A Review of
|Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide?
(Cause I Need More Room for My Plasma TV)By Karen Spears Zacharias
Hardback: Zondervan, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]
Reviewed by Michelle Van Loon.
Sing it with me: They will know we are Christians by our stuff, success, and status.
Isn’t that how the song goes?
We know the Bible says a whole bunch of uncomfortable stuff about denying oneself, picking up the cross and suffering for the gospel. This message is a hard sell in our culture. (Come to think of it, it’s been a hard sell in most every culture.) But, here in America as Karen Spears Zacharias notes in Will Jesus Buy Me A Double-Wide?, “…there are a lot of folks prancing around treating the Bible like an algebra book and God like their personal banker. They figure if they can do the equation just right, they’ll earn God’s approval and he’ll hand over the keys to the great vault of heaven. Then the abundant life mentioned in John 10:10 will finally be theirs.”
This greedy thinking is not the sole domain of shiny televangelists, notes Zacharias. It is deeply rooted in churches of all theological stripes and polka dots. She uses her reporter’s skill and her unique, Southern-fried writer’s voice to tell stories, 19 short chapters’ worth. The stories are meant to illustrate both the problems with prosperity thinking and to crank open our imaginations to the “follow Me” life to which Jesus is calling us.
Few of the people Zacharias profiles are famous, unless you count Patricia Barnes, better known as the Sister Schubert of homemade frozen roll renown. Most are people like The Marine, a guy who slowly backed away from his shiny, upwardly-mobile existence in order to live with the homeless in Memphis with the desire to simply provide practical help: sitting with one friend in the hospital ER, hooking up another friend with a pair of steel-toed boots in order to snag a better paying day labor job.
Reflecting on The Marine’s way of life, she writes, “A lot of us want to help the poor on our own terms. We want to give them a house in the burbs and a big-screen plasma TV because we believe that is the American Dream…we treat people like they are paper dolls. We want to paste cut-out clothes and shoes and display them on our refrigerator doors…It never occurs to us that these people aren’t lost. They are just poor.”
Zacharias’ masterful way with a tale does more to whack at the over-inflated piñata of our wrong-headed belief than a theological treatise ever will. We diminish grace by our insistence that our “faithfulness” be rewarded with lovely parting gifts. The book tackles stinkin’ thinkin’ without shaming or hectoring its readers. Instead, Will Jesus Buy Me A Double-Wide? is a thought-provoking – and, dare I say it? – a rich read for anyone who is trying to understand what it means to walk in the way of Jesus.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com
Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith
"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
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