The End of Youngblood Johnson by Aaron Johnson

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

The End of Youngblood Johnson by Aaron Johnson with Jamie Buckingham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Immediately I felt the rush in my stomach. I knew I had killed myself. I tried to get up but could not move. Youngblood Johnson was dying.

For someone who doesn’t read a ton of memoirs, it’s almost strange how engrossed I get whenever I read this one from the 1970s, The End of Youngblood Johnson by Aaron Johnson (as told to Jamie Buckingham.) I’ve read the book three times now.

I mean, if it were a movie, it might be one I’d personally pass on watching. Heroin addiction is absolutely no joke, and Johnson’s earlier life as a junkie wasn’t any joke either. Add in some broken families, poverty, violence, pimps and prostitutes, crooked preachers, crooked cops, jail time–and you’ve got anything but a pleasant, feel-good story on your hands.

Yet, this is a real story. A story of faith that someone actually lived. And, no, the memoir isn’t exactly a pretty one, but life isn’t always pretty.

I don’t read books that seem messy for the sake of mess, books that go into salacious or gory details apparently just to shock my senses. But there are a lot of people who won’t know or imagine just how far redemption can reach if redeemed folks gloss over or remain silent about the dark places they’ve been redeemed from.

So, no, this isn’t a book for the faint of heart. It’s a tragic but ultimately touching and memorable account of one man’s passage from darkness into light.

 

How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living by The Babylon Bee

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. WaterBrook & Multnomah provided me with a complimentary copy of this book, for which I’ve given an honest review.

How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living by The Babylon Bee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

I’d never heard of The Babylon Bee until a little earlier this year, and I had no particular inclination to read How to Be a Perfect Christian: Your Comprehensive Guide to Flawless Spiritual Living. As much as I like to laugh, I’m not one who goes out of my way looking for satire.

But when the publisher unexpectedly sent me a copy, I figured, hey, why not take a look?

And, then, the book got me within the first few pages, letting me know how Christian culture can lead me to be “transformed day by day into the radiant image of the modern American Jesus.”

Hello. Sounds like a goal. Especially if He’s the Son of a Father “who sits on a cloud somewhere…and is suspicious of non-Americans and people with brown skin.”

Uh huh.

Now, do I totally agree with the attitude of the Bee at every point in this comprehensive guide? Nah. I think some of the Bee’s blanket jokes might overlook how issues like manipulation and abuse are very real problems in too many churches (what’s making folks feel horrible at church isn’t always holy conviction), and for a lot of people, matters of social justice aren’t merely “politics,” or concepts to debate. They’re real matters of life and death.

Still, I doubt the point of a book like this is to make you agree with all of it. Satire is supposed to make you think. Sometimes humor that’s unafraid to tackle what others are reluctant to speak up about can help you take a serious second look at something in life or society (or Christian culture) that’s backward or off. Not to simply laugh about it, or not to only be offended, but to really stop and think about it.

If you don’t seriously think, you can’t seriously grow.

Make no mistake, though. I did heartily crack up while reading this thing. And the conclusion is, well, beautiful, I must say.

 

I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith Under Fire by Melba Pattillo Beals

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. Revell provided me with a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith Under Fire by Melba Pattillo Beals

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Despite the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court ruling against it, racial segregation in public schools was still prevalent in Little Rock, Arkansas for years afterward. In 1957, nine African American students were chosen to integrate the city’s all-white Central High School. Those students became known as the Little Rock Nine. One of their number, author Melba Pattillo Beals, recounts this matter and more in her memoir, I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith Under Fire.

As the title indicates, this isn’t just an account contained within the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s, but it spans much more of the author’s lifetime and experiences. Even so, issues of prejudice and equal (or unequal) rights, including gender inequality, appear frequently throughout this story of adversity, faith, and perseverance.

This isn’t a book about detached, historical “figures” but about people. It’s not a testimony of immediate victories for social justice, or complete accord within the black community. Beals wasn’t even always sure she was doing the right thing by being a part of integration.

The author makes interesting points, including how racism isn’t merely about donning conspicuous white hoods or blatantly calling black people “niggers.” Subtle racism is just as vicious, and also treacherous, particularly when it’s institutionalized or otherwise trickier to call out and combat. Still, one of my biggest takeaways from the book is that when it comes to injustice and other challenges, you have to know when it’s time to hold your peace and simply keep on living, and when it’s time to speak up and fight.

Again, this book is about much more than racism and civil rights, but I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in social justice, Christian memoirs, or both.

 

Take a Look: Christian Book Heaven

There’s a place to get curated ebook deals for Christian books:
Christian Book Heaven!
You can sign up to receive emails for free and discounted books and new releases. Visit the site to subscribe and pick your genres here.
(That’s a referral link, and, yes, I myself am a subscriber to Christian Book Heaven. 🙂 )

Website Logo Silver