Saturday, September 1, 2012



Story: Our Journey of Heartache and Grace from Eden to Evermore

Price:   $12.99
ISBN:                   978-0-8007-2065-0
Publication Date: Aug. 2012
Formats: Paperback
About the Book . . . 

Storyteller Recaptures the Mystery of the Ancient Scriptures

Author Steven James leads readers to (re)experience the greatest story ever told

“Only God could tell a story this ludicrous and then claim that it’s true,” says Steven James, who penned Story: Recapture the Mystery (Revell, February 2006), which makes the Bible come alive in provocative and poetic ways, encapsulating the mystery and beauty of the Christian story.

James, a professional storyteller from East Tennessee, grew up in the church but fell in love with Jesus at age 21 on Easter Sunday at his bosses’ church. “Easter is a love story; I’d never realized it before, but I had to experience the entire Christian story to be truly moved and changed by it,” he says. 
Through 30 short chapters, James retells key elements of the Christian story—from Adam and Eve in the Garden, to the Israelites plea for freedom and the love/hate struggles between humans and God in the Old Testament. Story illuminates Jesus miraculous birth and daring ministry on earth, building to the “rising terror” of the crucifixion and rediscovery of freedom following the resurrection.

A Story Unlike Any Other
At one point, James paints the brutal murder of Able in the Old Testament through the eyes of his brother Cain. He views Jesus dancing and turning water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana through the testimony of the bewildered bride. At another, he writes as a frightened onlooker as Jesus struggles to carry his cross to Golgotha, and captures the chaos sweeping through the Holy Land following the resurrection. All the while, James relates the events of the Bible to life on Earth today.

“I’m thankful Jesus didn’t come to start another religion. Jesus didn’t arrive on earth to debate theology but to propose marriage. In a very real spiritual sense, God is courting us. Christianity is wild. It’s intimate. It’s heartbreaking and soul-mending,” writes James.

However, James believes the real meaning of Easter has been lost somewhere in the last 2,000 years. “The bunny has stolen the rabbi and stolen the show,” James writes. “Easter has evolved into just another nice, harmless, spineless, little holiday…when it’s supposed to be about a wrestling match between life and death, a cosmic struggle between good and evil.”

James invites readers to meet Jesus again—or for the very first time. “It’s all one story. And only when you finally untangle it, see it unfold, and enter it for yourself do you realize that the story has finally entered and at last untangled you,” James writes.
About the Author . . .          
Steven James is one of the nation's most innovative storytellers. He has been a full-time speaker for almost ten years and still appears weekly at conferences, churches, schools, and special events around the country, including Mega Fest 2005 and the National Youthworkers Convention. Steven is the author of twelve books, including Flirting with the Forbidden and The Queen which is part of his bestselling PATRICK BOWERS THRILLER Fiction series. He has a Master of Arts degree in Storytelling and lives in Johnson City, Tennessee. 
An Interview with Steven James . . . 
What was your goal in writing this book?
I wanted to retell the Christian story, the story of Jesus in a way that my postmodern friends could connect with. I’m not trying to water anything down, or redefine who Jesus is. I’m just trying to help people see the sweep of the story. And hopefully, enter it for themselves.

Some people may say it’s arrogant of you to try and retell the main narrative of Bible. If God wanted it shorter he would have made it shorter. How do you respond to that?
I’m a storyteller. I just want to tell his story in a way that 21st century people like me could connect with. I don’t see that as arrogant.

You’ve written a number of other books before, what makes this one different?
This book definitely charts some new territory for me, but I’ve been moving in this direction for awhile.

You include poems in this book. Why is that?
Because a poem is a way of saying something that cannot be said any other way. Some truths can’t be explained, they have to be experienced. When I really explored the Bible myself, I was shocked to find God is a poet at heart and not a theologian. There’s a lot more poetry, storytelling, metaphor in the Bible than systematic theology. That was kind of weird to me at first, but I get it now. Sometimes the only way to tell the truth is through a story, a poem.

Obviously, from some of the sections in this book, you’re a Christian. What do you have to say to people from other religions?
I have nothing against anyone’s particular background or upbringing. And by the way, neither did Jesus. Instead, he got annoyed when people tried to pursue God but refused to listen to him. I believe that anyone who genuinely seeks truth will eventually find Jesus. Once he said that “all who seek, find,” and I take him at his word.

So are you claiming that Christianity is better?
I tend to agree with what I heard someone say one time, “Christianity is not true because it works, it works because it’s true.” In the Christian story you have the best explanation I’ve ever seen of why we are the way we are, why the world is the way it is, and what hope is available for us. It tackles the questions of meaning, guilt, loneliness, death and despair head-on with no sidestepping or games.

What qualifies you to wrote a book explaining the Christian story? Are you a pastor?
Not a pastor, nope. I’m just a participant in the story. 

Reader Review . . . 
Imagine a Story that begins before the Beginning and has no End; that begins in total Darkness and ends with total Light.  It's a Story of absolute Love  vs. absolute evil; the ultimate "happily ever after", where ever after never ends.   It's the Story of Stories, and the beautiful thing is that it's all true.
Steven James has  done something no one else has done, to my knowledge, at least.  He has taken the Bible and the complete story of Grace and Salvation and told it in story form.  Interwoven with his own poetry,  he writes with  descriptive prose that at times is beautiful and at times so open and honest  that it hurts to read.  

     "oh, in the beginning, when you were alone,
           did you dream of someone like me?
      in the beginning, from soil and stone,
      when you breathed out a world to be . . .
          did you dream a great dream, 
          did it glisten and gleam,
          for all of the angels to see?
     in the beginning, in the depths of your heart,
     were you thinking, already, of me?

As the story progresses through the ages, the poetry reflects the changes brought about by sin and evil.   But then a sacrifice was offered to break the chains, but man's betrayal was instrumental in the sacrifice, and the author explores his own continued betrayal.

     "judas betrayed you for thirty pieces of silver.
      forgive me for all the times i've done it
          for free.

      yet you've chosen to call me friend.
      help me to live like it.
      i'm both captured and set free by
      the mystery of your love.


Happily for all mankind,  there is a happily ever after possible, and the author shares this with the reader.  This could easily be used to share the Gospel with someone unfamiliar with the Bible or who is uncomfortable with the traditional "trappings".  But I also think that those of us who are , in the author's words, participants in the Story, can benefit from being reminded of the love extended to us through the ages.  And, not only can it be a spiritual experience, but the book is just beautifully written.  I will be recommending this to anyone who will listen.

5 stars

“Available August 2012  at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.” 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Revell. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.




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