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5 Stars Out Of 5
February 24, 2010
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.
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'!
"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.
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.
Each time I read one of Margaret Feinberg's books I think "She won't top this one. THIS is my favorite." And the same is true with Scouting the Diving. Once again Margaret's voice captured me immediately and carried me through straight to the end. I love that this book gives me insight into some very detailed aspects of some of the most familiar concepts used throughout the Old and New Testament. I appreciated Margaret and Leif's willingness to hit the road to meet and spend time with people who have hands on experience as shepherds, farmers, vintners, and beekeepers just to find additional insight for not only the author but also for the reader. Some of the highlights for me included: (1) Seeing the tenderness of the shepherd Lynn with her sick and orphaned lambs and being reminded that God loves me even more than Lynn loves her sheep; (2) The reminder about the dedication it takes for a farmer to stay the course during rough/lean harvest years and wait on God's timing helped me to remember that my timing is not always Gods; (3) The amazing complexity of a beehive was astounding. I have continued to think about the idea that every bee has a role within a season and that sometimes the role of the bee can even change;(4) I so needed to hear someone say that it is okay for 2 vintners to have different goals such as quality versus quantity and that there is a place for both. Most of all I'm grateful for the reminder from Margaret (and from God) that He is still in love with His creation and will not ever abandon it. Margaret has a sweet and fun voice in her writing that makes you feel as though you are along for the ride. I appreciate her candor and willingness to express her own areas of struggle to the reader. I will be giving this book as a gift this holiday season and be looking forward to facilitating a Bible study about this book in the future.