Monday, July 5, 2010

A Noted Review

Mansfield, Ken. Between Wyomings: My God and an iPod on the Open Road. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009. 305 Pages. Paper. $14.99. (N)

Between Wyomings is a chronicle of Ken Mansfield’s physical and spiritual journey. The journey of Ken and his wife through much of America in a van named Moses, in which he recalls his past and his contentment that is now his through Christ. Ken Mansfield is now an ordained pastor and motivational speaker in the evangelical style. I was interested in reading the book because I grew up with much of the music Ken produced, in the 60’s, and 70’s.

Mansfield was born in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania and grew up in Lewiston, Idaho, hence the between Wyomings title. After high school he joined the navy and eventually graduated from college with a degree in marketing. While he was working in the space program, Ken’s heart was in music and he was hired by Capitol records in 1965. He became a record producer and worked with many artists, including the Beatles. While on his current journey, Ken recalls incidents with the people with which he worked. His travels take him to places, a home in Los Angeles, Austin, Nashville, and Lewiston, Idaho, as he reminisces about his past.

Interspersed between the stories of his past are his thoughts of what is happening as they travel, the people and places of the past with the present particular time and place. Ken’s past life was the drug and alcohol scene of the entertainment industry but he does not dwell on those episodes. His relationships with the people and how they affected his life is the focus. As usually happens, he enters a low point but is able to bounce back.

Also interspersed are spiritual moments. Ken likens learning to know God to learning to play a musical instrument: “At first it takes effort and repetition…something new occupies a space deep down inside. You don’t think about playing the notes—they are a part of you, and you are a part of them.” (page 45) God is his “joyful and peaceful part.” He states, “I think when the order of our stuff gets in His proper order; we become more like Him than like us.” (page 134) This should be a goal of the Christian, becoming Christlike. Mansfield’s evangelical take is there but so is an unwavering faith. He know God has taken him through his life’s journey.

Between Wyomings was an interesting read. While the chapters were somewhat disconnected and the reader never really understands the purpose of Mansfield’s drive, the stories were good and the spiritual chapters conveyed a deep faith. For me, the drive was a look at his past and bringing things together, returning home and understanding that with Christ, home is where you are. Between Wyomings is not deeply theological or even inspirational but it is entertaining and interesting. The reader is called to reflect on their own life and how God has been with them in all things, to take their own journey.

Review by Carol Nemec