By Sammi Deem
Any good teacher will tell you that putting pen to paper when you have something to say is the best thing you can do. As a writer, I couldn’t agree more and Ben MacKinnon took the greatest risk by putting his words out there for the world to see when writing Green Bean Spirituality. He used his voice to express his ideas and he gave an opinion, but I have to say his basic idea is a bit flawed.
Once again, it is admirable to use one’s voice to express an idea and Mackinnon put out his first book completely on his own and is working very hard to be a writer. The potential is there, but with his first book, it’s just a bit short of where it could be. The book, in general, takes this journey that begins with a catalytic event at his university with a small child.
From that point on, he begins to describe his idea of canned faith. This is where I start to question his view. He compares such faith to canned green beans. The quality is low, unappealing, and easy. He compares these ideas on the basis that people can’t relate and therefore have surface relationships with God.
In my opinion, faith goes through seasons where our faith may be lacking, and yes, there are dark times, but putting a quality factor on faith seems wrong. Once we are saved, we are always forgiven, always loved, and always protected — even when we don’t feel it.
Romans 8:37-39 reminds us that we are never separate from God and that our faith, though maybe dark and in shadows, is never of low quality.
But Mackinnon brings up what we feel:
Whatever the case may be, it all boils down to one truth we all can agree on: something is very wrong here… We can all agree that this earth seems to strip something from us from the time that we exit the womb to the time we enter the grave. Those who have succeed will tell us we are ultimately better for it, and those who seem to have a knack for losing it all will tell us we shouldn’t fight any more [sic]. ” (pg. 15)
Then, he goes on to describe how we respond to that. First, he describes reactions implicitly through canned faith, and then explicitly by describing factions of sin that vary from how we view God to our actions.
He goes on to describe God as a modern-day businessman with all the latest toys who has time for everyone but him. Their encounter takes place at Panera Bread, and their conversation consists of him trying to talk to God. This exchange was, in my opinion, a deeply sorrowful view of God.
Mackinnon spends so much time in his book being upset about how he feels, and he spends a lot of time being openly guilty. His honesty and remorse is raw and riveting. He has to understand, however, that when writing for an audience, especially one reading about the character of God and the aspects of faith, he must explain what true faith is. This is something that I feel lacking in the book.
Green Bean Spirituality is the great first effort of an aspiring young writer dealing with issues of angst and faith, but it is a hard read. It is hard, because it stirs you. It challenges you to consider your own faith. Mackinnon has great potential and I look forward to reading his next book.
Read Ben’s blog: Someday Published.
Sammi is 18. She goes to Taylor University and is majoring in Christian Educational Ministries and minoring in Entrepreneurship. She hopes to one day open her own Community Center that focuses on helping people find community to meet their needs.