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Views and opinions: Carter covers new and old territory in a book on religion
 

 

Faith: A Journey for All by Jimmy Carter

c.2018, Simon & Schuster

$25.99/$34.99 Canada

181 pages

Today, you are feeling secure. The world’s woes don’t worry you this day. You know that you’ll want for nothing and everything will turn out for the better, that your every need will be provided for.

You know it will be so because, as in the new book Faith: A Journey for All by Jimmy Carter, you believe.

Starting when he was a small boy, Jimmy Carter has had faith, and it was wide: He had faith in his friends, an integrated bunch that lived in his small hometown. He had faith in his parents, who raised him right. And he had faith in God.

Back then, people weren’t as worldly as they are now and they stayed closer to home. Says Carter, most “contacts with the world beyond our community were limited” and the church was a necessary part of a family’s social life. But now?

“When I look back …” he says, “I can see how startling the changes have been.”

The challenge for believers today, he suggests, is complex. Absolutely, it’s imperative that we seek faith in order to find a “peaceful coexistence” and confront moral dilemmas; and to maintain it, inside and out.

That can lead to a “source of joy and strength,” but it can also launch a journey. Finding faith “is a highly personal and subjective experience” and holding it is equally individual.

It’s that last one that believers may struggle with. We need to remember, as Carter points out, that the answer to prayer isn’t always “yes.” We must strive to recognize other religions, and to reconcile scientific facts with Biblical teachings as we understand them. And, surprisingly, Carter says pacifism is not a “necessary element” of Christianity.

As Carter shows, we can share faith by action, as do the people who inspire him – the founders of Habitat for Humanity, for instance. A driller of wells for those who lack safe water. A physician who works to eradicate tropical disease. And Billy Carter.

“My brother,” says Carter, “was an inspiration to me.”

Fans of author Jimmy Carter’s work, rejoice. What you’ll find inside Faith is what you’d expect because this is one of Carter’s areas of expertise. On the other hand, this book can be a difficult read.

Much of what’s inside Faith has been said before, sometimes in Carter’s own previous works; in many cases, even the repetition is repeated, or ideas are phrased differently in the same paragraph. Readers may also notice circle-talk that just goes round and round and round, and a good amount of fluff that’s seemingly without point.

And yet – as he touches upon the tenets of faith that include one’s fellow man, Carter comments on current events and politics-as-unusual. That leads to scattered-here-and-there surprises, in which a Jimmy Carter we might barely know peeks between the lines.

This skinny book’s appeal will rightfully be wide, but be aware that this challenge for readers may also be a challenge to read. If you don’t think that’ll bother you, then Faith is a book to secure.

 

Terri Schlichenmeyer has been reading since she was three years old and never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 14,000 books.

4/10/2018