About the Book:
“This book is my Midrash.”
With these words, Father Jim draws us into his life story full of laughter, tears, and service. Among Friends is a compilation of short stories and insightful lessons experienced on his many travels as a clergyman and motivational speaker. Whether recounting his sobering flying experiences, meeting the Pope, his encounter with the “Weed Man” or telling us about his “lead foot,” Father Jim teaches us lessons through powerful storytelling. As he takes us along on his journey from getting kicked out of seminary to hosting celebrities, such as Dolly Parton, Harry Connick Jr., Martin Short, Bill Cosby, and former First Lady Laura Bush, at his small Kentucky parish, Father Jim shines a light into the corners of the human heart to expose our need for God and the love He alone can give us. You will laugh, cry, and be taken back by his honesty. In all, Father Jim shows us what it means to love God, love others, and live life Among Friends.
Fr. Jim suggested reading this book a little at a time and reflecting on each story. I didn't do that, I read it straight through in a couple of nights on the treadmill.
The blurb above mentions that Fr. Jim is a motivational speaker, and that's how this book read. He was engaging, uplifting, motivating, and put enough of himself in the picture so you felt connected, yet I always had the feeling he was giving us a stage persona (not to say that's a bad thing, just that it is an incomplete picture of a person, but then there is no way I'd give a room full of strangers a complete look at me either). Father's stories often hit home. He says they are true and happened to him, but there are a couple I've heard elsewhere, perhaps because someone else stole his material, perhaps because for all we'd like to think our story is unique, it really shares a lot with other,or perhaps because Fr. Jim used a little literary license. What story? The one about the woman who was accused of stealing a car because of the way she acted after a near-miss accident (surely someone with all those religious bumper stickers wouldn't act that ways, therefore the cop assumed she stole the car). There was another one that was familiar too.
I think "motivational" is a good word to describe this book. You aren't going to learn much theology and there are much better devotionals out there, but this book is the perfect "God loves you and wants you to go out and love others" book, the kind of book that reminds you that yes, you can make a difference in a lot of ways,so get going, do it!
I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via Edelweiss. Grade: B.