Journalist Kay Campbell: ‘WWG Bows to the Enduring Mystery of the Universe’

Barbara Falconer Newhall's book Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith on sale at Book Passage bookstore, Corte Madera, California. Photo by Barbara Newhall

The religion-philosophy-inspiration section of the Book Passage bookstore in Corte Madera, California. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Here’s what my Religion Newswriters Association colleague Kay Campbell has to say about “Wrestling with God.” Thank you, Kay.

In “Wrestling with God,” Barbara Falconer Newhall, a longtime religion writer, combines the best of gracefully practiced and written journalism with the best of a personal spiritual quest.

With a persistent seeker’s humbleness, she asks good questions of thoughtful people from an astonishing range of backgrounds. Then she listens to and transcribes – with gentle editing for clarity and rhythm – their answers.

Making Sense of the Universe

The result is both an encyclopedia of the ways that twenty-first-century Americans make sense of the universe and their place in it as well as a personal memoir of Newhall’s own, continuing, spiritual journey. Along the way, she manages to invite readers deeper into their own quests, whether for the first time, or as a waymark on their pilgrimages.

Divided into chapters presenting the diverse individuals she talked with as she worked on this project – more than a decade – the book would work well as the focus for small group study or as a quiet companion on a personal spiritual journey.

The Tough Questions

The conversations take on the hard questions:

  • Can God be good and still allow evil?
  • What does religion have to say to science or vice versa?
  • Does faith come from feeling or from evidence?

The conversations deliver no easy answers or pat solutions. Even so, the book arrives at a place of peace with the unknown, of finally bowing to the enduring mystery of the universe and to the persistence of human questions about the universe.

“My conversations with the people who tell their stories here convinced me that we live in a miraculous world – that something is going on,” Newhall writes in the book’s conclusion. “That’s the only truth I’ve wrestled from God so far. It’s all I know for sure. And it’s huge.”

Kay Campbell is an award-winning religion reporter with the Huntsville Times and the Alabama Media Group

If you enjoyed this post, you might like “Writers Need Editors and Mine Wants My Manuscript Turned In Now.”  Also, “Making Friends With — Trying To — the Serial Comma.”  You can get a copy of the book at

The cover of Barbara Falconer Newhall's 2015 interfaith religion book "Wrestling with God: Stories of Doubt and Faith" shows two red chairs opposing one another. Design by Michelle Lenger.

Cover design by Michelle Lenger.



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