Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Monty Python meets C.S Lewis" and more Five Star Amazon reviews of "Embracing the Gray"

The thoughtful and passionate reviews of Embracing the Gray: A Wing, A Prayer, and A Doubter’s Resolve, are still pouring in.  I continue to be humbled by these responses, and am encouraged to keep the book available as a free PDF download at my website ( as well a 99 cent Kindle download at Amazon (

Here are some more of the reviews that have come in the past few weeks:

Great writer, great person, hysterically funny, intellectual, & has such a heart for missions. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially cynics. Mark has a wonderful way with words - kind of like CS Lewis meets Monty Python. A must-read.

Personal. Passionate.  Provocative. It's rare to find a book that evokes such a variety of emotions and experiences - pain, relief, despair, hope, grit, courage, compassion, humor, discovery, mystery. Because of the diversity of the stories written in this book, there is diversity in what you experience and gain from reading it.

If you're looking for a book that delivers nicely wrapped answers to all of the complex questions of life, faith, God's love and character OR you're trying to find the right way to walk through a life of faith in a world that often produces more questions than answers, you won't find it in this book. What you will find is a read that leads you down roads of questions and eventually to a place where you become comfortable with mystery and God's great love for us.

Brilliantly and courageously written, creative (C'mon! How many writers come up with nine different ways to say screaming baby?!?), humorous and profound, you won't be able to put this book down!

Mark Hollingsworth's writing is personal allowing the reader to walk with him through his questions and feeling a part of the journey. There was a sense of a kindred spirit as I read Embracing the Gray that allowed me to learn and gain from Mark's life and experiences. Reading the book was a gift.

Love this book! Mark has written a touching and at times hysterical memoir. In particular though, the account of his brother's troubled relationship with his family was quite moving. These are stories of love, faith, loss, and joy that only a writer as adept and honest as Mark could make so three dimensional as to jump off the page. Well worth your time!

Finding God in all things. Mark Hollingsworth writes eloquently about his international experiences--with the "little survivors (ti chape)" in Haiti, for instance, and a small probable rape victim named Mercy in Nairobi's teeming Methere Valley slum. But his writing is even more effective when he describes personal encounters closer to home--with Andy, a despondent house mate who alternates between swigs of Jim Beam and a large caliber handgun he places in his mouth, for instance, and Gwen, a homeless schizophrenic suffering from AIDS whom Mark suddenly encounters at his house in Nashville. His extended meditation on the passing of his father is remarkably compelling.

Early on Mark's small town, family-bred faith weathered crises brought on by the deaths of three boyhood friends and then his brother Jim along with the frequent spiritual dilemmas that afflict college-age young people. Mark's approach to the questions he faced was mindful of St. Augustine: "Let us, on both sides, lay aside all arrogance. Let us not, on either side, claim that we have already discovered the truth."

To his vast credit, Mark refused to settle for pat answers to questions of Time, the World and God. Instead, he undertook a lifelong quest for the path--the "gray" that lies somewhere, somehow between the extremes of blinding light and pure darkness. As one trained in a Jesuit environment, I recognized in Mark's story the classic steps of "finding God in all things," which begins with paying attention to our own inner lives and of the people and the world around us. Like St. Ignatius Mark found a mixture of light and dark, ideas and feelings, things that gave him joy and things that saddened him. Mark has detailed a rich tapestry that has grown more complex the more he has allowed it to register on his awareness.

Finally--in his work with Compassion, and particularly with this book--Mark has followed the ultimate precept, to communicate what he has learned and to participate wholeheartedly in the transformation of the world.

The best book I’ve read in the past ten years! Mark Hollingsworth’s stories and experiences with life and bands hits very close to home, in fact I know for some of the stories, I was in the same room. His insights though, are much deeper than my own, and really impacted me. He writes so effortlessly, and I read Embracing the Gray in just two days. I have re-read it twice now. Simply a great writer, a great book, and the message is timeless.
-G. M. J.

Once you have read the book, be sure to post a review at Amazon, and let me know your thoughts.  I appreciate interactions with my readers.  : )


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