Thursday, June 03, 2010

Book Review: Untameable Heart by Sara Wheat

Earlier this year, I heard Sara Wheat interviewed on the The Nick and Josh podcast. She answered questions about her faith and the new book she had written and self-published: Untameable Heart: Confessions of an Emergent Christ-Follower. Her winsome personality and humble spirit were refreshing as she spoke about her life experiences and the process of writing her book.

Having taught college for five years and worked as a campus pastor on the University of Minnesota campus for fifteen years, I'm a sucker for a young adult faith story. I love young people and I like to encourage them in creative endeavors. So I hopped online, bought her book on Amazon, and became a fan of her Facebook page.

Untameable Heart isn't exactly a memoir, but it leans heavily toward being one, and that's when the book is at its best. To tell you the truth, I'm not convinced Sara really is "an emergent Christ-follower," and it would not surprise me to learn one day (perhaps even now) that she regrets having labeled herself as such. That being said, she is most definitely someone who is openly and humbly allowing the
"emergent conversation" to challenge and deconstruct the version of Christianity she grew up with.

To understand the questions that shape the emergent mindset, you'd be better off reading Doug Pagitt's A Christianity Worth Believing or Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christianity. But if you'd like to get a front row seat of what it looks like to see a young Midwestern woman's evangelical fundamentalist background pulled apart by honest questions, Untameable Heart is a book worth reading.

While Sara rightly questions the naive certainty and legalism of her childhood old-time religion, I'm not sure she has yet learned to rightly question her new-found emergent ideas. I have no doubt that she will eventually. Her untameable heart will discover soon enough that the new pat answers aren't really any better than the old pat answers, and then she'll be able to simply savor the questions and live in the mystery.

Sara is so likeable and her writing style is unpretentious and exuberant. She strikes me as someone I would enjoy having as a friend. I'm glad she is telling her story and hope she will continue to tell it as it grows and matures. It's a story sure to unfold in wild and wonderful ways as she follows Christ, learns to wear his name alone, and casts all other labels aside.

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