Over the last two weeks I spent some time reading and wanted to share some thoughts of three book that were, if anything, wildly different from each other:
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. On the order of Freakonomics, an economist has done a good bit of research and experimentation on humans (hey, no animals were hurt!), and our social behaviors. The thesis of this book is the incredulous and frequent irrationality that humans react with, and so much so that it is predictable, and without much logic, or rationale. Many people are aware of this and have used this knowledge for marketing, programming, etc.
An insightful book with a lot of fine lessons and questions brought up by Ariely, but to me the bottom line is: you are not as in control, or as logical, or as sharp, as you may think you are. Don’t be offended. This book should humble you as you become more aware of what you may have thought are your unique and individual preferences and habits. Each of us is wonderfully unique and we all have our personal preferences, but Ariely shows us that we are all very much alike in that we don’t seem to be able to make very rational choices. Enjoy the odd perspectives by which Ariely researches and the variety of his studies to deepen your understanding of yourself and others. This book hints strongly along the lines of Blink, a book I highly recommend about our unconscious habits and gut instincts.
The Shack, by William P. Young. I do not read much fiction to begin with, and I had only heard negative, or at least questionable, things about this book, so it was possibly a book that I would never, ever read. However, a friend challenged me to read it with the caveat that it might be a book that could change my life. Fancy that. Well, it did change my life: I can now add it along with many other books in my growing library. But other that that, I can assure that I will not look back on my time spent reading this as ‘defining’ for shaping my theology or my psychology (two things that could always use challenge and growth). The story is not that remarkable, and other than the radical and eclectic characters of God that Young draws up, it really is not that exciting to read. It was sound enough theologically, and hit a high note in terms of explaining the ways in which one could expect God to have us react as we come to know His love.
One line from the book that will stay with me for along time (probably b/c it rings well with my attitude of wishing authenticity in people) is: “Take the risks of honesty”. Wow. Wonder what it would be like if we could all do that more?
If you like to read great stories and want to learn more about how God is causing people to react with His love, I suggest reading “Same Kind of Different as Me” (its not only a page turner and wonderfully written, but it’s beautiful because it is not fiction!!)
The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, by D.A Carson. This is a brilliant book and my favorite of the three, likely because it is primarily discussing God from a trusted writer, pastor, and scholar.
It seems that the way that we humans have centralized God’s “major” purposes have changed somewhat over time. There were eras where the focus were the dogmas (doctrines) of our faith, or maybe the humanity of Jesus, or the unity of God’s people, and the universal church (for more about theology and what that really is, I recommend reading “Who Needs Theology?” here is a brief post).
But nowadays it is God and His love that is a more central theme by which we present God. This is great, mind you, because God is love, and He alone gives and shows pure love. That has always been true, and has always been presented by His church.
However, the bend that we seem to be on in our culture is to over-sensualize and, quite frankly, simplify, God’s love to merely human terms, emotions, and understanding. Hey, we are human, and this side of eternity we’re not going to get the fullest understanding of God and His awesome love, but God has revealed His love through Jesus Christ and He has given us His Word (the Bible), by which we can come to a responsible and sound understanding of what real love looks like. It is in this context that Carson explains a sound, doctrinal understanding of the truth of God’s love, and it is more loving and lasting than what is coming across in a lot of teaching and preaching lately.