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Book Review: Blue Collar Believer

Updated on April 14, 2017
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Joel is a writer who has spent 15 years researching and writing on topics of religion. He has a BA in psychology and an MA in education.

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Blue Collar Believer

Blue-Collar Believer is William Schnakenberg’s first book. The plain and unassuming cover of the book matches the message conveyed in the title: that Christian faith is a humble thing, just as much at home in the heart of blue collar worker as it is in the mouth of the minister or the lectures of the theologian.

The book is essentially the author’s autobiography. In it, Schnakenberg tells the tale of a cynical and rebellious youth who hits rock-bottom before he finds redemption in a faith to which he had always turned a cold shoulder.

The book starts somewhat slowly. The introduction and first chapter tend to meander a bit as Schnakenberg finds his niche as a writer and figures out how to set the story up. But once one reaches the middle of the first chapter, the pace picks up as Schnakenberg hits his stride and really begins laying out his early years. It is at this point, the book becomes intensely engaging, and remains so until the very last page.

Schnakenberg recounts his years as a teenager and young adult: a shiftless boy who struggles to find his purpose in booze, drugs, brawling and womanizing. As his life progresses, he finds himself face down – both literally and figuratively – before an encounter with Christ turns him around.

He describes the radical change he experiences as his newly found faith redeems his behavior and enriches his life. So eager is Schnakenberg to embrace his new calling, that he becomes an ordained Chaplain – an identity which gives him a great deal of joy and purpose. Despite William’s title of Chaplain, he still works in a blue-collar job, rubbing shoulders with laborers just like himself.

However, as Schnakenberg takes up his new calling, the book recounts a number of colorful encounters he has as a Chaplain, and how his fearlessness in broaching conversations with people, his level-headed thinking and his knowledge of his faith drastically improves the lives of every-day individuals he encounters.

As the book climbs to its narrative climax, and begins to approach its conclusion, the reader is treated to the bittersweet conclusion of a theme which winds its way throughout the book: the story of William’s relationship with his father, and how William’s devotion to his faith strains at the bond he shares with his skeptical Dad.

William’s father is shown, in all his flaws, as a friendly but stubborn man, who bares all of the scars of a physically and emotionally damaged person. Despite his difficulties, the love that William and his father share bears the narrative to its moving conclusion.

Blue-Collar Believer is a touching and meaningful book which works on a number of levels. It is dramatic and tense, but spiritually and philosophically deep. As the reader hears William Schnakenberg talk through the text, he quickly becomes a man that anyone would want to sit down and share a beer and their feelings with.

While it is clearly written for the layperson, this book offers wisdom which works for everyone.

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