Monday, March 7, 2011

Scouting the Divine: My Search for God in Wine, Wool and Wild Honey
by Margaret Feinberg

Author Website:

Available in hardback and Kindle format. Zondervan, 2009; ISBN: 0310291224; 224 pages.
The author also has a 6-week DVD series and coordinating workbooks for small group discussions.

You've likely heard of Margaret Feinberg before. She has been named in a few prominent lists: "30 Emerging Voices" that will shape the next generation of Christians and "40 Under 40" who will shape Christian publishing, among others, I'm sure. She is the author of Organic God and The Sacred Echo.

Scouting the Divine is her most recently published book. It records her journey to discover the depths of meaning behind specific visuals in Scripture. We all know Jesus is the Great Shepherd, but what does that really mean? If we've never been around sheep or their caregivers, how can we fully understand? The author spent time with actual sheep and their shepherdess. She learned hands-on about wine and honey and farms. In this book she shares what she learned and how that tangible knowledge affects her understanding of Scripture.

When I first started reading this book, I felt it was redundant. How many pastors have stood behind pulpits and told us why the shepherd analogy makes sense or how Jesus' parables would have been received in His day? But the more I read, the more engrossed I became with these too-often simplified concepts. The author used every one of the five senses to put flesh on these parallels. Culturally we can be so far removed, but with her research and well-written help, we can see, touch, feel even taste and smell what the Scriptures really mean.

In the end, I enjoyed the book and do recommend it. Yes, parts may feel like she's stating the obvious, but most of it offers gems of comprehension sparkling with personal application.

One complaint (which has more to do with the publisher than the author or content): I didn't like the layout. The publisher chose block formatting rather than the traditional indented paragraph. This made me feel rushed, as if I were scanning an email rather than melting into a book. Also, the publisher often employed digits to section off the chapters rather than subtitles. It looked and felt like newly released software (2.3, etc.). Again, this made me feel rushed and disconnected to the content.

Final Thoughts: An interesting, insightful read, but not a must-have.

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