Saturday, December 24, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Eerdmans recently interviewed me about my new book, Not Sure: A Pastor's Journey from Faith to Doubt. I've never been able to speak off of the top of my head as well as I can write, but I do think these turned out pretty good. Check them out!
Interview with John Suk about faith and doubt
Monday, December 5, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Bob Cornwall, a Disciples of Christ pastor, Fuller Grad, and church historian from Troy, Michigan, has written a review of my book, Not Sure: A Pastor's Journey from Faith to Doubt on his blog. Very thoughtful. Check it out at http://pastorbobcornwall.blogspot.com/2011/11/not-sure-by-john-suk-review.html
I have two upcoming events, one in Grand Rapids, and the other in Sarnia, Ontario!
I'll be talking about my book at Eerdmans in Grand Rapids, this Thursday at 7 pm. They are located at 2140 Oak Industrial Dr., NE. We expect a great crowd.
The next day I'll be in Sarnia, Ontario, giving a talk and signing books at The Green Room, DeGroot's Nursery, London Rd., at 8 pm. There will be goodies, too!
I'd love to see many old friends and acquaintances at these two events. Come on out!
Monday, November 7, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
The provincial election is just around the corner. I’ve been thinking about how to vote. Naturally, my values and faith contribute to my decision. So I’ve come up with a list of Ten Commandments for voters. The focus is on Provincial issues, so you won’t find much here about Federal matters such as trade, defense, foreign aid, or pensions. But there is still a lot of ground to cover.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
The introduction to my book, Not Sure: A Pastor's Journey from Faith to Doubt, is available by clicking the title link. The introduction explains why I value doubt, and tells (in part) the story of how I arrived at that conclusion. Check it out!
You can order the book from Eerdmans.com, or Amazon.com or .ca. You can also buy it at, or order through your local bookstore.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I wish I could be afraid. Like Peter was afraid, once.
It happened this way. One day, after a fruitless night of fishing, Jesus told Peter to throw the nets out on the other side of the boat. Peter thought, "No way. Wrong place; wrong time." But to humor Jesus — who had, after all, just healed his mother-in-law — Peter did as he was told. And according to the story Luke tells, Peter caught a huge load of fish. It seemed a miracle.
The next thing Peter knew, he was stepping out of the boat and falling on his knees before Jesus. Something about what had just happened — something about Jesus — terrified him. So Peter said, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man."
I wish I could be afraid like that. Even if it only happened once, for a minute, I wish I could feel the breath sucked out of me like Peter’s must have been when he guessed, before he had words to say it, that Jesus was the Christ, of God (Luke 9:20).
This is why: my life is all about Jesus. I have gone to church all my life. I spent twenty years going to Christian schools, including seminary. I now preach about Jesus weekly. I pray to him daily. He is rarely far from my thoughts.
Yet I have never held his hand. I have never laid eyes on his face. I have not put my hands in his wounds. I have not heard him preach. I can't get him to slap me on the back or pass the wine or even to tell me where to fish. He seems distant — almost unreal. Just once, just for a moment, I'd like to taste that mysterious, awful, painful, fear that seized Peter when he guessed who Jesus really was.
I don't know how exactly to say it. I think this would be a good fear, even if I could only hold onto it for a minute or two. A good fear — maybe like the longing fear a virginal bride and a virginal groom have at the foot of their wedding night bed as a whole new world of intimacy and trust opens up to them.
I think Peter's fear must be something like that of a teacher facing her first classroom alone. She trusts her training and doesn't doubt her skills, but she is terrified by the enormity of her job and all the kids she'll help shape. She's just one, all alone, at the beginning of the rest of her life.
I think this fear is something like the fear that those who love extreme sports look for. They want a rush, a brush with death, the exhilaration of being on the verge of losing it even as they know they will make it to the other side.
This good fear is deeply spiritual. It is rooted in wanting more life than a body can stand, in wanting to look around the corner, at death, maybe even touch it — without having to embrace it.
Some Christians claim to have encountered Jesus in this way — to have tangibly felt his immanence and the holy fear that it inspires. I can’t speak, of course, about the truth or falsehood of anyone else’s claim to have experienced this kind of fear. All I know is that I’ve never felt it. Not like Peter did.
But as I carry on in faith, which for me includes this persistent struggle with doubt and uncertainty, I wish I could know — even for a moment — what Peter felt that day, and what Jesus' words cured.
(This post appeared earlier this week on Eerdword, at http://eerdword.wordpress.com. Check it out!)
Friday, August 19, 2011
Labor Day is just around the corner, and so perhaps you are looking for that one, last great book of the summer. I've read a few, and maybe one of them will appeal to you.
My wife, Irene Oudyk-Suk, is a couples and sex therapist (couplesinstep.ca). One book she asks many of her clients to read (or watch on video) is Canadian therapist Sue Johnson’s “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love.” The book is a popular and practical exposition of the new neuroscience of love. Her approach to therapy is based on John Bowlby's attachment theory, and is usually called Emotionally Focussed Therapy. Don't let the ten-dollar terms scare you, though. This is a very practical and readable book about committed relationships. If you want to figure out how love actually works, pick it up.
One book that has been making waves in Christian circles this summer is Rob Bell’s Love Wins. In this book Bell tries to explain why the heart of Christianity has to be the story of God’s grace, and how the heart of Christianity has nothing to do with eerie tales of hell and punishment. A noted Evangelical leader, his book has upset the status-quo apple cart. You’ll need to read it to make up your own mind, but I thought it was a great read.
My PHD is in Communication Theory. One question receiving a lot of attention in those circles is, “does use of electronic media effect how we think?” Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges’ Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle argues that we have traded the world of ideas for one of “comforting, reassuring images, fantasies, slogans and a celebration of violence.” Stanislas Dehaene’s Reading and the Brain, looks at the issue from the perspective of neuroscience. Amazon just delivered Shane Hipps’ Flickering Pixels: How Technology Shapes Your Faith. I haven't read it yet, but he asks what this all means for Christians who are, after all, supposed to be “people of the word.”
No summer reading list is complete without fiction to fall asleep by--or not! I’m a fantasy and science fiction buff, and really enjoyed reading bestselling George Martin’s A Game of Thrones. This summer I also found Robert Sawyer’s Hominids, which combines my interest in human evolution and sci-fi. Sawyer is easily Canada’s best known science fiction writer. With the upcoming provincial election in the air, I’ve also purchased Terry Fallis’ Best Laid Plans. This book, about the inner machinations of Canadian politics, was CBC Radio’s 2011 Canada Reads contest winner. I'll read it over Labor Day weekend in preparation for Ontario's upcoming provincial election.
Finally, a bit of a dream. I'm trying to talk Irene into retiring to a sailboat--at least for a few years. I'm not sure when we'd do that (I'm thinking soon, Irene wants to wait fifteen years!). But in the meantime, we should probably learn to sail! So I bought, and devoured The Sailing Bible: The Complete Guide for all Sailors. Living on a boat sounds like it could be a blast. Not much in there about being becalmed and swarmed by flies, which I hear is one of the occupational hazards of being out on the great lakes, at least. We'll have to see--maybe Irene and I will try sailing for a week next summer?
What late-summer good-reads would you add?