Sin Boldly: A field guide for grace

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By Cathleen Falsani (Zondervan, 2008)As a journalist covering my own faith, I often question my “objectivity.” Can I report on the Kenyan church (see cover story) and keep the people I met there at arm’s length? Chicago Sun-Times religion reporter Cathleen Falsani would answer no. In trying to be impartial, I might miss moments of grace.

Falsani doesn’t let any such moments pass unnoticed and has recorded her experiences in Sin Boldly: A Field Guide for Grace. Rather than theological discussions of grace, she reflects on how she has encountered God’s grace—which she defines as “getting what you absolutely don’t deserve”—both in her work and everyday life.

While her stories include befriending an elderly nun while on assignment as a cub reporter and visiting Kibera, a slum I also visited in Kenya, the book isn’t just for journalists. “This is a book primarily for people who say they’ve never experienced grace, that it doesn’t exist,” she says. Her personal reflections make readers evaluate how they might have experienced grace as well.

Falsani is a born-again Christian, but she is not holier-than-thou. She is comfortable revealing moments in which she isn’t at her best. “Life is beautiful, and I’m an idiot who doesn’t deserve any of it,” she writes.

For example, once when she felt in “the skunks,” as she describes writer’s block, being caught by surprise in a summer storm freed her. “I laughed at the ridiculousness of hiding from the rain when it doesn’t matter if I get wet. At the foolishness of trying to get it right all the time. At the fragility of my ego, so worried about being judged by eyes that aren’t even there. At the joy of the moment,” she reminisces.

Not all readers might see grace where Falsani does. Still, Sin Boldly reminds us that nobody is perfect. We all have moments when nothing seems to be going right, and it is in these moments that grace might be hiding.