Sex, Sushi, and Salvation
By Brian Cosby
February 11, 2008
Christian George, in Sex, Sushi, and Salvation, offers a plea for authentic Christian faith. In a culture devoid of meaning and starving for purpose, the book points to Jesus Christ as the only one who can fulfill humanity’s deepest longings for intimacy, community, and eternity. The book is fast-paced and entertaining, brimming with personal adventures, memoirs, and humorous anecdotes. But tucked away in the present-day language is an age-old theology and a warm exhortation to “grab life by the chopsticks and enjoy a fresher faith".
The book reads like other contemporary Christian-inspiration writers like Donald Miller or Rob Bell, but it doesn’t try to play off spirituality against religion. In fact, George applauds ecumenism and the diversity of denominations in the body of Christ. The great hymns of the faith, the historic confessions, and the biographies of the saints are all contributing to what George calls a “nation-wide revival” among the younger generation, who is also his primary audience. He argues that the revival is being brought about, in part, by placing Christ as the all-sufficient and all-satisfying Savior to a world in search for meaning and authenticity.
The book’s language is raw and exciting—a no-holds-bar approach—detailing sinful secrets, travels to remote parts of the world, and an honest struggle of embracing a loving God in the midst of intense suffering. George combines his gift as a wordsmith with experienced affliction.
He is also a sneaky theologian, leading you along an exciting adventure through caves in Transylvania when he hits you with a profound truth about the nature of God. The book integrates today’s popular language with a robust, even offensive, gospel—a compelling stand against what George sees as a health and wealth “cotton-candy theology.”
The book takes the reader on a pilgrimage, from the fall of man and the effects of sin to the redemption purchased by Christ and, finally, to the celestial city in heaven.George doesn’t refrain from talking about our sinful natures and he doesn’t let the reader escape the Fall. He also doesn’t let Christ escape the cross. It is, he contends, a “gory gospel,” where real nails, real thorns, and real sin are all part of the package.
George’s answer to his generation’s quest for meaning and purpose is found solely in the all-satisfying Savior Jesus Christ. He writes, “We are a generation with real questions, and we won’t settle for artificial answers.” Behind the Sunday-morning masks are broken lives and shattered dreams. We want to bleed and show our wounds, but we are afraid of judgmental glances and a ruined reputation. But true intimacy, George argues, finds its home in being honest and authentic; and true community finds its home in such intimacy.
In a very real way, George’s own honesty and authenticity throughout the book seems to give the reader a sense of freedom to share his or her own imbedded hurts and secret sins. “If he can be this open and honest, so can I.” The reader is given permission to be who they are—with warts, scabs, and scars. But George also gives the reader permission—indeed, conviction—to rest in God’s grace and to strive for the holy. It is this authenticity that leads to true community.
George attacks America’s addiction to chasing the American Dream, which has left people empty and still dreaming. No gadget in Sky Mall magazine can mask our misery. No shirt from Hollister can cover our guilty past. We have missed the fact that God has given us passions and longings for intimacy, community, and eternity that only he can fully satisfy. In the midst of storytelling, George doesn’t lose sight of his goal to display a Savior to a world in need of saving.
The book is filled with romance, artistic aspirations, New Orleans’ blues, swing dancing, and a favorite of his, aikido. George covers everything from hot-dog eating competitions to the excavations of Pompeii.The reader will be better informed simply by the sheer number of subjects he uses to illustrate the Christian life.
Sex, Sushi, and Salvation gives the reader enough theological girth to say, through the deepest possible pain, “God is enough.” Our longings and passions are fulfilled by God not in spite of suffering, but in the midst of suffering. Our desires for intimacy, community, and eternity are matched by God’s provision of the same. In this way, the book is vertical—deepening the reader’s devotional dependence upon the Divine.
I have but one criticism of the book in that it seems a bit unorganized and, at times, without direction. At several places, I found myself asking, “What is he trying to communicate in this chapter?” At other places, it seems as though he is jumping from one story to the next without any conclusion. Although the book was as entertaining as it was informative, it would have been nice to have a little more unity.
Notwithstanding, I recommend the book to anyone, but especially to those struggling over the deeper questions of what it means to have an authentic faith in an uncertain world.