Amen? Questions for a God I Hope Exists
A Book Review
By: Brandon Brown
In Dostoevsky's novel The Idiot Prince Myshkin (the one called the Idiot) makes the comment "beauty will save the world." I believe this is how the Church can fulfill her mission in the world of the twenty-first century; by telling beautiful stories and leaning into the beauty available in faith in God. That is why I am drawn to books and art being created by so many whose faith is deepened beyond certitude. Books and art that present beauty amidst the mess and joy of life and reveal faith within the complexities of human existence.
Julia Rocchi has created a beautiful work of prose, poetry, and prayers in Amen? Questions for a God I Hope Exists. In her introduction, Rocchi tells us; "the book you’re holding is about: the urge to cultivate a mature and examined relationship with a God we might never fully understand or know. Through essays, reflections, poems, and prayers, I have attempted to transmute my doubt into curiosity and punctuate my faith with question marks." She has accomplished this and more. Reading the book allows a look into life in its multitudinous emotions and experiences. You can feel the growth and change through many seasons of life and the connectedness of human relationships.
Through the "essays, reflections, poems, and prayers," I believe that Rocchi's use of the question mark is an invitation rather than a challenge. For in the contents of Amen? I see a human being who has a deep faith because she has trust. Trust in who we can be as a species and who we can be when we embrace beauty and love. In this book, I see the truth that faith is more than belief or doubt; faith is trust that "beauty will save the world" and beauty will save our relationships and ourselves.
In a story which could come from Amen? , if not for an icebreaker at a NTEN (nonprofit technology) conference many years ago, I probably would not have heard of this book. Amongst a table of millennials, this gen-x guy noticed everyone was noting the Twitter handles on our nametags (Twitter was fairly new). I copied them and followed or followed back once I had access to my laptop. Because of that table, I followed some blogs and have occasionally seen tweets from those earliest of follows. It was my Twitter feed which revealed this book which intrigued me, and I am glad I pre-ordered and have read it. You will be glad if you read this as well. It is a book brimming with faith, hope, and love expressed in lament, joy, sorrow, happiness, the extraordinary, and the mundane.