By Jason Berggren (X Media, 2009)
So much for Paul's assertion to the Corinthians that "the greatest of these is love." Jason Berggren openly admits in his debut book, subtitled "Working Through the Frustrations of Faith," that hate isn't what you're supposed to feel, but he's an angry young man and he does anyway. He hates that parts of his faith don't make sense, he hates that faith takes so much work, and he hates that he wouldn't have it any other way.
Perhaps making a negative argument for Christianity seems counterintuitive, but that's what makes 10 Things so appealing. Young people struggling with their faith especially will find Berggren's musings relevant. They'll appreciate his focus on the mundane, everyday challenges of putting that faith into practice.
Some of Berggren's frustrations make complete sense: It is easy to understand hating things such as hell, sin, and rules. But to hate other Christians or prayer or even love? What's not to love about love?
For one thing, Berggren says, "It seems like it shouldn't be so much work, but it is. . . . Love is unnatural that way." And yet that is what makes it all the more lovely and worthwhile. "Life minus love equals zero."
Far from being a raging diatribe against Christianity, as the title suggests, this labor of love is Berggren's attempt to explore what makes him stay faithful to Christ and dedicated to Christianity in spite of it all. For Berggren this hate has become as motivational as love. "We can train our minds to use our hate, and . . . we can create forward momentum: We sense the tension, wrestle with the issue, win the battle, learn a lesson, grow as an individual, and move ahead," he says.
Often Berggren has more questions than answers. He can't explain everything; sometimes he doesn't even try. He is no expert on faith, and he's certainly not holier than thou. He's just trying hard to figure it out, and sometimes he, like all of us, just have to work backwards.