Book review: Seismic Shift: From God to Goodness

by Keith Martin


On the heels of a fascinating book about transitioning from various spiritualities to Christianity (Is Reality Secular by Mary Poplin) I present this book describing one person’s journey in just the opposite direction. I do enjoy reading these different personal discoveries, if for no other reason than to remind myself that every person is in a different place in their spiritual journey, and has differing spiritual needs. This is a good one: sincere yet in all ways respectful of the religion he left behind.

Keith Martin found himself jettisoning Christianity because it just didn’t ring true. Rather than take up with another religion, though, he strengthened that purpose of his Christian heritage that did provide meaning: Goodness. Although Martin flirted with progressive Christianity for a while after leaving the faith, he finally just stepped away from Christianity completely to avoid confusion. Most people who think of Christianity think of worshipping the Son of God, and that no longer fit Martin’s worldview.

The Rwanda genocide was his wake-up call, which both dashed his belief in an all-powerful God and increased his resolve to pursue Goodness in place of religion. Explains Martin, “When I capitalize Goodness, I mean more than just aspiring to be good. I mean bowing to Goodness the way religious people bow to God. I mean letting Goodness in all its forms—love, justice, compassion, mercy, kindness, etc.—guide and govern my life the way many faiths say God should govern our lives.” As we taught our kids at Christmastime, we need to be good for goodness’ sake.

This is an honest and heartfelt journey, about loss and new discovery, and post-Christian meaning. Many people are already taking this next step. By understanding God as a metaphor for Goodness, our spirituality once again rings true.


  1. Thank you for your positive review of my book. Even though I am no longer a Christian, in the book I say, “In one sense I’m still Christian, if not a Christian. Just as I think in English, even though there are many other languages to think in, when I think about the mystery we call God and how we should live our lives, I often think in Christian symbols. That is the language and story in which I was raised. That is what I can relate to most easily. And that is why I respect progressive Christians who have chosen to stay within Christianity and seek to redefine what those symbols can mean today.” (pp. 47-48)
    Again, thank you for such a thoughtful review.

  2. Lee Harmon

    You’re quite welcome, Keith! Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

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