After Shock

Since we went to the Caribbean to celebrate our 20th anniversary last week, I decided to read about the Haiti earthquake in Kent Annan’s new book, After Shock: Searching for Honest Faith When Your World is Shaken (2011, IVP).

Annan is a psalmist (lament), a mystic, a theologian, a humanitarian, a poet and a story-teller.

He laments the hundreds of thousands of people killed in the Haiti earthquake (Jan 12, 2010).  No one know the exact number (Wikipedia lists government estimates at 316,000), but Annan uses the number 230,001, adding the extra one to make it slightly less impersonal.

While most of his stories focus on Haiti, he tells a particularly poignant one about a trip to India where he went to Christian run orphanage for children with disabilities (pages 28-29). The children sang a song for their guests and it was expected that Annan would reciprocate, so he sang, My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.  He taught them the hand motions, but ironically only a few had the God-given abilities to perform the simple motions.  I have to include his concluding words, “It’s like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins cowrote Atheism: The Musical and I unwittingly became the star.”

Annan’s combination of honest doubts, gut wretching stories and probing questions make this a great read for anyone struggling to understand how to move toward God and toward faith when your world is literally shaken.

If you didn’t have enough other reasons to buy the book, a portion of the proceeds from sales of the book go toward improving education in Haiti.


  1. My fmaily thinks that my 16 year old daughter and I stalk your fmaily. I will begin to tell what is going on with you and my sister will ask if this is my pretend friend again. I tell her that we are really tight, it’s just that you don’t know me. My daughter and I really enjoy and are encouraged much by your writing. She is hoping to travel to Haiti next summer after graduation. You have had an influence on that plan. Thank you.

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