Book Review: The God Box

The author of Eat, Pray, Love endorsed The God Box. That should have been my first clue. The God Box is a delightful mix of sentimentality and feel-good theology, but if you’re looking for a Salvation message, it’s missing.

The God Box by Mary Lou Quinlan tells the story of her faithful mom. Her mom put her prayers in several boxes found after her death by Mary and her family. Mary Quinlan talks about how her mother’s faith was inspiring and what her mother meant to so many people. I had no objections to the method.

The God Box is something I would encourage. We all pray for different people and have our own methods. Some will list the prayers in their Bible or on a piece of paper. Some write their petitions and leave them behind in prayer rooms or keep them in private journals. The God Box is a wonderful record kept long after a person passes away to affirm love and answer questions. The prayers left in the God Box were footprints. Like an eavesdropper, Mary and her family read through hundreds of notes and learned more about their mother than their mother revealed while living.

The problem I had with it was how The God Box gets loose with theology. This quote written by Mary Quinlan at the end bothered me, illustrating my problem:

“I have heard stories of those who place their intentions in a book or in a drawer. What’s more important is that you choose what fits you, your beliefs, your life.” (emphasis mine)

I have reviewed books where the theology wasn’t something I could endorse, but because it was part of the background of the story, it was easily overlooked. While I enjoyed and learned much from Mary’s recollection of her mother, the quote above disturbed me as well as other superstitious rituals, like encouraging her father to say, ‘Namaste,’ which means, “to the DIVINE in all of us.” Mary spoke rather off the cuff about positive energy and used the word, “higher power” a few times. I am still not sure if she believes Christ died for her sins or if she has mashed together New Age and her religion to create something a bit more palatable to the soul. I can’t find anything online that gives me more of a clue about what she believes. One shouldn’t assume this is a Christian book. The book is marketed to women in the secular market. There are Christian aspects to it.

Mary’s mom was a strong prayer warrior and a people person. People meant a lot to this woman. Mary’s mom dropped everything to listen to someone even, “while her eggs grew cold.” I would encourage someone to read this book only if they were a strong believer, cemented in the Word. Mary’s mom illustrated what a relationship with God looks like because she wrote the notes as Mary said, “…like a pen pal to God.”

The God Box illustrates authentic community–the kind of love people are looking to trust. Mary’s mom loved well. God gave her that gift.

The God Box is a feel-good book encouraging people to start their own God Box, but because of the references to a “higher power,” “Namaste,” something about positive energy, and the quote above among other things, the question becomes who are people praying to when they create a God box? I gave this book three stars.

*book given by publisher to review.