Read more from the Upside Book Club at Patheos here.


The chapters cover a broad range of topics including finances and the economy, education, health, marriage and family, crime and the ever-present concern with personal happiness. Be prepared to argue with Brad. At least three groups of people will get some of their chains rattled. Some people just foam up against everything. It doesn't matter whether the glass looks half empty or half full; the glass is just filthy, period. Some of us believe what we believe regardless of facts or evidence. Belief (be it religious, atheistic, philosophical, political, etc.) is very powerful. Beliefs can and do run very deeply with sometimes little relationship to reasons for those beliefs. Even the emergence of evidence to the contrary often will not change them. (Thousands still believe that Area 51 in Nevada marks where the government has been hiding UFO evidence for decades instead of a Cold War weapons development site. I personally believe it's where aging TV and movie personalities go for training on making long infomercials that clog the airwaves on Sunday afternoons. We both know we're right and don't think of trying to talk us out of it.)

I actually fit a third group and had to take a knot out of my tail to review Upside. People who work closely with human need and suffering, especially as these emerge from the shadow of human frailty and evil, seem like proctologists who have been at it too long. Everything looks like a backside.

I had to lay those murky lenses aside to give Upside a fair shake. I found it therapeutic. Starting out with a chip on my shoulder and "Oh yeah?!!" in my head, I softened as I read. Without naively dismissing the muck I wade through in working with people in need, Upside gives a lick or two of honest and solid hope. We face some serious things. But sometimes some of those things, like being eaten by hyenas, are not as painful as we think.

The ravages of sin, failure, and brokenness might make us feel like God caught the last bus off this planet. Upside helps us realize He's still here in places we didn't see and He brought His toolbox with Him. All the better for us followers of Jesus to be the salt and light (Mt. 5:13-16) He intended, and get dirty with Him.

Read more from the Upside Book Club at Patheos here.