Aloof: Figuring Out Life with a God Who Hides
Tony Kriz (@tonykriz)
Released Jan 2015
Have you struggled with God seeming far away? Are we really meant to meander through life with little or no contact with the God we supposedly follow? In his new book, Aloof: Figuring Out Life with a God Who Hides, author and speaker Tony Kriz takes readers on a journey to explore questions like these. I’d have to say it’s a journey worth taking with Tony.
I am proud to say I went to seminary with Tony Kriz. Tony has a unique writing style, which I envy. He calls it a spiritual memoir. He reminisces through a lifetime of spiritual memories and identifies the formative effect they had on his spiritual beliefs. In fact, Tony encourages the reader to evaluate his stories as practice for evaluating their own.
Aloof is not a book of pat answers. Tony raises more questions than he answers. It’s normal to have questions, doubts, and struggles in our faith life and Tony embraces the dissonance better than anyone I know. He values “spiritual conversations” where people can share their faith stories. Listen to the honesty in Tony’s words:
Mostly Derek wanted to listen. . . . It was one of those conversations where you leave your normal script and start to wander in unknown and untamed territory.
“Derek, with each move I tried to take on more and more responsibility. It was important to me to have titles and to have others recognize me. It was incredibly important. I worked longer and longer hours, sometimes going months without a day off: language learning, program development, teaching , leading multiple teams, strategizing. All of that was punctuated by the occasional military crisis, terrorism, or the need to dodge the secret police. I think you get the idea. But it wasn’t just the work. I was constantly looking over my shoulder at others and wondering, am I doing enough?”
“Am I doing enough?” is the language of insecure faith.
It was at this moment that I spontaneously said something to Derek that I had never said before. Heck, I had never thought it before. It was the sort of statement that rung with such soul-truth that after it slipped out, I stopped talking all together. The statement was simply this: “I think I was trying to get God to notice me.” I could only stare at Derek after I said it, with eyebrows raised . . . surprise and distress on my face.
I think I was trying to get God to notice me.
–Tony Kriz, Aloof, page 107.
Tony’s stories are real, raw, and vulnerable. I found myself rooting for him along the way. But I also found his stories disturbing because they conjured up memories of my own stories—those raw, unedited moments in my spiritual development. It was disturbing because it forced me to confront my own experiences and evaluate whether I’ve been honest about the spiritual dissonance in my life or whether I settle for the pre-packaged answers of a Christian heritage. Now I want to unpack my newly discovered box of spiritual memories. One by one, I want to let my spiritual memories see the light of day so I can see my memories with all their blemishes and stains. Aloof is going to have a long-lasting impact on my life.
The one caution I would offer readers (because I know Tony already has a grasp on this) has to do with the possibility of letting our experiences dictate our beliefs above the Bible. The truth of the Bible is always going to be more reliable than personal experiences. Any difference between the Bible and our experience is merely one of those areas of dissonance Tony urges us to explore rather than push aside.
I applaud Tony Kriz for sharing his most vulnerable spiritual experiences with unvarnished realism. The Christian community has rarely been willing to embrace the messy process most of us experience in trying to follow God. They want answers that fit in orderly cubby holes or 3-point outlines.
Tony teaches us, by example, to see the power of story—our testimonies—in shaping our lives and dialogues. We need many more discussions along these lines. Thanks, Tony.
I love God, I really do. I want God to lead me. However, I so want to believe that God is with me that I must confess my capacity to conjure his presence for my own comfort or control. I must acknowledge my ability to co-opt for my agendas and to defend my opinions. To adapt Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s famous words: God created us in his own image, and it is amazing how often I return the favor.
–Tony Kriz, Aloof, page 146.
I give Aloof by Tony Kriz five cups of love.
|Aloof: Figuring Out Life with a God Who HidesBy Tony Kriz / W Publishing”God, are you there?” is a near universal cry of the human heart.We have all longed for God to be tangible. Some might sway to worship music, others go on missions, others fast from food. The universal quest is to feel the divine . . . and yet the divine seems aloof, even shy. In this narrative-driven book, Tony Kriz leads the reader on a journey of “orchestrated epiphanies” along the eternal quest to tangibly encounter God, including the unpredictable moments that give us hope, and even more so, the long gaps between those moments that challenge our faith.
Written in an authentic, conversational style,Aloof is easily accessible to those who don’t know much about the Bible, yet the message is still theologically informed and culturally relevant. This book will help you process how God acts uniquely towards us, depending upon each stage of life. The chapters include contemporary real-life stories that normalize the experience of an often hidden God, while also aiding the reader to acknowledge the very real moments (rare though they may be) when God has shown up in a tangible way.