Tables in the Wilderness
In Tables in the Wilderness, Preston Yancey arrived at Baylor University in the autumn of 2008 with his life figured out: he was Southern Baptist, conservative, had a beautiful girlfriend he would soon propose to, had spent the summer living in southeast Asia as a missionary, and planned to study political science. Then God slowly allowed Preston’s secure world to fall apart until every piece of what he thought was true was lost: his church, his life of study, his political leanings, his girlfriend, his best friend . . . and his God. It was the loss of God in the midst of all the godly things that changed Preston forever. One day he felt he heard God say, “It’s going to be about trust with you,” and then God was silent---and he still hasn’t spoken. At least, not in the ways Preston used to think were the only ways God spoke. No pillars of fire, no clouds, just a bit of whisper in wind. Now, Preston is a patchwork of Anglican spirituality and Baptist sensibility, with a mother who has been in chronic neurological pain for thirteen years and father still devoted to Southern Baptist ministry who reads saints’ lives on the side. He now shares his story of coming to terms with a God who is bigger than the one he thought he was worshiping---the God of a common faith, the God who makes tables in the wilderness, the God who is found in cathedrals and in forests and in the Eucharist, the God who speaks in fire and in wind, the God who is bigger than narrow understandings of his will, his desire, his plan---the God who is so big, that everything must be his.

Tables in the Wilderness Details

TitleTables in the Wilderness
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 1st, 1970
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Religion, Faith, Nonfiction, Christianity, Spirituality, Christian

Tables in the Wilderness Review

  • Nancy Kennedy
    January 1, 1970
    O, the sturm and drang of youth! Especially of evangelical Christian youth. Preston Yancey writes of the spiritual crisis of his college years at Baylor University, which, if I'm counting correctly, ended a mere three years ago. Overzealousness and disappointment, inflated and crushed egos, rifts between friends, and girls, girls, girls. His is a pretty recognizable experience.If you like the writing of Donald Miller or Rob Bell, this is your kind of book. The writing is a stream of consciousnes O, the sturm and drang of youth! Especially of evangelical Christian youth. Preston Yancey writes of the spiritual crisis of his college years at Baylor University, which, if I'm counting correctly, ended a mere three years ago. Overzealousness and disappointment, inflated and crushed egos, rifts between friends, and girls, girls, girls. His is a pretty recognizable experience.If you like the writing of Donald Miller or Rob Bell, this is your kind of book. The writing is a stream of consciousness style bouncing back and forth between past and present tense, with strings of one-word sentences and one-sentence paragraphs, every word imparted in a tone of hushed urgency. Mr. Yancey wants you to feel his experience more than make sense of it.What really characterizes a book like this to me is its emphasis on broad-brush emotional scene-setting in place of a strongly crafted narrative with forward momentum. As much as I try to follow an author like this, it always feels to me like a couple in a ballroom dance, one partner doing whatever steps he wants, the other scrambling to follow his whims instead of the dance steps they've learned together. I find it a frustrating experience. Lead me and I will follow! Do your own thing, and I'm apt to drift over to the side and look for another partner.But readers questioning the spiritual tradition in which they were raised and whether it fits their adult lives might be perfectly happy to be led down Mr. Yancey's winding path. He departs from the Southern Baptist tradition of his childhood and eventually lands in the Anglican church. Along the way, he tries out a number of mainstream denominations, although it's best not to try to figure out which. Early in his search, he speaks of a seminal moment in a church, "one of the only churches in the area I could find with an Easter Vigil service in the later evening." Characteristically, he doesn't say what church that was. I would have liked to know.
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    I had high hopes for this book, by Preston Yancey, but just couldn't get into it. In fact, I stopped reading about 1/4 way into it as I was muddling my way through the pages and then just realized "I don't care about reading any more!".I hate to give a book a bad review, because something I dislike may be another person's favorite book. The fact is, maybe I just didn't need a book like this in my point in life. This book is about growing up in a religious family, then loosing the sense of God in I had high hopes for this book, by Preston Yancey, but just couldn't get into it. In fact, I stopped reading about 1/4 way into it as I was muddling my way through the pages and then just realized "I don't care about reading any more!".I hate to give a book a bad review, because something I dislike may be another person's favorite book. The fact is, maybe I just didn't need a book like this in my point in life. This book is about growing up in a religious family, then loosing the sense of God in early adulthood, and finally finding Him again. This would be a good book for someone who is feeling that silence from God and having doubts. The issue for me is that the book reads more like a blog than a book, which isn't a problem except for the fact that it was so disjointed that I couldn't follow along. Good for blog posts, maybe, but not a book where one wants to read a continual story.Also, while Preston is a good writer he tries to be too poetic, describing things in too much detail. I wanted to scream "Just get to the point already!". Sometimes less really is more.Disclaimer: This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Natalie Vellacott
    January 1, 1970
    I found this book to be somewhat bizarre. It's written almost like a private journal and rambles in places. I didn't relate to the spiritual experiences and found it difficult to pick out the story. I gave up in the end and binned it as I wasn't sure that passing it on to someone else would be especially helpful!
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  • Kimberly
    January 1, 1970
    During the time I was reading this book, I kept saying "I don't think I like the book I'm reading." To which my husband would respond "Then why are you reading it?" Honestly, I didn't know. Perhaps I just wanted to see if it would get any better. For most of the book, Yancey sounded so arrogant that I was really put off by him. In the end, I just felt that he is still arrogant, perhaps slightly less than during his college days, but arrogant nonetheless. He seems to be looking for attention and/ During the time I was reading this book, I kept saying "I don't think I like the book I'm reading." To which my husband would respond "Then why are you reading it?" Honestly, I didn't know. Perhaps I just wanted to see if it would get any better. For most of the book, Yancey sounded so arrogant that I was really put off by him. In the end, I just felt that he is still arrogant, perhaps slightly less than during his college days, but arrogant nonetheless. He seems to be looking for attention and/or pity. I think it telling when his friend asks him why he is always talking about how broken he is, when he's not really broken. I just felt like screaming "Get over yourself, man!" As far as Yancey's writing, it came off a bit pretentious to me. It's as if he is trying so hard to be profound with his one word sentences and his one sentence paragraphs. So I was not impressed at all. Maybe someday I will make myself reread this book and I will see beyond the arrogance to find something meaningful. Maybe, but then again, maybe not.
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  • Sarah Hyatt
    January 1, 1970
    I'm counting this one as finished because I managed about half of it before I just couldn't anymore.Like every book I read lately, it seems, I really wanted and expected to love this book. It came with high praise. I have liked some of Preston's blog entries. But while the book is, fortunately, better than Blue Like Jazz (which it is often compared to), it is full of equally uninteresting college feelings and drama and poetic language. Oddly enough, all things I like in moderation, but there is I'm counting this one as finished because I managed about half of it before I just couldn't anymore.Like every book I read lately, it seems, I really wanted and expected to love this book. It came with high praise. I have liked some of Preston's blog entries. But while the book is, fortunately, better than Blue Like Jazz (which it is often compared to), it is full of equally uninteresting college feelings and drama and poetic language. Oddly enough, all things I like in moderation, but there is not really any moderation here. It is like reading someone's Livejournal from their college years - and I say that from experience because I kept one at that time. All angst and vagueness and no explanatory details. Names of friends and peers thrown around until you can't figure out who they are, or why you should care. Conversations and things that were Very Important to the person experiencing them because College and Life Transitions and because they know the details and the context that we, as the readers, just don't. I almost said can't, but I don't think that's true. We could have, but this book just doesn't get us there.Maybe I am too old and jaded to be the target market for this book. But college feels were previously my love language, and I just slogged through this one, thinking, dude, you went to college and had feelings? Welcome to ALL OF US. I agree with Madeleine L'Engle that it's not anyone's job to tell it best but to tell it in their own way, but I never connected with Yancey's spiritual journey here in a way that illuminated mine... or, for that matter, his, because it was all pseudofactual details trying to be forced to have Great Meaning. And one sentence paragraphs. AAAAAH.I felt as if I was reading a monologue of his. Maybe it would have changed had I persevered through the backstory wedged between the initial silence of God and (I assume) the later discussion of the silence of God, but I just couldn't because after trying for a while I realized I didn't care at all. Having gone through my own college silences, and in the middle of one now, I had to finally admit I had negative amounts of interest in it and give up on this book, which I am still counting as finished, because I deserve that and I'm an adult and I do what I want.Preston makes one comment that stuck with me because I happen to know, or assume, some of the backstory. He wonders about the things he didn't write down. I am the same way. However, he never describes this. Talking about your (I assume) need to write all things down to remember them would be appropriate here. I think this could have been a very good book, with some ruthless editing. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.
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  • Leah
    January 1, 1970
    This book was recommended to me months ago by a friend of mine and I’m glad that I finally got around to reading it! I wanted to read this in bits and pieces because I knew it would be a lot to take in, so I decided to read it on my lunch breaks at work. I highly recommend reading this is small chunks if you’re going to pick it up. I made the mistake of trying to read larger portions toward the end and didn’t comprehend a lot of it.The writing style of this is a little much sometimes. Nothing i This book was recommended to me months ago by a friend of mine and I’m glad that I finally got around to reading it! I wanted to read this in bits and pieces because I knew it would be a lot to take in, so I decided to read it on my lunch breaks at work. I highly recommend reading this is small chunks if you’re going to pick it up. I made the mistake of trying to read larger portions toward the end and didn’t comprehend a lot of it.The writing style of this is a little much sometimes. Nothing is simple. That got a little overwhelming at times. I also had a hard time sometimes with the timeline and keeping people’s names straight, which is why it only has three stars. I do, however, really recommend this to anyone who is struggling in their faith (however minimal or major it may feel to you).
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  • Adam Shields
    January 1, 1970
    Short Review: This is a memoir of 25 year old. And although a generation later, it is hard not to favorably compare it to Blue Like Jazz. Both are well written and comfortable in their youth. But I think Table in the Wilderness is in a healthier place because he is finding his way back to God through the church (instead of in spite of the church). There is some overly emotive writing, but overall it is certainly worth reading. Preston is yet another in that broader circle of people I am aware of Short Review: This is a memoir of 25 year old. And although a generation later, it is hard not to favorably compare it to Blue Like Jazz. Both are well written and comfortable in their youth. But I think Table in the Wilderness is in a healthier place because he is finding his way back to God through the church (instead of in spite of the church). There is some overly emotive writing, but overall it is certainly worth reading. Preston is yet another in that broader circle of people I am aware of that are becoming Anglican (and in his case being ordained). Seems like someone else I know about once a week is starting a new Anglican church or getting ordained or at least joining the Anglican stream of Christianity. Click through for full review on my blog at http://bookwi.se/table-in-the-wildern...
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  • Jill Hart
    January 1, 1970
    I hadn't heard of Preston Yancey before this book, but I can now say that I'll be picking up any other books by him in the years to come. Tables in the Wilderness is an honest, authentic look at faith and how it can be a major part of our lives even when we can't "feel" or "hear" God.Yancey shares from his own life experiences and it's these gut-level, honest glimpses into his heart as he seeks a God that he fears has abandon him that call out to the reader and give hope. As Yancey struggles to I hadn't heard of Preston Yancey before this book, but I can now say that I'll be picking up any other books by him in the years to come. Tables in the Wilderness is an honest, authentic look at faith and how it can be a major part of our lives even when we can't "feel" or "hear" God.Yancey shares from his own life experiences and it's these gut-level, honest glimpses into his heart as he seeks a God that he fears has abandon him that call out to the reader and give hope. As Yancey struggles to makes some kind of sense out of what he's experiencing, he learns beautiful lessons along the way that had me thinking long after I put the book down.
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  • Dan Curnutt
    January 1, 1970
    This is Preston Yancey’s story about his life within the home of a family whose father is a Pastor of a Southern Baptist Church in Texas. For those who don’t know this is about as Bible Belt as you can get and Preston was raised to know the Bible, to know about God and to understand the doctrine and life of the Southern Baptist Church.He is not sure when he became a Christian, he states, “My mother says that there was a time when I was about three that she was pushing me around in a shopping car This is Preston Yancey’s story about his life within the home of a family whose father is a Pastor of a Southern Baptist Church in Texas. For those who don’t know this is about as Bible Belt as you can get and Preston was raised to know the Bible, to know about God and to understand the doctrine and life of the Southern Baptist Church.He is not sure when he became a Christian, he states, “My mother says that there was a time when I was about three that she was pushing me around in a shopping cart in the store . . . . . I looked at her seriously and said, ‘I wanted to ask Jesus into my heart.’”That comment should give you some insight; at an early age he knew the language of the church and the Western view of “asking Jesus into your heart.” What he didn’t understand was what that was going to entail.This book will document his struggle with the church, with God and with doctrine. It is mostly about the time of his college years when he was attending Baylor University (a Baptist University). He will start attending an Episcopal church as well as the Baptist church and then even work with a few other students to start a church.But all that searching is really not about being a good church attender, it is about his inability to comprehend truly in his life who God is, who Jesus is and what the Holy Spirit can do.I’m grateful for his book, but I must say that it describes the life meandering of an immature young man who just wants to discover the truth, but doesn’t realize that is what he is looking for.Probably the best comment he makes to sum up his book is in the first chapter when he says, “While I intellectually know God is still present, while I intellectually know God will never leave me, while I intellectually know God desires the best for me—my heart and my soul, they don’t seem so very sure anymore.”The book is written in a way that you will learn about his struggle to “hear from God,” and his frustration with the “silence” that God takes him through. What is interesting is that God told him there would be silence, God told him that he would have to be still and wait for that still small voice to give direction and guidance. But Preston is like most of us, he wanted his way with God on his terms and wasn’t necessarily eager to “wait” for God to direct him.The struggle is painful to read about, but it is also encouraging because it is the struggle that many young people have with the church. As a former youth Pastor I can say that this book summarizes the life of many students that I taught. Many had this same struggle. I’m sure if they were to read Yancey’s book they would find themselves writing in the margin, “yes, that is exactly what I felt.”The book is frustrating for me to read, but also true to the core about the struggle that many students have with God.Read, think, meditate, absorb and then ask yourself, “am I just an intellectual Christian or am I a Christian who fully embraces God with my whole heart, soul, mind and strength?Enjoy!
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  • Judy Collins
    January 1, 1970
    A special thanks to Zondervan Non-Fiction and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Preston Yancey’s debut, TABLES IN THE WILDERNESS, is a contemporary memoir, you will not want to miss! Preston explores different forms of hearing God—in Scriptures, written prayers, feelings, through others, and silence. A bigger God than imagined.Tables in the Wilderness is a love letter to people who do not know where they fit in the church, its teachings, or may not particularly want to choo A special thanks to Zondervan Non-Fiction and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Preston Yancey’s debut, TABLES IN THE WILDERNESS, is a contemporary memoir, you will not want to miss! Preston explores different forms of hearing God—in Scriptures, written prayers, feelings, through others, and silence. A bigger God than imagined.Tables in the Wilderness is a love letter to people who do not know where they fit in the church, its teachings, or may not particularly want to choose one denomination, over another--- to place their faith. They are looking for more. Many people still down deep--believe in God; however, may not feel His presence at all times.Through this book, Yancey wants to cause complications and talk about God’s absence or presence. As he grew up in the south (as did I Southern Baptist), you can always hear with prayer, church, and scriptures.However, Preston takes readers on his journey through the times he felt God was silent. He was challenged, as felt Jesus left him and now it was going to be about trust. Even through this journey, he still believed, but did not think God was present.Tables—the place where life happens. Where we hear one another’s story--- I feed you and you feed me. We recognize God in one another. The most significant thing God was teaching him through this journey, as well as all of us today------God wants us to look for Him, in one another—the ordinary and common.When the absence began, he was scared thinking it would always be this way; however by the end, he realized it was actually the beginning and foundation point ----a journey to a new richer and fuller understanding of God. God can prepare a table in the wilderness.TABLES IN THE WILDERNESS,will take you on an engaging journey with twists and turns, keeping you turning to find answers, as Preston explores God’s voice in different ways. Deeply moving and personal, you feel a sense of peace knowing God has laid out His tables for us, even when we are broken and in those desolate places—Grace comes and reaches into those cracked places. It was the loss of God in the midst of all the godly things that changed Preston forever.Filled with emotion, honesty, and humor,Yancey shares his story of coming to terms with a God— much bigger than he thought possible. Much larger than the one he has worshiped in traditional ways —a God who makes tables in the wilderness.While books and reading, play an important role in shaping Preston’s perspective on Christianity, his theology was shaped largely not just by the places he worshiped, but the people he worshiped with. Sam, Grant, Antonia, and Jerry all play significant roles in Preston’s life throughout the course of Tables in the Wilderness in specific ways, particularly focused on refining and shaping his spirituality.Preston’s fresh approach, to traditional devotion--- reiterates our place at God’s Table--we are welcome guests, as he prepares a table in anticipation of Jesus’ arrival. He takes you on an intimate journey of the discovery and goodness of God.A big-hearted, wise beyond his years, this talented writer, Preston Yancey writes honestly with clarity and feeling—a coming-of-age journey to a table set in the wilderness between he and a triune God. As he journeys he questions and stumbles his way toward an understanding that faith is not a linear path but a series of leaps (lily pads)--forward and backward, side to side. God (water) is there to sustain him along the way.Many of us have struggled with faith and desperately desires and seeks hope. Preston comes to know a God who is bigger than he dreamed possible, Hope is there, after struggling to find his relationship and faith.The Eucharist, Communion, is particularly important to Preston’s spiritual journey and is a significant factor in where he ultimately decides to make his denominational home. He learns to hear God by other people. To hear in the small and quiet things. God makes them everywhere, if we’d only learn to look. Preston demonstrates we can be still and find God within our wilderness. Highly Recommend!http://www.judithdcollinsconsulting.c...
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  • Georgia Herod
    January 1, 1970
    Tables in cultures around the world symbolize welcome, shared life, celebration, and provision. In the Biblical context, they represent all of that and so much more, summed up in the word "grace."Yancey shares his spiritual journey through loneliness, brokenness, depression, confusion, questioning and longing--discovering in retrospect that all along the way God has indeed been faithful to set tables of grace before him, even when he was unaware of the provision. "God prepares a table in the sil Tables in cultures around the world symbolize welcome, shared life, celebration, and provision. In the Biblical context, they represent all of that and so much more, summed up in the word "grace."Yancey shares his spiritual journey through loneliness, brokenness, depression, confusion, questioning and longing--discovering in retrospect that all along the way God has indeed been faithful to set tables of grace before him, even when he was unaware of the provision. "God prepares a table in the silence. He prepares a table in the growing pains. The God of the cosmos prepares a table for you and me" in our personal wildernesses. He invites us "to sit, to eat, to learn, and to laugh." Yancey spent a lot of time at corner tables at Common Grounds, a "shabby house-turned-coffee shop which became his home' in Waco, near Baylor University, as he took up a quiet spot to read, write, think, and question himself and God. I felt as if I were sitting at his table, participating in his conversations. Because of his vulnerability and honesty, Yancey's tone is that of a fellow pilgrim and struggler, sharing a cup of coffee, while asking big questions and challenging his own presuppositions, yet growing through every shift and season. Reading someone else's faith story is an encouragement to me. I was caught up in Yancey's story from the opening page.
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  • Sean Post
    January 1, 1970
    Expect to see a lot from Yancey in the years to come. He is a profoundly gifted writer and storyteller as Jeff Bethke notes in the foreword. Stylistically, one cannot help but be reminded of Donald Miller. However, there is a theological depth and reverence present with Yancey that is - only on a second glance - absent from Miller. The first chapter of the book drew me in. I found myself highlighting, making notes, and feeling as if Yancey and I very nearly shared the same soul. I even shared so Expect to see a lot from Yancey in the years to come. He is a profoundly gifted writer and storyteller as Jeff Bethke notes in the foreword. Stylistically, one cannot help but be reminded of Donald Miller. However, there is a theological depth and reverence present with Yancey that is - only on a second glance - absent from Miller. The first chapter of the book drew me in. I found myself highlighting, making notes, and feeling as if Yancey and I very nearly shared the same soul. I even shared some of these notes with friends when describing my own relationship with Jesus. I cannot say that this sense continued throughout the entire book though. I think if a lesser writer had told the same story, I may have grown bored with this book. I guess part of what seems strange is the concept of writing a memoir about one's college years when one is only three years removed from them. The book may unintentionally create an air of self-importance (about the author). I really hesitate to say that and I sincerely doubt that he actually thinks of himself this way. I suppose that's the inherent danger of writing 240 pages about yourself, your ideas, the books you have read, and your journey with God. Yancey is a couple years younger than me which makes him a very, very young guy. We are both relatively early on in our stories. Maybe its okay to publish a book about that stage. Personally, I don't think I have enough clarity to do so right now. Yancey seems to grasp for that in the themes he draws out but I'm sure even he would admit that these aren't crystallized. In part, that's precisely his point: Sit in the tension. Soak in the mystery. Pray your questions.
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  • Leigh Kramer
    January 1, 1970
    This spiritual memoir resonated with me in ways big and small. Though our lives look very different, I related to the ways Preston looked to hear from and experience God. God went silent while Preston attended Baylor University and this loss ultimately teaches Preston what it is to hear.This called to mind a dark night of the soul that happened in my early 20s, a season where I did not hear from God and had to grasp every bit of faith to believe He was still present in spite of His perceived abs This spiritual memoir resonated with me in ways big and small. Though our lives look very different, I related to the ways Preston looked to hear from and experience God. God went silent while Preston attended Baylor University and this loss ultimately teaches Preston what it is to hear.This called to mind a dark night of the soul that happened in my early 20s, a season where I did not hear from God and had to grasp every bit of faith to believe He was still present in spite of His perceived absence. I wish I could have read this then.Wisdom and grace permeate the pages of this beautifully written book.We can find God and lose Him in many ways throughout our lives. We are worn down by life at times and this can make it that much harder to sense Godhead in the mundane. We may trust He is there, even if we no longer sense Him, but when the days turn into weeks turn into months, the longing turns into an ache. And then what?Each time I've set out into the unknown, I have eventually landed where I was meant to be all along. It never looks like what I imagined and very rarely do I have anything to do with the result. I am changed by the process and more aware of my smallness and God's vast mystery.I suppose this then is why I recommend Preston's memoir. Tables in the Wilderness serves as a guide through the unknown. Through Preston's story, we see ourselves. We remember our smallness and God's vast mystery.We remember what it is to be lost and then found. We remember what it is to be welcomed at the Table.
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  • Barb Terpstra
    January 1, 1970
    I struggled through many parts of this book. I felt like the author was a little whiny about his journey. But then, I would run into some beautiful statement, or a a phrase that would make me think. For example, "The action of grace in our hearts is secret and silent", or a friend's thought "To tell a story is an act of worship. . . to be entrusted with a story is an act of holiness".There is what I think is a beautiful prayer that is shared with him by Mother Andrea during communion, that I thi I struggled through many parts of this book. I felt like the author was a little whiny about his journey. But then, I would run into some beautiful statement, or a a phrase that would make me think. For example, "The action of grace in our hearts is secret and silent", or a friend's thought "To tell a story is an act of worship. . . to be entrusted with a story is an act of holiness".There is what I think is a beautiful prayer that is shared with him by Mother Andrea during communion, that I think I will steal for myself and those I love: "May God defend your heart, strengthen your spirit, and bring you into life everlasting. Amen". In many ways I feel like the author was on a tortuous journey towards his desire to hear God again. I say tortuous because it seemed like it took him so long to get there. I felt like he was throwing up his own roadblocks on the way. To be fair, I think, as he wrote the story he realized this--so, I have to give him points for being honest.
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  • Kerri Thorn
    January 1, 1970
    I agree with some of the reviews I've read of this book...Yancey's tone seems fairly arrogant and pretentious at times. He writes as though from the distance of great maturity, when in reality, he's less than 5 years past the time he's writing about. It's difficult for me to take a 20-something's memoir super seriously. That said, there are things in the book that spoke to me. While I think the person writing still has a lot of maturing to do, (and I found myself rolling my eyes at his "wisdom") I agree with some of the reviews I've read of this book...Yancey's tone seems fairly arrogant and pretentious at times. He writes as though from the distance of great maturity, when in reality, he's less than 5 years past the time he's writing about. It's difficult for me to take a 20-something's memoir super seriously. That said, there are things in the book that spoke to me. While I think the person writing still has a lot of maturing to do, (and I found myself rolling my eyes at his "wisdom") it wasn't a totally unhelpful read.
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  • Jennifer Newsom
    January 1, 1970
    While I am trying to remain unbiased, as this IS an advanced reader’s copy, I must say this book was very difficult to get into. It seemed to hop all over the place. I kept plugging through hoping it was just the beginning, but quickly became bogged down and had trouble ‘keeping up.’
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  • Todd
    January 1, 1970
    I feel like this could have been titled, "Todd Foley, here's a book you need to read this year." What a humbling, inspiring way to wrap up 2014 and look forward to the rhythms of stillness in 2015.
  • Joyce
    January 1, 1970
    Very disappointed in this book.
  • Grace
    January 1, 1970
    I bought this book because I wanted to hear more from someone about losing faith and finding it again; maybe even because I wanted hope drawn from someone else’s story. This book has some beautiful writing, and much self-obsession I could do without. The author is young, so young - and it comes through. I would like to read his writing in 20 years and see what he has to say then. Lots of quotes from books and readings from his studies; the ideas yet not fully fleshed out by his life. I felt like I bought this book because I wanted to hear more from someone about losing faith and finding it again; maybe even because I wanted hope drawn from someone else’s story. This book has some beautiful writing, and much self-obsession I could do without. The author is young, so young - and it comes through. I would like to read his writing in 20 years and see what he has to say then. Lots of quotes from books and readings from his studies; the ideas yet not fully fleshed out by his life. I felt like the first few pages were the clearest and everything else was a disjointed attempt at a memoir-style explanation of something he still can’t explain. Less “I failed at a church plant when I was 18” and more about the questioning please. It felt privileged and esoteric; unresolved in the end. I appreciated the effort he took to be honest about his experiences and perceived flaws. I was left wanting something at the end of the book.
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  • JennanneJ
    January 1, 1970
    I was so excited about this book. I've been following Preston Yancey around this internet thing for a while and enjoyed the twitters and blogs and such. So, when I saw this book he had written, with a great title, I was eager to read.The first half of the book showed a know-it-all who really didn't know much at all. The author's awareness of his own ignorance from a HUGE distance of...a couple years...just seemed too convenient for the purposes of this book. The more I read this book, the sadder I was so excited about this book. I've been following Preston Yancey around this internet thing for a while and enjoyed the twitters and blogs and such. So, when I saw this book he had written, with a great title, I was eager to read.The first half of the book showed a know-it-all who really didn't know much at all. The author's awareness of his own ignorance from a HUGE distance of...a couple years...just seemed too convenient for the purposes of this book. The more I read this book, the sadder I got.By the time he began to offer hope and some real insights at the end, I had already given up on the book.
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  • Beth
    January 1, 1970
    His ability to write kept me from giving this book 2 stars.I could feel his confusion....I wanted to tell him to put away his books and read the Word. To stop searching for God and truth in his intellect. I wanted to tell him that God and Truth is found by the simplest and illiterate man. That is what, has made the scriptures worth dying for. He is a good writer. I read the book almost straight through without stopping. That rarely happens.I do hope that one day he'll find the simplicity, that i His ability to write kept me from giving this book 2 stars.I could feel his confusion....I wanted to tell him to put away his books and read the Word. To stop searching for God and truth in his intellect. I wanted to tell him that God and Truth is found by the simplest and illiterate man. That is what, has made the scriptures worth dying for. He is a good writer. I read the book almost straight through without stopping. That rarely happens.I do hope that one day he'll find the simplicity, that is in Christ. I felt for him, I still do.
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  • Emily Pridgen
    January 1, 1970
    This memoir takes you on the journey of one man's "dark night of the soul" and his emergence from it. Interestingly, I would have only given this book 3 stars about half way through, which was over a year ago. Now that I have finally finished it, I absolutely adore this book. I felt like Preston was a bit whiny and indulgent as he processed his feelings and beliefs throughout his college years, which he writes about, but in the end I realized that all of us go through that process internally, no This memoir takes you on the journey of one man's "dark night of the soul" and his emergence from it. Interestingly, I would have only given this book 3 stars about half way through, which was over a year ago. Now that I have finally finished it, I absolutely adore this book. I felt like Preston was a bit whiny and indulgent as he processed his feelings and beliefs throughout his college years, which he writes about, but in the end I realized that all of us go through that process internally, not many of us speak it out loud. I am thankful Preston was willing to share his journey.
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  • Jennifer Bonamo
    January 1, 1970
    I tried to finish this book and wanted to like it. The writing style was enjoyable and I identify with the author having been raised a Baptist, however, the book was what I describe as "thinking outloud" and I just could not finish it. It felt like it was not going anywhere, storywise. I read 75% of it. I hesitate to review it as others may love it. It just was not for me.
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  • Leah
    January 1, 1970
    "They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, "Can God spread a table in the wilderness? Even though he struck the rock so that water gushed out and torrents overflowed, can he also give bread, or provide meat for his people?" Psalm 78:18-20I love Love LOVE this book! I love its easygoing kind of bloggish writing style, its not very structured organization, how it nonetheless moves along to a temporary resting place. In sometimes present tense "They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. They spoke against God, saying, "Can God spread a table in the wilderness? Even though he struck the rock so that water gushed out and torrents overflowed, can he also give bread, or provide meat for his people?" Psalm 78:18-20I love Love LOVE this book! I love its easygoing kind of bloggish writing style, its not very structured organization, how it nonetheless moves along to a temporary resting place. In sometimes present tense, other times past, Preston chronicles a few years of his young adult wilderness wanderings as a Baylor University undergrad. Tables in the Wilderness tells part of the story that's my story that's the story of Israel's wilderness peregrinations. Tells the story of many who seek to journey faithfully with the God of history, attempt to live baptized in the world about them. How many times have I commented how the people who wrote down the words of scripture wrote theology at least as much as - probably more than - they wrote history? In Tables in the Wilderness, author-blogger Preston Yancey writes theology at least as much as he writes about the days of his life.Among other things, Preston Yancey's experience resonates with my own because of his ongoing observations of his own brokenness, and especially because of how he loves, appreciate, and seeks to understand the divine presence in the Eucharist (Holy Communion, Lord's Supper--like Preston, I trust I've learned to use those terms interchangeably, depending upon context). In fact, I knew I had to read the book because of the cover photo and book title. Like Preston, I mark time by the seasons of the liturgical year, and maybe need to be a little less know-it-all and not tell a totally unchurched stranger about my experiences during Epiphany 2010?Author Yancey was raised southern baptist, and when he began exploring and learning other ecclesiastical traditions (mostly Anglicanism, Episcopal Church USA), a couple of his counselors advised him to find and stick with what you could call a denominational home, or at least a home within a particular, definable church tradition. I've described my own theology as "quite well examined with a hint of Luther, a slice of Calvin," and so it tends to be, so that places me pretty much within the confessional traditions of the churches of the continental European Reformation. But have I found a settled place within a particular tradition or not? No, not yet, not really. But like Preston and so many others throughout the centuries, whatever else has been going on, by grace I do whatever I can to participate in at least one Eucharistic liturgy each week.What else did I especially like about Tables in the Wilderness? I enjoyed hearing about the author's interactions and ongoing relationships with his faithful (interesting, unusual, supportive, etc.) friends. His observations about church architecture, including Church of No Windows, made me want to write about a few church structures I've known.Don't we all "test God in our hearts" and demand the food, community, companionship, healthy air, human presence we crave and need? And despite our intensive, extensive yearnings, longings, and cravings, you know it's only by grace that we even imagine approaching the Table of Grace, that eschatological wilderness banquet, the ultimate earth day celebration.last things:There's chapter-specific suggested reading in the back of the book, plus "Reading Guide and Questions" for each chapter. My pre-publication copy may be missing other features, such as photographs or other illustrations. Although the first edition will be hardbound, I truly prefer the easy, bendable feel of the paperback in my hands, and despite probably missing features, I'm happy to have this version.
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    "I have pounded on the door of heaven, screaming shrilly. As if the silence were not the gift; as if I would exchange the restlessness and questions for any soporific peace... I have been selfish and I know it when my mother comes into my room, asking, "Are you blue?" (Depression, displacement, desire deferred--all cram within this colour.) I have thought I could not endure another day at a church where everything rolls on the same. Sitting at my grandma's round table--hedged by parents, grandma "I have pounded on the door of heaven, screaming shrilly. As if the silence were not the gift; as if I would exchange the restlessness and questions for any soporific peace... I have been selfish and I know it when my mother comes into my room, asking, "Are you blue?" (Depression, displacement, desire deferred--all cram within this colour.) I have thought I could not endure another day at a church where everything rolls on the same. Sitting at my grandma's round table--hedged by parents, grandma, Uncle B, Aunt L, and Aunt R--I have been silent, but I have not touched The Silence. I have been afraid to speak as a cynic and afraid to speak as a hypocrite, so I have been absent. I have tucked in my frayed edges so there is no solitude for others to greet or touch."The words above are my own from a diary entry of a couple months ago, but they could well be Preston Yancey's. Tables in the Wilderness dwells mostly in the liminal word of its subtitle; it's the story of how a talented young college student, raised in the happy-clappy assurance of evangelical (Southern Baptist at that) youth culture, lost the voice of God and yet found Him in liturgical churches, scholarship, and more silence. Other reviewers have complained about the vagueness of this book. Well, if one expects memoirs to be strong on "plot" or to provide striking characters, then this book is a failure. A brief sketch of Preston's early life as a devote Baptist pastor's son and "youth group" leader is given. The rest of the book meanders through his years as an undergrad at Baylor University and includes its share of young adult friendships and romances gone wrong. Preston and his friends start a church group and its failure precipitates much of his angst. It's nothing impressive or dramatic, coming, as other reviewers have pointed out, from a veeeeeeery young man. However, I'm a very young woman, so I didn't mind Preston's lack of experience. Instead, I read the book almost as a devotional. Indeed, Preston writes, "For anyone feeling like God is silent, this book is for you." This book didn't rescue me from all my personal silence--although while I was reading it, I think God did speak. I read it as a kindle, but filled it with highlighting, smiley face notes, questions, exclamations of "oh!", and even prayers. Preston's professors--especially in the honours college and Great Texts major--were the most iridescent "characters", reminding me of the invaluable role professors play in Christian institutions--how much they challenge us when we don't want to be challenged, and then the most sincere of them are often demonized for it, yet maintain patience and humour. The book also made me insanely jealous of the Great Texts major. One conclusion it led me to is that I desperately need to read Marie de France and Plato's Timeaus as soon as possible. I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and now as I scroll through my notes I am more impressed and challenged by it than ever. Despite the vagueness of narrative and a few minor editing challenges, it will likely reach my top ten list for this year. This review, which I'm writing at 12:15 am, is not sufficient to contain all my responses to this book, so I hope to soon make a blogpost or two utilizing the reading questions provided in the book and continuing to examine how it can continue to challenge me and hopefully others. (If anyone is interested in discussing this book, I would love to do it at my main blog.)
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  • Nathan Albright
    January 1, 1970
    [Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan Press in exchange for an honest review.]This book belongs to the memoirs of those whose road to a somewhat unconventional faith has come about through crises and trouble, and this is not an entirely unheard of sort of memoir in my library. This particular book is a compelling read, in part because the author is so honest and candid and in part because his experience of a difficult time when he felt that God was silent in the face [Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan Press in exchange for an honest review.]This book belongs to the memoirs of those whose road to a somewhat unconventional faith has come about through crises and trouble, and this is not an entirely unheard of sort of memoir in my library. This particular book is a compelling read, in part because the author is so honest and candid and in part because his experience of a difficult time when he felt that God was silent in the face of his doubts and struggles is unusual, when such times in the wilderness are not that unfamiliar for believers at all, if my own personal experience and that of others I know is any indication. There are a few powerful lessons that can be learned from this book, including the fact that it is easiest to write about difficult times when life has gone well, and also the fact that having a good book agent and friendly publishers helps a lot.The organization of this book is mostly chronological, with a twist. It begins somewhat near the end, as the author has to deal with people who are challenging him about his crisis of faith, and his unwillingness to commit to God or to the woman he loves, or even a church to attend as a member. There is then a long flashback going back to the author’s home and family life (as a Southern baptist from a preacher’s family) who has a long-lasting but not particularly healthy relationship with a couple of young women in high school and college, and a “family” at Baylor that breaks up under the strain of people going many different directions, including the failure of a church planting effort. For the most part, the author’s crisis of faith does not seem too unusual, but it is certainly well-written and easy to relate to.There are some elements that bear concern in the author’s approach. Throughout much of the book, the author appears to be somewhat confident in his view in his own superiority–he writes blog entries that he has to apologize about (who hasn’t done that?), and struggled with the relationship between the head and the heart, between faith and action, coming to a set of beliefs that was very heavily liturgical. The author finds himself deeply attracted to “tradition” even though much of that tradition appears to be deeply influenced by heathen beliefs and the influence of centuries of Roman Catholicism. Still, the longings that this author has for being rooted in a community of believers with roots going back a long way as well as a seasonal pattern of faith throughout the year are longings that could be met with a proper understanding of the Sabbath and Holy Days. Sadly, this never appears to have been in the radar of the author, whose readings of the early church fathers and other mystical saints apparently does not leave the proper room for an exploration of the Bible, rather than what a lot of people have said about the Bible. Still, if the destination and wayposts of the author’s struggle with faith are not necessarily a worthy example, this book is still a compelling read about the struggle we all have with God at times when He appears silent to our prayers and appeals. Sometimes God has to build our trust in Him in drastic ways; I speak from personal experience here.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Generally, when I read a book, I want it make me feel better. To escape or offer a solution to a problem. But lately, the books I've been reading haven't lived up to that need.They haven't made me feel better but they have made me feel.And that's where I am with Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost and Found Again by Preston Yancey. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book through the Booklook Bloggers program.)I love Yancey's writing. His blog is one that I read whenever Generally, when I read a book, I want it make me feel better. To escape or offer a solution to a problem. But lately, the books I've been reading haven't lived up to that need.They haven't made me feel better but they have made me feel.And that's where I am with Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost and Found Again by Preston Yancey. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book through the Booklook Bloggers program.)I love Yancey's writing. His blog is one that I read whenever he posts something new. And it's always challenging, often poetic, and downright refreshing. The book is all of that, too, in its own way. I will admit to stumbling a little in the beginning because Yancey's writing is different than most. It's good, just not easy. As he talks about his spiritual journey from a know-it-all Southern Baptist entering college to a questioning Anglican on the other side of college, the stories and observations roll out, sometimes chronologically, sometimes not. The first time I read Annie Dillard and Anne Lamott, I felt this sort of disconnectedness in the flow but realized as I was reading that it was all connected and related after all. This book has a similar feel.But it's a journey worth taking, and I found myself silently screaming "yes" to passages that reflected my own journey."I'm telling you to notice, because at a certain point I stopped. At a certain point, I stopped noticing that God was moving all around me, and I believe it was this lack of attention on my part, this willingness to treat common the awe of the Almighty, that would eventually arrive me to a place where God withdrew." (39)For me, reading this book was like drinking a glass of wine. On first taste, I am startled by the taste and I almost forget that I like it. Then I drink a little more and taste the flavors buried in the glass. And by the time I finish a glass, I am satisfied by the experience and not at all sorry.Tables in the Wilderness is a book for pilgrims and seekers, for those who don't have faith figured out, who wonder if anyone else feels the same way. For those who question the tradition in which they were raised, who have more questions than answers. It's one man's spiritual journey but it contains valuable truths for those of us on our own journeys. You might not like everything he has to say, but his story is worth the telling.
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  • Maurynne Maxwell
    January 1, 1970
    Tables in the WildernessIt's hard to review memoirs, because it more than ever feels like you're reviewing a person instead of a book. It's both wonderful and hard to review this book, because the author and I have been on such a similar journey. Raised Baptist, drawn to Anglican. Failed church. Good with words, so that the Long Night is one of silence, so that we can learn to hear God's language of breath and bone and stars and blood, of math and music, myth and metaphor, of gestures made and u Tables in the WildernessIt's hard to review memoirs, because it more than ever feels like you're reviewing a person instead of a book. It's both wonderful and hard to review this book, because the author and I have been on such a similar journey. Raised Baptist, drawn to Anglican. Failed church. Good with words, so that the Long Night is one of silence, so that we can learn to hear God's language of breath and bone and stars and blood, of math and music, myth and metaphor, of gestures made and unmade, the language of an ever-expanding table with a place for everyone, of a love as bright as suns, as humble as dirt and sweat. And Preston is one of the few others I've seen/heard talk about the comfort of praying the prayers, the traditional prayers, the liturgical prayers, as you realize that you are praying by rote, just like the people you despised in your youth--and yet--those prayers, those pilgrims of the past, those saints; they have stood where you are standing, and their faith and prayers are holding you up as you walk across the vale of tears--you, too, are walking on the water, and Jesus takes your hand and smiles. God never left. So instead of thinking of the book as a memoir or coming of age story, I treat it as Preston's testimony. He says at one point in the book, "I just want to hear someone preach a Jesus who is fiercely good and fiercely beautiful." Preston, you are fiercely on the way. But you knew that. The book is inspiring. Its painful honesty soars to truthtelling. It's written mostly in the present tense, which I do not like, because the transitions from past to present take one out of the story. But it's a good book, because there was lots of (internal) discussion with the author, lots of "right on!" and some "you're still so young." And some "oh heck" (that would denote the arrow of insight). There are some wonderful discussion questions in the back, and a "further reading" list. I think it would be a great book for older youth groups to read and discuss and pray on as the world changes, as churches build bridges, as God continues to work in the world to bring everyone, all of creation, to the table of grace and fellowship. "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Thank you Zondervan, netgalley, and God, for the opportunity to read and review this book in EARC format. It's worth re-viewing, keep it in your library.
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  • Rachelle Sperling
    January 1, 1970
    I loved it. It was beautiful and honest. Preston shared his journey and his questions, his thoughts, his doubts and his wrestling. The story was laced with Holy Curiosity, with discovery and confusion, with failure and with perseverance in hope. I loved what Jen Hatmaker said in her review…”As you turn the very last page, your soul is yearning for God, and you know that he will be found.” This book made me hungry again in a deeper way for the God who dwells in mystery and yet reveals Himself to I loved it. It was beautiful and honest. Preston shared his journey and his questions, his thoughts, his doubts and his wrestling. The story was laced with Holy Curiosity, with discovery and confusion, with failure and with perseverance in hope. I loved what Jen Hatmaker said in her review…”As you turn the very last page, your soul is yearning for God, and you know that he will be found.” This book made me hungry again in a deeper way for the God who dwells in mystery and yet reveals Himself to us in the most unexpected ways.Spiritual memoirs are one of my favorite genres, because memoirs aren’t about dogma, but about questions and discovery, the getting it wrong and learning and growing and transformation. In Preston’s book the layout is as cyclical as his thoughts making the series of events a bit hard to follow (even though I’m familiar with this form of thinking after living long in Central Europe). Still, I might have preferred a more linear layout, even while I appreciate the thoughtful style chosen by the author. So, I’d recommend that you be prepared to wander in and out of events as you follow the questions rather than the timeline.Yancey quotes his father as saying: “To tell a story is an act of worship. To be entrusted with a story is an act of holiness.” I am thankful that Yancey chose to tell his story and I know that in taking hold of it I have entered a holy space. I put down the book grateful for a glimpse of another journey, one that looks nothing and everything like my own journey into a deeper knowing of the God who is “Big and wide and a little wild.”This book is perhaps not for “chess player” who views faith in clear distinctions of black, white and set rules and regulations. This book is for the poets, the ones who embrace the Mystery, the ones who have perhaps already walked through their own dark night of the soul. If you are willing to enter into the “kaleidoscope” where the pieces of color never change, but instead re-arrange themselves into the discovery of new pictures and unfolding (yet ancient) patterns, then this book is for you.I received a free galley of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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  • Emily Brady
    January 1, 1970
    Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost and Found Again by Preston Yancey was one of the coolest books I've read in a while. I was in the mood for fiction, but didn't find anything that looked appealing at the time. So I chose the non-fiction story of Preston Yancey's journey of coming to grips with his own faith and how that may or may not fit with the faith in which he was raised.The book is a reflection of his journey that mostly took place during his college years at Baylor Uni Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost and Found Again by Preston Yancey was one of the coolest books I've read in a while. I was in the mood for fiction, but didn't find anything that looked appealing at the time. So I chose the non-fiction story of Preston Yancey's journey of coming to grips with his own faith and how that may or may not fit with the faith in which he was raised.The book is a reflection of his journey that mostly took place during his college years at Baylor University in Texas.At first I found myself wondering how deep a book this could be because of his young age, but I was wrong. The issues he struggles with – doubt, the ability to hear God, the sacraments, religious arrogance, etc. - are issues that are not age-specific, but more a function of a person who is very serious and thoughtful about his faith. It was an engaging read that I enjoyed far more than I thought I would.There are several highlights of this book, one of which is Yancey's writing style. Tables in the Wilderness reads very much like you are being invited to hear the confession of a friend. It is written in a way that makes you feel for the author and want to know how everything turns out for him.Another highlight is the “Suggested Reading” list he includes in the back of the book. I've already spent some time looking through to see what looks interesting to me and making a list of some I'd like to read. There is also a list of questions at the back of the book that would make this useful for a reading group.One of the drawbacks, which may just be particular to me, was the little bit of difficulty I had in keeping track of all the other people in the book. For the most part he calls them only by their first names, and aside from the “main players,” I had a hard time remembering who was who. Truthfully, it was not that much of a hinderance, but I figured it would be worth mentioning.While I started my book search looking for fiction, what I found was a non-fiction story with every bit the narrative satisfaction I was searching for.
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