Some Thoughts on God and Other Things
Page Publishing, 2015
There is a line of reasoning, if we may call it that, running through Protestantism here in the U.S. (primarily evangelical and dominated by the Baby Boomer generation) that sees itself as constantly under attack and marginalized. This persecution complex bleeds over into nearly every aspect of everyday living. The saturation of Christian values, politics, and dictates is the reality of life in the United States; it can’t be escaped yet the vast majority that identify as such are convinced they are an extreme and endangered minority.
This temperament lends itself well to the literature produced by believers. There is a constant call to return to a golden past, to stand out in the face of supposed persecution, and that repentance for ‘sins’ or acknowledged wrongdoing both moral and legal is enough to absolve one in the eyes of the divine. Believers always have room for those confirming what they already feel.
Enter Jerome Gleich’s Some Thoughts on God and Other Things, a folksy, simple book consisting of “thoughts that are not really my own, that is, they just came to me, in the middle of the night, on the train, or at work (and I believe that these are inspired by God).” Gleich frequently asserts the nation has dismissed God completely and in so doing we have become violent, angry, and full of hatred. Some Thoughts on God is most certainly a jeremiad on the moral decline of our nation.
There are, of course, millions who believe this and are eager to have it confirmed. Gleich obliges by writing a book length essay that can be easily understood by any level of reader. In fact, the quality of Gleich’s writing falls right in line with many first year college students, which I would image opens up a larger audience for his thoughts. Gleich makes it a point to stress he is writing about not the concept of God but the reality, and he’s uninterested in religion. These twin tracks are never really squared but Gleich is earnest in his attempt to avoid bias and speak about what he sees as the divine more broadly.
Many do have the need and desire for religious self-help rather than psychological, clinical or pop. Gleich’s book fits this niche as it is concerned with providing a path for like-minded individuals to overcome “the bad things going on in the world.”
At its best, Gleich’s prose is a genuine effort to reach out to those who feel themselves untethered in society longing for a metaphysical grounding, if you will. Just as often, however, the content of Some Thoughts On God is searingly myopic and culturally tone deaf. Yet is very doubtful anyone not already inclined towards Gleich’s point of view, temperament, and background would approach this book. Those inclined will be satisfied if not fulfilled with a book ratifying their impressions while offering sermons that don’t admonish but prod one towards a kind of redemption.
Jerome Gleich is a graduate of De Paul University with a degree in economics. He has worked for over forty years as a commercial casualty underwriter. This is his first book.
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