Nominating a Good Beach Read
Whether you make it to a lake or ocean this summer or not, warm weather is still a good time to kick back and enjoy a good beach read.
If you are looking for an enjoyable trip through the pages (paper or electronic), I nominate the recently released Conspiracy of Grace. As the subtitle says, it’s “A Wild Tale of Transformation.”
Since I did developmental editing of the book, you might think I have a vested interest in its success. Not true. I won’t receive any additional remuneration, no matter how many copies it sells.
Still, I recommend it because it’s one of the best books I’ve worked on over the past 30 years.
A Fascinating Trip
While it contains some heavy and thought-provoking material, I also found it a fascinating trip down Memory Lane.
The author, Dale Fiegland, grew up near Cleveland, Ohio, three hours from my hometown. He also had an interesting background, with his grandparents immigrants from Germany who reconnected after coming to America.
His father was a talented do-it-yourselfer. Although a success in business, Dad also battled alcoholism. After getting in a fistfight with his father, Dale left home in his teens.
While still in high school, he became an enforcer for the local Mafia, collecting debts, roughing up a few people, and generally living an alcohol- and drug-infused lifestyle.
Had his grandfather not offered to pay his first year’s tuition at a Christian college, Dale’s life likely would have taken a much different turn.
As it was, his time there was eventful. It started with a suspension on day one, after he cold-cocked a guy who tried to share his faith with the-then-unbelieving new student.
Yet, it was the examples of authentic Christianity on campus that made Dale think maybe there was something to this “faith talk.”
The decision Dale made to finally follow Christ wouldn’t come until years later.
In the meantime, his post-college years saw him teaching at an inner-city high school in Cleveland. There, his expertise with a switchblade and background in the mean streets earned him a modicum of respect.
It also brought one of the book’s most interesting insights.
It concerned the disciplinary style he experimented with in different classes. They ranged from acting drill-sergeant tough to a soft-spoken, encouraging style, including an occasional touch on the shoulder.
The kinder, gentler style also resulted in the fewest disciplinary problems—a corollary to today’s troubled world.
As fractious debates and problems rage in our land, it’s easy to yield to the temptation to adopt a “get tough” approach in every situation. Dale’s experience says otherwise.
After feeling he was hitting a dead-end in the public school system, the author switched to business, joining his father-in-law in a variety of money-making endeavors.
Ironically, they split after Dale (on the verge of divorce) started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and then decided to follow Christ. The latter allegiance caused a rift between them, although it was later repaired.
Ultimately, Fiegland left behind the business world to become a pastoral counselor at a large church in Florida.
In such a short space, this brief account may make it sound as if this change was a piece of cake.
But a part of the full story illustrates just how dramatic his conversion was. A staff member at his college’s alumni magazine, assigned to write a story on him, called Dale’s house and asked his wife incredulously, “Is he really a pastor?”
This book is a first-hand account of the difference Jesus can make in a person’s life. It’s real. It’s authentic. And it’s a profitable summer read.