Friday, December 01, 2017

Damian Chandler • The Crooked Christmas Tree

crooked Christmas Tree book coverThe Crooked Christmas Tree by Damian Chandler is a nice book for seasoned Christians and possibly to help introduce newcomers to God's love and grace for each of us. Each mini-chapter is really really short; you could make this into an Advent season devotional book, follow the author's chronicle of purchasing, definitely not liking, gaining insight into, and then loving the Crooked Christmas Tree his kids chose. Pastor Damian Chandler parallels the less than perfect condition and appearance of the evergreen (not quite ever-eternally verdant, because in the end its needles turn brown) and his attempts to make it acceptable, then finally beautiful, with God's redemption of human sinfulness and our less than attractive traits and habits. I realize this is a very "slim volume," and nothing is comprehensive, but I'd have appreciated more emphasis on God's gracious redemptive activity in Jesus Christ restoring humanity's original Imago Dei (the image of the divine in which God created us) rather than what comes across as original sinfulness and depravity.

Pastor Chandler's interaction with the sex worker (strip teaser?) when he recognizes her vulnerability and essential beauty and then invites her to the revival he'll be preaching is a strong and stunning model for us to follow as it demonstrates one way he followed Jesus' example. And I love how he describes chopping the truly finished-for-Christmas tree into three pieces, taking it to the curb for recycling, and tells us how the tree will get shredded and return to the earth it grew from as mulch to become a life-giving matrix for other trees and vegetation that in turn will help restore life to humanity and the rest of God's natural creation. Jesus of Nazareth on the tree of the cross of Calvary?!

Bringing his three kids and his spouse into the story about the crooked Christmas tree is an excellent device, but I got confused. In the book his kids apparently are very young; they weren't a whole lot older and bigger in Chandler family pictures I found online. Yet the author refers to decorating the tree with years of stored school craft projects! I doubt the kids had gotten much beyond preschool at their ages in the book, not much further in their online photos, so maybe that could be revised? All in all, very well done!

my amazon review: very well done!

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