Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tony Campolo and other writers reflect on my book, Embracing the Gray

Along with all of the enthusiastic feedback from readers on Amazon.com about my book, Embracing the Gray: A Wing, A Prayer, and A Doubter’s Resolve, there have also been many positive reviews from other writers.  Here are some of those reflections…

Embracing the Gray provides a description of someone who has shied away from simplistic Christianity. Mark Hollingsworth carries us through his spiritual highs and lows as he relates his journey towards a mature faith and lifestyle. Those of us who know next to nothing about the contemporary music scene can learn much about the messages of what a younger generation devours. Mark understands this world, and artists he has known and been influenced by help give poetic weight as we read through this memoir. He is an excellent storyteller, but the reader should not think that Mark’s stories are only told to entertain. They have layered meanings and lead to thoughtful reflections. Embracing the Gray gets two enthusiastic thumbs up from me.
-Tony Campolo (author of 37 books, world-renowned speaker)

I have known Mark for quite a few years now and his interest and sensitivity have always impressed me. However, Embracing the Gray goes much deeper into the waters of this brave heart. Mark has a communicational style that is both conversational and poetic; a union of the heart and mind that is at once compelling, challenging and inspirational. I highly recommend the book and the man. 
-Neal Morse (Author of Testimony, recording artist, song writer, producer of 11 solo albums, and 12 others with Spocks’ Beard, Transatlantic, and Flying Colors)

Check out the book, Embracing the Gray, by long-time friend Mark Hollingsworth—all-around world-saver and critical figure in the history of spiritual music. We traveled some of the same spiritual search together. I highly endorse it.
-Kerry Livgren (Author of Seeds of Change, primary songwriter, guiatrist, and keyboardist for Kansas)

Listening and Telling. We all have a story; but not all of us have paid much care or attention to it. Mark Hollingsworth has listened to his story well, and he has given us the gift of sharing what he's heard. Humorous. Poignant. Hopeful. Riddled with sorrow in some places and drenching with joy in others, Embracing the Gray is well worth your time. 
-Winn Collier (author of Holy Curiosity, Restless Faith, Deeper Walk, and regular contributor to Relevant Magazine)

The glorious paradox of no-nonsense faith. Anyone who has spent a few hours around Mark Hollingsworth knows his conversational references to culture, politics, the Good Book and the good fight span a really broad horizon. Hollingsworth has also led a truly fascinating life, and has the wit and word-smithing at his disposal to make his journey into a really entertaining read. Embracing the Gray is a delightful, sometimes dizzying account of Mark's adventures that demonstrates his gifts as a cultural commentator and a writer worth reading. Hollingsworth pulls no punches as he rolls through episodes of his life in the music industry and ministry to the poor, rubbing shoulders with rock royalty and desperately at-risk children, and coming of age between Vietnam and Van Halen. Having said all that, I've barely scratched the surface of the remarkable range of subjects Hollingsworth addresses with unflinching honesty-- and then draws a beeline to his faith, and how all that experience helped develop him into a truly authentic, thoughtful Jesus-follower. As pastor of a rowdy bunch of mostly Millennials (roughly 18-30 years of age), I am highly recommending Embracing the Gray to them because it provides them a wonderful tool: an example of how to think about faith, as opposed to simply what to think about faith. And to my Boomer contemporaries? Buy it for yourself. If you're a fan of Jesus, contemporary music, social action, Petra, Rush (the group; maybe not Limbaugh for this book), or needing to know that someone else has been through the pain of helping their parents shed the mortal coil with love and dignity, read this book. Then do your grown kids a favor and give it to them to read. (If you're sensitive to salty language, be warned that it makes an occasional appearance in this book. Thus the encouragement to make it available to your "grown children." But please, put some U2 on in the background and read it anyway. You really won't regret it.)
-Steve Wamberg (author of Pinocchio Nation, Surviving a Prodigal, and more)

Simply stunning. Honestly, Mark's life runs parallel to the film "Almost Famous," only it's more exciting. I won't ruin any of the surprises, but I guarantee you'll have several moments where you say to yourself "I can't believe all this happened to one person."  The only book I've ever read with a meeting with U2, and an incident with a drunken, suicidal gunman live just pages apart. And both are true. Loved it!           
-Seth Hurd (author of Hip Hope and Jr. College, What Becky Didn’t Want, and A Grammatical Corrector)

The most engaging, hilarious, gut-wrenching, and inspiring book I've read in a long time. Thanks!
-Zach Bevill (songwriter, lead singer, guitarist for The Farewell Drifters)

What a wonderful piece of writing!  You are a GREAT writer, Bro!  Funny, inspiring, thought provoking, challenging...these are all words I would use to describe this book. I feel enriched after reading it. I laughed out loud on a few of those stories! I hope this is just the first of many. I think it will sell a ton.  Thank you!
                        -Bob Hartman (primary songwriter, and lead guitarist for Petra)
I have known Mark for a few years and have read his blog regularly in that time. I have seen and experienced first hand his own willingness to live his faith in an open, honest way, including not just the good times, but the hard questions and difficult circumstances. If you are looking for happy-go-lucky, pat on the back, feel-good themed book, you may want to pick up one of those fluff books. If, however, you want a book that will affirm your own struggles, is easy to read, and at the same time challenges you to take seriously the concepts of God, spirituality and help you in times where you may feel all alone, I couldn't recommend anything as much as Embracing the Gray. Mark writes from a place of honesty that many of us could learn from; his life has been an example; his words will inspire and challenge.
-Mike Furches (author of The Keystone Kid, and columnist for HollywoodJesus.com)

This book is some very beautiful fruit from some very tough seasons in Hollingsworth’s life. 
                        -Kim Thomas (author of Living in the Sacred Now, Finding Your Way
                        Through Grief, and Even God Rested)

A soulful memoir. This is a bold first hand account of the life (thus far!) of Christian music manager and non-profit marketing luminary Mark Hollingsworth. His 3+ decades traveling the globe with performers, friends, and even a few strangers leave a wake of wild stories and one-of-a-kind exchanges. Each chapter explores the soul of a man wrestling with deep doubts, yet also gnawing convictions. In particular, his account of time spent with the young U2 harmonizes book-long themes of tattered, yet intact faith, parsed against diamond-splitting honesty. A read that will inspire thought, and be a reminder of grace. 
                        -Geoff Little (author of Summers)

Mark and I both kind of march to the beat of our own funky drum kit--which is why I'm excited to promote his new book: Embracing the Gray. Mark is one of those admirable, honest Christians who thinks with his heart and his funny bone both engaged and he's one heck of a great writer! You don't wanna miss this one!
                        -Paul Johnson (Dove Award winning composer, producer, artist)

I read Embracing the Gray and what a lovely trip the read turned out to be!  Not only is Mark a keen observer of every person he has ever met, but with great honesty he opens himself up to observation, too. Mark's insightful use of the lyrics of songs to which this seventy- something lady had never paid attention opened a window into the realm of 'young' music and to a place that happened long after I was grown up.   Finally, I've always known that my world was too black and white (just ask my kids!) and I am very grateful for this sometimes painful yet often joyously lighthearted reminder to embrace, not just tolerate what is, and may well remain, quite gray. I very much loved Embracing the Gray.
-Peggy Campolo (contributor for Sojourners, Youthworker Journal, Wittenburg Door, and more)

Mark Hollingsworth has written an awesome book titled Embracing the Gray. It's got wonderful stories about his meetings with U2, Kerry Livgren (Kansas) and his life's journey. Honestly, I couldn't put it down and I highly recommend it.
                        -Rick Altizer (songwriter, recording artist, producer)

On a lazy American Thanksgiving I read through Mark Hollingsworth's EMBRACING THE GRAY and was compelled by the frank honesty that he brought to both his writing and his spiritual journey. There is something wonderfully liberating in coming to grips with our humanness while we still attempt to connect with the Almighty. I resonated most fully with
Mark on this point, that somewhere in his early twenties he found it necessary to lay aside all pretense and simply be honest about his faith (or, at times, lack thereof). I read somewhere that stories are equipment for living, and I am appreciative that Mark has laid out some of his here. Everyone's life contains scripture, a sacred text of their interaction with the Almighty, whether they be conscious of it or not. And Mark's story recounts the full embrace of life's experiences up against the backdrop of a searching soul desperate to make sense of the sometimes elusive fingerprints of grace. 
-David Disabitino (screenwriter, director of Frisbie, The Outlaw Larry Norman)

Amazing stories from one of my true heroes.
                        -John Thompson (author of Raised by Wolves, and editor of True
                        Tunes magazine)

I read the whole book in one sitting. It is fabulous. Meaty stuff. Funny stuff. Encouraging stuff. Mark openly wrestles with so many things that are common to one seeking a relationship with the Creator. My take away was to stay in the Eternal Now with the Ever Present One.
-Pam Mark Hall (songwriter, recording artist)

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!
-Rick Elias (songwriter, recording artist, producer)

I continue to be humbled by the response the book is generating.  If you have read it and wish to correspond with me, I always interact with any communiqu├ęs.   You can also peruse many reader reviews (97% are Five Stars) at:

Embracing the Gray is still available for a limited time as a 99 cent Kindle download at that same link, or as a free PDF download at my website (donations accepted):

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