Scouting The Divine: My Search For God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey
Margaret Feinbergs Scouting the Divine is a gem by someone unabashedly in love with stories, especially the Story of the Bible. This was my first encounter with Feinberg; it wont be my last.Feinberg loves Scripture, loves the stories and the tangled mess of messy characters in the Bible. But shes keenly aware that the 21st century is a much different place than agrarian ancient Israel. There are few shepherds roaming the American hills, and though many Americans love their alcohol, few see the patient process of wine making. Feinberg set out to change some of that with Scouting the Divine.She travels cross-country to experience firsthand the origins of wool, wheat, wild honey and wine. Spending time with a shepherd and her sheep, Feinberg hopes to better understand the numerous biblical references to shepherding, like describing God as Shepherd of Gods people. In Nebraska she reconnects with the earthiness of farming, a favorite field of metaphors for Jesus himself (cf. the parable of the sower, for example). In Colorado she visits a bee keeper, attempting to grasp what Old Testament writers meant by calling Israels promised land, Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. Finally, Feinberg tramps into Napa Valley California to learn about the craft of winemaking. Feinberg is a gifted, lyrical writer, giving just the right amount of attention to each experience. Her earthy, hands-on engagement is the strength of Scouting the Divine. Without writing obsessively long and self-important theology (ironic as that may seem), she gives us a second-hand glimpse into the context of biblical stories and metaphors. She brings the Story to life. By books end, I wanted one finger in a fresh jar of honey and the other holding a glass of red wine.Nevertheless, I wholeheartedly endorse Scouting the Divine. Its a great book by a good writer. Best of all, itll make you hungry for the words of life found in Scripture.
February 24, 2010
I loved this book! Most of the Christian books that I read have an 'educational' overtone that teach principles, facts, and Godly insight into the scriptures. This book not only does that but does so in a way that you imagine yourself in the hands of the great Shephard, alongside the beekeeper, and walking in the fields of the farmer and vitner. I can not wait to take a group of young girls to a local herder and let them experience the joy of sheep and teach them about the wonderments of God as we tread through 'sheep poo'!
January 3, 2010
"Scouting the Divine" is Scripture-focused and a fast, enjoyable read. About half of the book was spent describing (in a "as it happened" style) how she found the expert, arriving and getting to know the expert, and what the author's day with them was like. She then would ask the shepherd/farmer/beekeeper/vintner questions about verses in the Bible that related to sheep and shepherding, farming, beekeeping, and growing grapes. They would answer, and she'd then apply what she learned to bring out insights about the Bible.Though I've read books on these topics before, the author still brought new insights to the subject. The sheep and vineyard sections were especially good. I'm a farmer, and I felt that the farm section could have been more insightful. I also didn't entirely agree with the farmers' take on one parable (about the tares), though the lesson they derived was Bible-based. The honey section didn't have much of a Bible-application section since there's not much about honey in the Bible, but what was there was interesting.Though the author was asking these questions of a modern shepherd, etc., she did research the ancient practices and brought up the differences where she knew about them. Overall, I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants further insight into the parables, metaphors, and events of the Bible.
December 7, 2009
Margaret Feinberg's "Scouting the Divine" is a delightful read. She gracefully navigates through her encounters with a shepherdess and her sheep, a farmer and his crops, a beekeeper and his bees, and a vinter and his vineyards, with a transparency that causes the reader to experience some what she experienced. Narration and spiritual insight are delicately interwoven so that God becomes tangible rather than distant, paralelling the style of Jesus' teaching during His years on earth.While reading this book a reader can expect to be impacted according to their unique situation. As a farmer's daughter, despite my awareness of many of the details explored in Margaret's visit to a farm, my appreciation for them was deepened through her perspective. Misguided in my judgements of myself and others because of my judgments of sheep, Margaret's description of her visit with a shepherdess transformed what I saw as faults to be despised into reasons to receive and pass on love. My ignorant fear of bees, as a result of Margaret's interaction with them, has turned into a fascination with and fondness of honey. And through Margaret's insightful exploration of a vineyard, my dispair at difficult circumstances or unrighteous character was offered hope for change and future productivity.My sentiments of Margaret's book, "Scouting the Divine," echo her's of visiting a sheperdess, on page 68: "my weekend with the shepherd did more than open my eyes to passages of Scripture; it opened my heart anew to God." Margaret connects these spatterings of truths throughout the book into a personal conclusion that highlights how what she learned on her excursions has impacted her. Anyone willing to follow her example of receptivity to truth evident in this visceral collection of experiences, can expect to be refreshed, enlightened, and exhorted.
November 27, 2009