Book review: Framing Faith

I was excited about the newest book for review, Framing Faith by Matt Knisely. Combining photographic expertise with discussions on faith sounded perfect, and I couldn’t wait to get my copy. I was disappointed, however, by two points: The book lacks structure, and it also lacks concrete detail. The foreword promises that the book similar to sitting down with Knisely in a coffee shop. Sitting down with someone in a coffee shop can make for wonderful conversation, but the meandering, tangential paths of coffee shop conversation do not translate well in this book. To compound the problem, Knisely speaks in the most general of terms instead of grounding us in the moment–ironically, while he exhorts his readers to be present in the moment. I wanted to read about a photographer’s craft, right down to the jargon that makes little sense to outsiders. When an expert talks about his or her area of expertise, the enthusiasm is infectious. Instead, Knisely uses a vague term such as “perspective” with brief references to personal anecdotes and the merest hints of familiar Bible stories.

I found the personal anecdotes a bit unsettling, such as the description of observing a girl at a camp for those with Down’s syndrome. Surely we have moved beyond using Down’s syndrome as a shorthand for plays on emotion? I am not moved by the shocking observation that a girl with Down’s can, indeed, be kissed by a boy and enjoy it. Had Knisely taken the time to capture the moment in greater detail his point might have come across more clearly, but in this context the few paragraphs felt uncomfortably similar to using a disability to make a point. Children with Down’s syndrome are capable and intelligent human beings, not objects of pity or surprise that they are, indeed, real people.

The book was a wonderful idea, and some of Knisely’s observations are lovely. Perhaps a second edition could re-vamp the structure and present the book in a more unified format.

This book is recommended for fans of Matt Knisely, but others may want to look for more solid works on faith.

(Review copy provided by BookLook, a subsidiary of HarperCollins Publishing)

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