Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Earthen Vessels by Matthew Lee Anderson

Guilty. I chose this book by its cover.  In this case, that adage applied. Wasn't wise. Why don't I ever learn? I was also drawn to the concept which I understood to be how our bodies as believers in Christ mattered to our faith.

I found that concept fascinating as I am very much into an organic lifestyle basically involving our implementation of a Mediterranean diet. For those two reasons I chose to review this book.

I smiled as I read the Contents page. Tough topics were presented: Evangelical Inattention and the Secular Body, Tattoos and the Meaning of our Bodies, Homosexuality and the Christian Body, etc.

I still had high hopes for a great read after I dove into the Preface titled In Which I Clear My Throat. Chapter One included Scripture and mention of Paul the Apostle. It was interesting.

However, Chapter Two presented a roadblock. I did not  understand the author's intention with the use of the word "evangelical." I consider myself an evangelical Christian. I try not to stereotype any people group. I understand truths to be evident when presented with statistical data. In this book, I heard the author's opinion with regard to his summation that overall most evangelical Christians are not interested in having healthy bodies at least as compared to having a healthy faith. I did not read of proof of his conclusion.

Therefore, since he was using supposition, he should have used personal examples to make his case. Do case studies, use your experience, man! There truly is danger in making assumptions with regard to any class of people.

Chapter Seven was awkwardly presented. In that chapter titled The Body and Its Pleasure the author loosely threw in Scripture about Paul being the most equipped to speak about sex. On page 124 I realized without a shadow of a doubt that this would not be a book I would recommend. Respectfully, Scripture is not to be interpreted with an "I think I can" attitude. The author made the mistake of referring to Scripture and then reasoning how he "thought" it would apply and then speaking it to his audience as if it were truth.

Page 124," What follows in the rest of this chapter, then, is not a comprehensive treatment of human sexuality, but my attempt to outline what I think is distinctive about Christian sexuality in a world that worships sex. My goal is to say what I think Scripture thinks sex is rather than focusing primarily on what sex is not. Naturally, I draw on the account of the body I have sketched in earlier chapters to make my case. But I should also note that much of what follows is heavily influenced by-though not a direct translation of-John Paul II's Theology of the Body."

There were many broad brush strokes outlining how to do this or that. Legalism was mentioned. The author seemed to want to teach and guide and solve problems in "the church". There were rays of sunshine throughout but getting through the wordy, opinionated, secularly quoted sections was a struggle.

Writing a nonfiction work in the Christian market these days no doubt is a challenge. The market has become broad and if a book focuses too widely on too many facets of the "Christian Church" of course some will be offended, some may applaud, and some may change the channel.

I fell into the latter group. Mr. Anderson, I am an evengelical that does care about the body, does love God's Word and gosh darnit I can crack open that book and hear from the Holy Spirit. I will then learn all I need to know about my body, sex, and homosexuality!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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