Review: The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Faith in Hard Times by Frederick W. Schmidt

Title: The Dave Test
Author: Frederick W. Schmidt
Publication Date: October 15th, 2013
Publisher: Abingdon Press
Genre: Christian Non-Fiction
Pages: 153
Source: Paperback from Publisher


Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
What is the Dave Test? Basic, important, raw questions you can ask yourself when someone you love is suffering, in crisis, unhinged, maybe dying. Before you even think about opening your mouth and blowing chunks of platitudes, or running, or minimizing the painful, do the real work of living, of being a friend: take the Dave Test. Roughly speaking the modern American mindset revolves around this life philosophy: Minimize the painful or unwelcome. Maximize the pleasant and satisfying. If and when the painful or the unwelcome happens, run. Dispense with it as quickly as possible and get back to feeling good. But what if we learn to move past our comfort zones, transcend our own lives and connect with those who suffer? When we truly connect with others, it is all but impossible to insulate ourselves from life's harsher realities. This book is about the dangerous business of exposing our own fragile lives to the mortality of ourselves and others. The Dave Test takes the demand for honesty, plain talk, and faith seriously.”


The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. is an Episcopal Priest, Director of Spiritual Formation and Anglican Studies, and Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality at Southern Methodist University, Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas. Prior to his arrival at SMU, he served as Canon Educator and Director of Programs in Spirituality and Religious Education at Washington National Cathedral; as special assistant to the President and Provost of La Salle University in Philadelphia; as a Fellow of the American Council on Education; and as Dean of St. George's College, Jerusalem. 
In addition he as served as a lecturer in New Testament studies at Oxford University, and as a Tutor in New Testament studies at Keble College, Oxford. He has been a guest lecturer at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland and the Southwestern Medical Center at the University of Texas, Dallas. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, including entries in Doubleday's Anchor Bible Dictionary. 
He is author of A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998); The Changing Face of God (Morehouse-Continuum, 2000); When Suffering Persists (Morehouse-Continuum, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004); Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse-Continuum, 2005); What God Wants for Your Life, Finding Answers to the Deepest Questions (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005); and Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009). 
Dr. Schmidt holds a bachelor's degree from Asbury College, the Masters of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and the Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University.

        If you've ever had to experience the hard times in your own life or the grief of watching a loved one suffer or even pass away, then this book may prove helpful to you. Frederick W. Schmidt becomes candid in The Dave Test as he allows us to explore his journey through his brother's brain cancer. 

This isn't necessarily an easy read. It's heartbreaking and uncomfortable. But I would say that it is necessary. When I was 4 years old my father was diagnosed with cancer, and the doctors told him to go home and make arrangements. He lived for 15 more years, but he was taken home to the Lord my Freshman year of college. It's not easy stuff. I appreciate this book because I understand what the author is communicating here. We can sugar coat everything as much as we like to try and ease the pain or mask our suffering (or the suffering of those around us), but it's still there and it helps to ask the hard questions. It helps to challenge your faith, because usually this will allow it to strengthen. It's a test.

The only thing I would mention is that the author disapproves of referencing "lists" to help you get through these issues, while the majority of this book is lists. They are helpful lists, and help to organize the author's points, but the inconsistency of what he was communicating here did not work in his favor.

Although it's a hard pill to swallow, this is a great book for those struggling with questions and faith during a hard time. Or perhaps you know someone who is struggling. Try referencing this book and see if it helps you. It just might shed some light on your otherwise dark circumstances.

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