I know Karina Fabian best from her speculative fiction–tales of dragon detectives, spacefaring nuns, superhero misfits, and zombie cookery, filled with engaging characters, sly puns, and wry observations on human nature. While her faith informs all her writing (her tagline is “Fiction, Faith, and Fun”), that faith is front-and-center in this very non-fiction collaboration with her father, Steven Lumbert, a Catholic deacon.
There’s still plenty of fun. Why God Matters is primarily a devotional guide, in the spirit of Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God, but it’s also a personal memoir and meditation on the joys and challenges of life, shared by a father and daughter who love each other very much.
The book provides a series of topical meditations, “life lessons,” each with a scripture passage, an excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a pertinent quotation that summarizes the chapter’s main idea, and a vignette from Karina or Steven.
The vignettes are what really bring this book to life. Karina and Steven share some very personal moments when they’ve recognized God’s presence and intervention in their lives. Sometimes it happens in something as simple as a shared family meal or the give-and-take of a relationship with a friend. Sometimes it’s a life-changing incident, a momentous decision, or a miraculous answer to prayer. These are situations we all encounter, and it’s encouraging to read these accounts of how God met Steven and Karina there and strengthened their faith in the process. As they note in the introduction,
The stories you’ll find here are ordinary, because quite often, we find our faith in the day-to-day living. After all, what could be more ordinary than taking a step—or a breath? Yet, as St. Patrick said, “Christ’s breath in mine.”
This book is written from a Catholic viewpoint with a Catholic audience in mind. I think, though, that any Christian reader would enjoy and benefit from the insights it offers, which transcend sectarian borders. Protestant Evangelical Fred certainly gained a renewed appreciation of how important it is to be aware that God is working in my life every day, and of my corresponding need to respond to that work and cooperate with Him in my spiritual development, becoming more like Him, and participating in the divine nature. That’s what being a Christian, a disciple of Jesus Christ, is all about.
It’s not complicated, but it takes commitment, and you’ve got to keep your head in the game. In its glimpses of one family’s faith journey, Why God Matters illustrates many practical ways to cultivate a daily walk with God. It’s helpful, it’s inspiring, and it’s heartwarming. A great combination, and well worth reading.
>>This review is based upon an electronic copy of the book provided to me free of charge by the publisher, a courtesy I appreciate, but which does not guarantee my recommendation. I strive to evaluate every book I review purely on its intrinsic merits.<<