Book review: Discipl-ish by Mike Duran

I was supposed to review this book at launch, but I was kind of off on my sort-of-terrible vacation at the time.

Discipl-ish by Mike Duran is a memoir of his rocky life, first as an altar boy in a Catholic church, then as a delinquent teen, then as a young man who accepted Christ and had pastorhood thrust upon him way too early.

Over the course of trying to run a church, he made mistakes, fell into bad company, and eventually enabled a whirlwind of spiritual abuse that made me physically ill to read about. I had to keep putting the book down because it upset me so deeply.

Eventually, Mike’s pastorate was stripped from him and the church dissolved. This is where most memoirs of this kind follow the person into a journey away from Christianity and how much “happier” they are with no religion at all. Mike, fortunately, doesn’t do that. He clings to Jesus, works through forgiveness, and lets go of the negative emotions that usually consume people who walk away from the faith.

After he moves on into other jobs and picks up writing, he chronicles helping people far more than he did as a pastor, much more one on one. Throughout the book, he wrestles with questions like, can people from other religions be saved? Can it be possible to hold two opposing theological positions at the same time, like Calvinism and Arminianism? Is it possible to find peace with paradox?

His roots as a horror writer also stem from his religious background, which is fascinating to read, too. I was reminded constantly of Stephen King’s semi-memoir, On Writing, in which some of the same elements appear (drugs, a fascination with the occult, etc.).

The book is a gripping read. It’s like sitting down with a friend over coffee and listening as they tell you a fantastically interesting story. Once they finish, you look down and your coffee is cold because you were listening so intently. I pretty much devoured the whole book in a few days because Mike’s storytelling is so compelling.

I’m not really into memoirs, but this is a good one.

I received an advanced reader copy of this book. My review and thoughts are my own.

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