Book Review: Divided: When the Head and Heart Don’t Agree, by Bill Delvaux

Divided: When the Head and Heart Don’t AgreeWhen I requested a review copy of Bill Delvaux’s Divided: When the Head and Heart Don’t Agree I thought to myself, “How does one successfully solve the long debated ‘head vs. heart’ dilemma in under two hundred pages?” I went in with an assumption about what Delvaux was attempting to accomplish, but by the time I got to the final two chapters I realized why the reader was being taken on this journey that never seems to land anywhere. What’s the point, you ask? I don’t know about other reviewers and how they’ll approach this one, but answering that would be akin to spoiling a good movie. This book will catch you off guard—in a good way—if you’re willing to stick with the journey.

Divided is presented in three sections:

  1. “Viewing the Divide: How it Began and What It Destroys” — If you don’t connect and relate at the start of this section, just keep reading. Eventually one of the many anecdotes will strike a chord and you’ll find yourself acknowledging your own divide.
  2. “Tackling the Divide: Three Terrains to Navigate” — This is where the reader is forced to consider more holistically one’s own story and listening to others in order to better understand the person. Great stuff. Yes, but how does this tackle the divide? It doesn’t matter; just keep reading.
  3. “Closing the Divide: What the Journey Feels Like” — So this is where it’s wrapped up in a nice package, right? Notice the subtitle is not “How to Fix It.” Once you get this far, you’re too invested to turn back, you’re not sure why you’re reading but know you need to keep going, and then *wham!* it hits you. “What the Journey Feels Like” is an appropriate description, and it’s only after journeying with Delvaux to the end will you realize the necessity of the journey.

If, like Paul, you struggle with doing the things you know not to do and not doing the things you know to do; if you put on a façade to hide the real you that you think others will hate; if you act and react out of an unknown position that lies in the darkest parts of you that you’re afraid to explore or may not even know exists, then Divided may be what helps you work through it. Don’t expect to be fixed along the way, but expect to be called out and called to action in taking steps toward your own journey through your own divide.

There were some points at which I disagreed with Delvaux’s handling of Scripture (particularly his use of Job), but these aren’t serious enough to affect the larger purpose of the book.

Recommended.

 

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers 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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Book Review: Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides, by Scott Sauls

Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking SidesIt’s been a while since I’ve struggled with how to review a book, but here I sit typing and deleting my introductory sentence over and over. I’ve never heard of Scott Sauls, but I respect him and what he’s attempting to do with this new book, Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides. The thesis is great, the introduction is wonderful (this should be made freely available on a blog somewhere [Edit: An hour after posting this, Scott sent me this link: http://scottsauls.com/2015/02/04/611/.]), and then the rest of the book struggles with handling differing perspectives—how to work around the lines. Sauls is a Presbyterian minister, so I don’t expect him to write from another perspective; however, in a book trying to look at Jesus outside the lines of “My Christian Tribe” and “Christianity” (the two “parts” of the book), Sauls draws some pretty significant lines, some of which stem from particularly important Presbyterian conclusions. That’s fine, and I look to the “Introduction” and remember that he’s probably okay with my disagreeing with him on several of his lines, or at least the reasoning behind them.

So, here we have a book that doesn’t really wrestle with the both/and (or neither!) in a way that would be appropriate for its introductory claims, but there’s also a lot of really helpful material. There are some in-your-face moments that make me want to blow up Twitter (they’re too long, but I want to anyway!), and then there are moments when I want to throw the book at the wall for not delivering what I wanted from it (that’s my problem). It would be much easier to review and critique individual chapters on their own merit outside of the larger context, which I would probably do in a more favorable light, but as a whole the book just isn’t what it claims to be—it doesn’t take the reader on the “journey outside the lines” (xxvii) it promises. With that, I leave it up to the reader to decide whether or not he or she wants to go on a journey with Sauls.

Aside: If the author, editor, and publisher happen to read this, I would recommend publishing a book on the same thesis but with a collection of essays from differing perspectives and authors to help round it out.

 

*This book was provided by Tyndale House Publishers for review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I offered or provided any compensation.

Book Review: Simply Open: A Guide to Experiencing God in the Everyday, by Greg Paul

Simply Open: A Guide to Experiencing God in the EverydayGreg Paul’s Simply Open: A Guide to Experiencing God in the Everyday begins with a seven-part prayer (open my: eyes, ears, nostrils, mouth, hands, mind, and heart), each of includes four things: releasing, receiving, becoming, and doing. Paul takes a chapter for each of these seven, beginning with a short introduction and then elaborating upon each of the four subsections. But this is not a book about prayer. The reader is viscerally drawn into Paul’s stories of wisdom and experience in becoming more open to God, ending each section with a reminder as to why we pray these things. The goal is to simply be open to God, and so also to others and ourselves as they should lead us to further and better glorify God.

We often fit our lives into closed systems we think provide predictable results if we simply follow the right steps, but this keeps us just that: closed, and often frustrated. We are too loud to hear what God is telling us, looking in the wrong places to see what is being shown to us, asking the wrong questions to understand the answer, always trying to do it our way, perhaps the way we’ve been told things work. Being open to God shoves all that aside and brings us into a posture of humility. We will continue to seek and question, among many other things, but the way in which we do them and our attitude toward a given response will be distinctly different—healthier…holier. Paul helps us make this change.

I could narrow down a particular group of people who should read this book—those who find themselves always needing an answer, struggle with humility, or hold tightly to their own plans—but I won’t. This is for everyone. I could say, “This is the best book I’ve ever read on prayer,” except that it isn’t a book about prayer. I could say many things, but what I really want to say is read it! I’ll be coming back to this one.

 

*Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers 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.”