I don’t really enjoy writing book reviews and you don’t usually read them anyway. But you do read these lists. So let’s meld the two – because I really want you to read Make Your own Application by Michael Newnham.
Michael is one of my favorite bloggers. His thoughts and observations are always helpful. I sometimes skip over a lot of stuff in my blog reader to read what he has to say. I don’t always agree with him. But here’s the thing – I always feel like I need to pay attention and I always feel like I can learn something.
Out of his blog has been born a book. Here are 10 reasons why you might like it.
1. It’s a book of original stories. It’s fashionable these days to talk about “story” and the importance of them. I hope it stays that way and doesn’t fade. Christians need to tune their minds and eyes and hearts and souls to see and hear and feel all the little stories happening around them. This is a book of these kinds of stories – the little ones we are prone to pass over. Usually it’s the little ones that contain the truths we need to apply early and often.
2. The writing is very good. I often get asked, “What is good writing?” All I know is what I like – the writing that draws me in and keeps me there long after I’ve stopped reading. This book has that kind of writing. I actually started reading it, thinking I would do so over a few days. But I kept picking it back up and finished it very quickly because I wanted more. Good writing is rare in Christendom these days, and this is some pretty dang good writing.
3. It’s unclassifiable. I have no idea how you would classify this book. Really, no idea. And that’s a good thing. Maybe you are like me and feel you have read it all before. You want something different…you know, something without shunned Amish wild girls or gospel-hyphenated titles. Nothing wrong with those, of course. But sometimes you need something out of the box. Make Your Own Application is that book
4. It’s funny. Listen, it is hard to find a funny book written by a Christian. We are not known for this. (If they are funny, it’s at the expense of others a la Mark Driscoll.) But this book has some great humor in it. It’s not a comedy book. But sometimes the little stories God uses to teach us are full of comedy. I found myself in these stories a lot and usually I was laughing at myself.
5. This is a book for everyone. From skateboarders to cat-lovers. You think I’m kidding? I kid you not.
6. Great illustrations for teachers. I don’t know about you but if I hear another sermon with the story of Eric Liddell (“When I run, I feel God’s pleasure”) or of Aslan (“Of course he is good, but not safe”) I’m gonna become go postal. These stories are true and and the kinds of stories we see around us every. single. day. We can all relate. If you are a preacher, you need these kinds of stories to take up residence in your mind.
7. These are mundane stories. One of the things Make Your Own Application can do for us is tune our own eyes to see and then tell similar stories. We tend to tell stories of the fantastic. We tell stories of celebrities. We tell stories of the super-spiritual pastors who are legends. In other words, we are just like our culture. These stories are for the most part really ordinary. But Michael does a masterful job of making us pay attention to them and see ourselves and our world within.
8. It’s short. Never trust a person who does not like short books. If you think only long, thick, heavy books are what christians should be reading, I don’t like you. And neither does God because the books of the Bible are pretty short. So is The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. And many of you will think this is great – “I may actually finish this one!” It is a small book with a price-point to match.
9. You can stroll or dash through it. Maybe you are like me and have trouble reading slowly and taking your time with books. You run through them with breakneck speed and then sit back and enjoy what you have written. This is a book for you. Or maybe you are the kind of person who can stop reading as easily as you have started. You read a passage and feel you must stop and let roll around in your head for awhile. This is a book for you. I dashed through it the first time and now I’m strolling.
10. I wish I had written a similar book. Seriously, I wanted to write a book based on lines from songs and movies and let them be illustrations of various transcendent truths. This book is way better and I wish I had written it.