Karen Spears Zacharias is as straight-forward, frank, honest, pointed, and genuine as I am redundant.
She doesn’t seem to hold back in the least bit, she calls it as she sees it and does it in a very down to earth kinda way! I do have to agree with Publisher Weekly in that her book is, “long on stories but short on theology, pointed in criticism yet lost in indignation. Some may wish for a more reasoned approach…”
Nevertheless, there is much to love about this book!
Publisher Weekly posted the following review of her most recent book on their website:
Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide? (’Cause I Need More Room for My Plasma TV) Karen Spears Zacharias. Zondervan, $16.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-310-29250-0
Zacharias (Where’s Your Jesus Now?) pours on the Southern charm in this not-so-gentle diatribe against what she calls the “golden-calf theology” in America. “There are a lot of folks prancing around treating the Bible like an algebra book and God like their personal banker,” Zacharias writes, and she is out to find them. She lambastes folks like an unnamed evangelist and adults who exploit children to make money off the faithful, while also sharing stories like that of Sister Schubert and an unnamed Marine, who live with generosity and faith. Zacharias will draw chortles with her colloquialisms and colorful language—“he has a buttload of money”—but she also exposes how “we’ve started mistaking Christianity for capitalism.” The book is long on stories but short on theology, pointed in criticism yet lost in indignation. Some may wish for a more reasoned approach, but none will argue with the solution: “Stop imagining all the ways in which the universe can serve you and start figuring out how you can serve others.” (Mar.) http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/447751-Nonfiction_Reviews_2_8_2010.php
Karen Zacharias’ new book takes issue with the ‘prosperity gospel,’ in which prayer is used to ask for riches
February 20, 2010, 3:33PM
Forty years ago, in the bedroom of a single-wide trailer in Columbus, Ga., 13-year old Karen Spears — now Karen Spears Zacharias — knelt in despair and beseeched God to come into her life.
Young Karen had suffered a terrible tragedy: Her soldier father, David Spears, had been killed in Vietnam when she was 9 and the loss had taken a heavy toll on the family.
“My mother shut down emotionally with the Lord,” recalls Zacharias, a journalist and author, looking back on her childhood. “She felt betrayed by God.”
But Zacharias, inspired by a youth pastor, prayed to God at the time: “I ask you to come into my heart, cleanse my sins, be my Lord.”
“I was crying,” she remembers.
Storyteller, editorial writer and author of a provocative new book on God and money, “Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide?” Zacharias’s faith has only deepened from that transforming moment in a Georgia trailer park.
She also came to understand the spiritual journey of her remarkable mother, Shelby.
Her first book, a memoir in 2005, was “After the Flag Has Been Folded: A Daughter Remembers the Father She Lost to War — and the Mother Who Held Her Family Together.”
Her second, in 2008, plunged into the post-9/11 psyche of America: “Where’s Your Jesus Now? Examining How Fear Erodes Our Faith.”
Zacharias’s new book is both a foray into her personal feelings about prayer and money — having had little of the latter when young — and into stories of people who offer “parables,” she says, that illustrate her theme.
She sees her work as a “corrective” to what’s known as the “prosperity gospel,” or as she writes: “We treat God like a slot machine, yanking on the prayer cable, hoping that the triple 7s will appear.”
William Paul Young, author of mega-selling “The Shack,” gives this dustjacket endorsement: “If the prosperity gospel had a heart, Karen has stomped that sucker flat.”
There is no endorsement from the hugely popular televangelist Joel Osteen. Indeed, Osteen is one of the purveyors, Zacharias says, of the notion that prayer can bring down riches on one’s head.
“Joel Osteen is a good man,” she says, “but wrong about the message he’s giving.”
“The folksy Osteen,” she writes in her book, “comes across as harmless but the gospel he’s selling isn’t. The wounded in this world are dying and despairing by the thousands while prosperity preachers are offering up home-brewed remedies of Entitlement theology. These charlatans are selling salve to the sick when salvation is what people really need to fix what’s ailing them.”
She also takes issue with interpretations of Bruce Wilkinson’s monumental bestseller, “The Prayer of Jabez,” that prayer being, in part: “Oh, that you would bless me, indeed, and enlarge my territory.”
The “increase in territory,” Zacharias says, is about the spiritual presence in one’s heart, not financial domain.
In person, Zacharias is easy-going, amiable, both a widely-traveled writer and a country gal who claims to “speak two languages — English and hillbilly.”
A resident of Oregon, where she and husband Tim raised their four children, she has spent considerable time back in the Deep South.
She did part of her research for “Will Jesus Buy Me a Double-Wide?” while living in Fairhope as writer-in-residence at the Center for Writing Arts.
One of her chapters is titled, “The Bookseller,” inspired, she says, by the faith, in tough financial times, of the owners of Page & Palette Books in Fairhope.
On March 11, Zacharias will do a signing at Page & Palette (see fyi box).
Another chapter, “The Jubilee,” recounts her joy at experiencing a jubilee of flounders and crabs in Mobile Bay.
In study questions Zacharias has added to the back of her book, she suggests a study topic for the jubilee chapter: “Consider Leviticus 25:8 17. Contrast the biblical definition of Jubilee to that of the current teachings in the church regarding Jubilee. How do they differ?”
For study questions tied to the chapter, “The Redhead,” about the struggle of a close friend with cancer, she suggests: “Have you ever struggled with the death of a loved one? What good is the God of prosperity in such moments?”
Zacharias emphasizes that she is not romanticizing what it means to be poor. “I’m not in favor of poverty, having lived it!”
But “the obligation” for bringing in income, she says, “is on us, not on God.
“God is not our sugar daddy.”
She says she offers the same prayer for every book she publishes. “I’m not asking God to make this a bestseller,” but to “make the book everything you intend for it to be. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
In addition to faith, and love of family, and writing, what else keeps her going?
Her eyes fill with tears as she becomes that 9-year old girl again, hearing news of her father’s death in battle.
“I try to live my life so my father would be as proud of me” — she pauses, wiping at her eyes as the tears quicken — “as I am of him.