Encountering God by Mark A. Johnson
Reflections on the Courtship Letters of My Religious Parents

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"Johnson shares his parents’ courtship letters. Ultimately, the book feels disjointed. Historical tidbits help anchor the story in time, but his interspersed comments about his parents feel random. Given the jumble of ideas presented, readers are on their own to decide what to take away from the experience."
-BlueInk Review

Synopsis

Walter met Margaret at a church outing at summer’s end when she was visiting her sister in Greeley, Colorado. Shortly afterwards, Margaret returned to Washburn, North Dakota to direct choral groups and teach high school English. They married thirteen months later. Aside from two brief visits, their courtship unfolds entirely in their letters.
The intimate imaginings of these Victorian holdovers, often cloaked in allusion and innuendo, though not racy, were seldom dull, often humorous and sometimes surprisingly frank. While seeking to gauge the other’s commitment and concerns, they waited for the mailman to bring an envelope containing their lover’s response—a minimum of two days, usually three or four. The Great War of their childhood and the Great Depression of their early twenties is fresh in their minds. The letters are a look into the cultural and political concerns of two Western farming communities in the fall and early winter of 1937 when the economy tanks and Germany again mobilizes for war.
Five years after they were married, I became the fourth of their eight children. I can speak to their faith. God came across in their daily lives through worship, prayers, praise and thankfulness. Possibly as a result, I grew up with a deep-seated awareness, but an unresolved sense of God. As a teenager, I often pondered the joy my parents found in each other in the midst of what was to me an unrelenting financial struggle. One day, I asked Dad, “Why are you a Christian?” He replied, “When you can show me a better way to live, I’ll consider that.”
Their love of nature, their openness to questions, and their interest in spiritual matters played a large part in my becoming both a scientist and a spiritual seeker. Their letters surfaced after their funerals. Long before I probed Dad with my questions, their answers were in the letters.
As they build a foundation for spiritual intimacy letter by letter, they reveal the breadth and depth of the joys and challenges faced by Christian soulmates falling in love and working out the keys to a fun-fulfilled life together. Their takes on life and on God are colored by the remembrances and musings of a dedicated scientist and intrigued spiritual seeker. Their keys to joy can be adapted to the needs and interests of the reader by pondering the thought provoking questions included at the end of each chapter.
 

About Mark A. Johnson

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Mark Johnson has published numerous scientific papers and coedited the book "Concepts and Applications of Molecular Similarity." He has been an elder at a large Lutheran Church and a large Reformed Church. As a seeker, he has experienced spiritually transformative moments. "Encountering God" is his first book in which he touches upon the complimentarity of religious and scientific views of ones world. He blogs at FindYOURTuningFork.wordpress.com.
 
Published September 19, 2015 by Living Parables Incorportated. 186 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Encountering God
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Kirkus

Good
on Aug 19 2015

...Johnson makes them work, and the result is a moving glimpse into a very different time and place. A surprisingly winning long-distance love story.

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BlueInk Review

Below average
on Jan 11 2016

"Johnson shares his parents’ courtship letters. Ultimately, the book feels disjointed. Historical tidbits help anchor the story in time, but his interspersed comments about his parents feel random. Given the jumble of ideas presented, readers are on their own to decide what to take away from the experience."

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