May 22, 2008

I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt - A Book You Need to Read

I just finished reading this book by Vince Antonucci. I received it in the mail a few weeks ago from my involvement with the Catalyst Filter. I was intrigued by the title and the raw honesty in the first few pages, so I decided to give it a try. It was an honest and interesting read.

The subtitle of the book is "Replacing Souvenir Religion with Authentic Spiritual Passion." The purpose of the book is to challenge the reader to run from inauthentic Christianity that is full of cliches, fake smiles, and phony faith. Instead, the author challenges us to run towards a life of abiding in Jesus and letting his life flow through us.

The premise of the book was a girl named Emily that the author saw one day. The little girl was wearing a t-shirt that said "My parents went to Florida and all I got was this lousy t-shirt." It started him thinking that most Christians are wearing shirts that show a false and inauthentic form of Christianity. Antonucci brings a fresh perspective to Christianity. His father is a professional gambler and his mother was Jewish. He grew up in the northeast with no exposure to the message of Christ. He stumbled across Jesus through an encounter with an old preacher on television that intrigued him. He began to read the Bible and gave his life to Christ. No "Four Spiritual Laws" tract. No "turn or burn" presentation. Just the life transforming power of the Word.

Antonucci traces his spiritual pilgrimage as a new Christian in his young adulthood. His writing is laced with sarcasm at the weirdness and phony personas that most Christians try to uphold. He appears to have serious ADD because as he starts to illustrate a point, he diverts to a two page story or rant that has little to do with what he is talking about. At other times his stories of his family or the strange things that happened to him serve well to illustrate his points. He tells of trying to throw up out a car window at 65 miles per hour only to have it come back in and hit his wife in the face. He also tells of chasing his dog through the neighborhood only to chase him into the road to be hit by a car. All in all, his stories are amusing and informing.

Antonucci pastors Forefront Church in Virginia Beach. His passion is to be a church leader who leads people who don't like church. He is definitely different. The verdict is still out on how well of a leader he will be, but his voice is a welcome addition to the movement that is crying out for Christians to become more authentic. This would be a good summer read. Pick it up.