other common sins of regular Christians, don't read this book. Wrapped in Jonathan's blunt humor, the convicting parts sneak up on you.

You can eventually win this book--hey, my son and I have to fight over it first--about which I will post details later.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

SCARS & STILETTOS: Harmony Shakes off the Dust of Her Former Life

Any self-respecting Christian woman would hesitate to stop at a strip club to write and leave on the employees' cars postcards telling exotic dancers they are loved and inviting them to church. Much less Harmony Dust. At the very club where she used to perform. After all, it's taken her years to learn that God cares about her and has a better plan for her life. To brush this close to the old ways of viewing herself and of meeting her financial and emotional needs makes Harmony shudder. She too once did not value herself enough to let go of an unhealthy relationship or to hold on to her modesty. She didn't know before what she knows now--that God's love and power are enough to see her through any crisis.

Scars and Stilettos shares in the form of Harmony's story the message that, in God's eyes, we are all worth saving. From the distant relationship with her career-minded father who lived across the country to the unstable relationships with her mother and her childhood friend who became her unfaithful live-in boyfriend, Harmony traces the choices she made, the consequences of those choices, and finally, the redemption of her choices.

For Harmony, disappointment, especially in people, has been a way of life. Parents. Her long-time love, Derrick. A professor whose opinion she trusted. Through a chance meeting, she makes a new friend who shows her a hope that doesn't disappoint.

Seeing the sex trade industry through Harmony's eyes enabled me to envision how easy it is to believe that a few weeks or months of involvement will not turn into an extended lifestyle. How easy it becomes after a few times to do things never before considered as a way of making money, because the bills go unpaid and no one will step in to help. How easy it is to feel so desperate about losing someone when there is no other way to love or be loved. And when a way out appears, how her One True Love leads Harmony back to the place she so longed to escape. Who else can understand the trapped, shamed life like someone who's been there?

Harmony relays her story with passion and compassion--passion for the Lord Who gave her a chance and a reason to change, and compassion for any women who believe they're not worthy of love and respect, especially those locked into the stripper's lonely life. Who should read this book? Anyone who's given up hope--of changing, of being accepted, of finding a reason to go on. And anyone who knows people who need hope.

Fear of being abandoned keeps nineteen-year-old Harmony Dust trapped in an abusive and cruel relationship. She thinks she has hit bottom-tens of thousands of dollars in debt, struggling to get by, and so controlled by her boyfriend that she doesn't protest when he begins openly sleeping around. Things can't get worse . . . until someone tells her how much money she can make as an exotic dancer. For the next three years, Harmony lives a double life as Monique, a dancer in a fully-nude strip club.

Scars and Stilettos is Harmony's stark, honest, and ultimately hopeful story of how God found her in that dark, noisy place and led her out. She has since married, completed an MA in social welfare, and now leads Treasures, an organization helping women in the sex trade discover their true worth. "Harmony wrote her story so that you and your friends may get help out of whatever dark tunnel you find yourself in. . . . once you start this book, you will not be able to put it down and you will want to get a copy for every person you know." --Holly Wagner, from the preface


Harmony Dust is founder of Treasures, a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles that reaches out to women in the sex industry to show them they are loved, valued, and purposed. Find out more about Treasures, Harmony, and her book at or Check out Harmony's Press Page for magazine articles and videos about her work with women in the sex-trade industry.

This reviewer received a free copy of the book, which will be given away in a random drawing to a commenter on this post.