I know I’m going to be seen by some as a party pooper in this review – but bear with me. I think this little book raises from serious questions we DO need to ask.
That said – let me plunge on into it.
Heaven is For Real, is the (supposed) account of Colton Burpo – son of Todd Burpo, a pastor in Imperial Nebraska. When I use the word “supposed” in parentheses above, I do not wish to imply that there is any kind of fraud being perpetrated in this story. I use it only because a lot of what is reported in the book (beyond the verifiable historical facts), is all dependent upon what may or may not be the genuine experience, or dreams, or hallucinations or combinations of these – of 4 year old Colton Burpo. I do not use it either to impugn the sincerity of the Burpo family in any way. I use it because “experiences” are tricky things. And how we interpret our experiences may or may not be accurate. And herein rests a key problem with this little -quick reading and fun book.
In the mid-sixties, my family was in a horrible car crash on Christmas day. The car was totaled. My Dad had a broken ankle and severe lacerations on his forehead. The rest of the family all had their various bruises, cuts, strains, etc. Thankfully, no one was permanently disabled or killed. But my older sister – suffered the strangest of effects. For weeks afterward, she was plagued with uncontrollable crying. It seemed to have no direct connection to her emotional state either. Sad or happy, otherwise engaged or simply thoughtful, nevertheless, she would break out into tears. Everyone thought it would just go away on its own – an after effect of the shock of the whole incident. It didn’t.
One day, my Mom – who had suffered some serious back discomfort from all of this, went to see a Chiropractor who was invaluable in relieving her physical distress. As the whole incident was discussed with him, and all of our various conditions gone over – the curious case of my sister was visited too. And the good Dr. suggested Nancy (my sister) come to see him as well. It was amazing. One adjustment, one thing seriously out of place – put back into place – relieved what everyone assumed was a purely emotional malady. A pinched nerve (or so it was assumed) was producing the episodic and inexplicable crying. It ended that day.
How does all of this relate to Ken Stewart’s “Ten Myths About Calvinism”? Because for lack of a better term – this book is an exercise in ecclesiastical, historical chiropractic. It serves to realign some very critical, misaligned historical conceptions that for some (I have not a doubt in the world) have been producing undiagnosed pains, discomforts and perhaps even tears. It is a healing book. And I am profoundly grateful for it.
Up In The Air is the new smash “comedy” hit starring George Clooney and Vera Farmiga.
Peter Travers in the December 2K Rolling Stone wrote: “Up in the Air is a defining movie for these perilous times.”
That is about the most tragic statement about “these perilous times” I can imagine.
The message of the movie simply and grievously is:
Life is pointless. That being the case, you may as well not go through it alone.
A dreadful trek into 21st century version of existential despair.
Waste neither your time nor your money on it.
“Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor” is a war story. It has the cast about it that all war stories do. Bitter-sweetness pervades. There is tragedy. And there is no “jump up and shout” victory.
This is the kind of war story that chronicles the unsung heroes. The ones stationed at the lonely, desolate outposts. They never charge up the hill. They are not the ones who throw themselves on the explosives in front of their comrades to take the impact so that others live to tell about it. The don’t get decorated. At least not here.
A Review of the popular new book
William P. Young
My first temptation in reflecting upon my reading of The Shack is just to trash it. It wouldn’t be hard to do. Un-biblical notions abound in it. Indeed anti-biblical notions ooze from nearly every page. And, casting stones is a relatively low-skill-set activity. Its easy. Pick’em up and throw. Doesn’t make much thought or depth of analysis.
But I don’t want to do that.
I don’t want to just indulge in literary vivisection because the very presence of the book and its theme are still important. And because as you read it, the auto-biographical nature of it screams to be addressed. All three of these account (I believe) for the book’s overwhelming popularity among Christians. All that being said – “Theological fiction” – as The Shack’s genre is called, is tricky business. Tricky and dangerous. How dangerous, we’ll unpack below.
The Shack’s author, William P. Young “was born a Canadian and raised among a stone-age tribe by his missionary parents in the highlands of what was New Guinea. He suffered great loss as a child and young adult, and now enjoys the ‘wastefulness of grace’ with his family in the Pacific Northwest.”
DON’T FORGET THE ROCHESTER THEOLOGY CONFERENCE – INFORMATION HERE!!!!
I will begin by saying that I have no doubt that Debi Pearl’s heart is in the right place. The desire to help women assume their Biblical roles and love their husbands and families well is laudable and good.
And, there are some real nuggets of excellent counsel to be found in places within the pages of this book.
That being said, the nuggets are often (most often in my view) so buried beneath layer upon layer of Biblical misunderstanding and wrong reasoning as to make the book one I could not recommend to anyone. In many places it is truly a shame to read what has been written. And I feel most grievously for many of the women who have been guilted into a nonsensical and Biblically contrary approach to the marriage relationship by it, and worse, those who at present are living in the false manipulation I believe it teaches women to indulge in.
Rather than a summary critique, I have chosen here to simply make various citings, and then respond to those citings.
The ones I have chosen are only representative, and not exhaustive. One could find something on the vast majority of pages to object to Biblically.
Worried about folks seeing the Da Vinci Code? Don’t. They won’t be able to make it all the way through. And if they could, they’d be so mind-numbed by the end, they’d be begging for an exciting chance to watch water seep into brick!
My review of this yawn-inspiring film is just a click away.
I just this very moment got back from the theatre. My pic? What else? The Da Vinci Code. And Ive got two words for this film: STINK – ER!. Whoo-whee was this bad. And I, my friends, am a cinemaphile. It takes a LOT to make me dis a movie outright. I even enjoy some perverse delight in bad movies per se. Theyre usually fun on some level. But this one (and I am REALLY sad to say this) ranks right about up there with my all time worst on the Stink-o-Meter Vanilla Sky. Seriously do not even SAY the title Vanilla Sky in front of me, I break out in a rash. And this from a guy who LOVED Buckaroo Bonsai.
Now, I know this gal who shall remain nameless because I dont want to get her in trouble – but she is smart, talented, really beautiful and gets me my movie tickets free. Ive known her for years and somebody REALLY needs to marry this gal. If you are looking, let me know, Ill think about setting you up. She is a gem. I mention her only to say that if she had not gotten me a free pass I WOULD HAVE FELT SO RIPPED OFF PAYING TO SEE THIS PIECE OF FLOTSAM!
William G. T. Shedd
Edited by: Alan W. Gomes
Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 2003
In order to write this review, I have to tell you a personal story.
Yeah, its dated. But the book continues to sell and spawn ancillary “products”. Maybe a look back is worth it. Besides, it was still in my files. Waste not, want not!
It raises some of the perennial problems we have in Evangelicalism both in terms of superstitious approaches to Christianinty, as well as prayer itself. Hopefully, I’ll blog on both sometime in the relatively near future. But for now – Heeeeer’s Bruce!