The full title is We Will Be Landing Shortly: Now What? The front cover plainly identifies it as “the spiritual musings of Mike Hamel.” The author is working through some things and is very transparent about that. His thought process is done on paper and at times he offers more questions than answers.
Mike Hamel has been through a lot, and the effects of tragedy have shaken his faith. He hasn’t lost it but after a lifetime of religious faith and pastoral vocation it doesn’t come as easy as it used to. After surviving three bouts with cancer, cancer treatments, a major car accident and seven surgeries, he was prepared to deal with his own mortality. Then suddenly and without warning his wife of 37 years died of a heart attack… on Thanksgiving Day. One section of the book is a collection of journal entries beginning that day and continuing over the next 12 months. Hamel is a writer’s writer and works through his thought process on paper. I sometimes do the same thing but then he publishes his for the world to read!
I’m a little conflicted about how to recommend this book. At the halfway point I was excited and started telling people about it. There is a short chapter on writers and writing, and I shared a few passages with my local writers club. On Facebook and other places I was already telling people “I haven’t finished this book yet but want to go ahead and recommend it.” Hamel is well read, informative and entertaining, and the book is definitely a good read. He established himself as an author by publishing a series of children’s books, Matterhorn the Brave, which started out as bedtime stories that he made up as he went along for his own children. He has read theologians, philosophers, historians and can make your head spin just scratching the surface of quantum physics and mathematics. I stand by my claim that it is a good book.
But somewhere around the half way point a change takes place. The book becomes less narrative and entertaining as he explores the questions he has about his faith; and about all faith, where it comes from, what can be proven as opposed to what must be taken on faith, and how paradigms, religious and otherwise, shape our reality or perhaps are shaped by our reality. What is real? is not just a rhetorical question, he really gets into how we experience the universe and various worldviews that attempt to deal with the issues of our existence. Hamel grew up in a Roman Catholic home and accepted many truths without question. As a young man he left Catholicism for evangelical Christianity. For 30 years he pastored, worked up church plants and evangelized. He was absolutely certain about his convictions regarding God and the Bible. Then life deal him several bad hands in a row and he began to question the very things he had adamantly taught others. He used to preach sermons; now he listens. And he finds himself asking more questions than the sermons he hears provide answers for. While his faith is shaken he holds onto the hope that he can somehow find it again. He believes in God and yearns for the feeling that God is near; but hasn’t felt that way in a long time.
If you enjoy an unfiltered look directly into someone’s thought process then this book is for you. If you are looking to have your faith bolstered or strengthened, I would recommend something else. Chicken Soup for the Soul this is not. Mike Hamel asks pointy questions that he does not have the answers to. The emotions are raw and the writing is forward and honest. He questions the way we interpret scripture, how we know what we claim to “know” about God and wants the reader to do the same. If you’re the type of person that worries you might lose your faith, let me steer you toward something safer. If you enjoy a challenge, if you feel the need to constantly question and reevaluate, then by all means proceed. Like I said in the beginning, it’s a good book – it’s just not for the faint at heart.
And now a legal disclaimer:
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. 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.