Page Count: 176
Publication Date: March 23, 2010
List Price: $14.99
Rating: 1 Star
Purchase Options: Direct from the Publisher, Amazon
Different Eyes: The Art of Living Beautifully is a book I originally received for a blog tour that ran April 12-16, 2010. My apologies to Chris Fann at Zondervan for completing this review two weeks after the fact. I struggled my way through this book, which I’ll elaborate on in the review that follows below.
In recent months, I have noticed a flurry of new titles bringing into question the status quo of modern Christianity in regards to how we act within the church and larger society. While there are likely many titles of this nature published each year, for whatever reason this is a genre that has only come onto my radar in recent months. In Different Eyes: The Art of Living Beautifully, Steve Chalke and Alan Mann ask the reader to consider what or who our worldview is rooted in and how that effects our daily choices as well as our ethical responses to the hot button issues we face today. The hot button issues specifically drawn out in this book are: War and Military Intervention, The Use of Wealth, Homosexuality, and Euthanasia and Assisted Dying. As we engage with both Christians and non-Christians on these matters within larger society, we soon find that views differ widely from person to person. It is not safe to assume that all of share common beliefs about the foundational truths of Christianity. As our beliefs on the foundational truths vary, inevitably so will our ethical responses, because it is these foundational truths that shape our personal moral framework and worldview.
So, what does “different eyes” and “living beautifully” have to do with Christian worldview and ethics? Without the context of the book, this title may seem a bit confusing. However, it becomes more clear when you understand that the title finds it meaning in the person and work of Jesus Christ. “The followers of Jesus see things with different eyes, because for us the story of his life and teaching, death and resurrection is definitive to our understanding of the telos, or ‘end’ of all life.” (Chalke & Mann, 2010, p. 154). “Living beautifully turns out to be about the discipline of slowly developing the right kinds of habits and instincts. For those who fail to cultivate such ethical reflexes, all too often the tough decisions that arise are insoluble, whereas, for those who through discipline have acquired the necessary skills, many of the situations others experience as crises of choice pass by unnoticed. Or to put it another way – holiness is a habit, not a performance.” (Chalke & Mann, 2010, p. 66). Hopefully that is enough information to give you a flavor of what this book is about. Now I’d like to move on to some of the things that caused me to struggle with this book.
The book has a fairly simple layout comprised of four parts, each including 2 sections and a third section labeled thinking Christianly. I was very frustrated with the part and section titles as I felt they told the reader next to nothing about the contents of that part of the book. For example, here are the part and section titles from the first quarter of the book: Part 1: Clear Sighted, Section 1: Surprised, Section 2: Imaginative, Thinking Christianly: War and Military Intervention. The only thing that made sense to me in the entire table of contents was the Thinking Christianly sections, because the title actually gave you an idea of the topic being covered. Another thing this book was lacking is a preface or introduction as well as a conclusion. In my experience, the preface/introduction and conclusion are important places for the author to clearly summarize their intentions and purpose for a book, setting you off on the right foot at the start and bringing it all together at the end. I was also surprised that I was unable to find any discernible transitioning between the parts and sections of the book. It really felt like each section was an essay unto itself. There were numerous Bible translations used to quote scripture throughout the book, so much so that I felt like I was starting to feel a bit of Bible translation schizophrenia. I noted at least four different translations: CEV, NIrV, NIV, NEB. I prefer to see a work rely on a single translation. When there are many translations used, I suspect an author may be doing a bit of English translation proof texting in order to lend the most credibility to the point they’re trying to make. While it is possible that the author felt these translations had the best rendering of the Greek/Hebrew, I have to assume the former, because it was not noted otherwise. The final concern I want to raise is related to the authors/theologians quoted throughout the text. Some of the more notable names are: Hauerwas, Boyd, Mclaren, & Bell. I am very cautious about anything written by these four authors and am equally cautious when I see quotes from all four of them showing up in a single place.
All things considered, this book left me with a high level of disappointment. The one thing I found useful was the Thinking Christianly section that ended each part of the book. These could be useful for group discussion as it presents two opposing views on one of the hot button issues noted above (War and Military Intervention, The Use of Wealth, Homosexuality, and Euthanasia and Assisted Dying) as well as discussion questions. The rest of the book left me with numerous frustrations, which are noted in the paragraph above. My rating for this book is 1 star.
Steve Chalke is an ordained minister and the founder of Oasis, which over the last 25 years has developed into a group of charities working to deliver education, training, youth work, health care and housing around the world. He is the senior minister of Church.co.uk, Waterloo and a UN Special Advisor working to combat people trafficking. In 2004 he was awarded an MBE by the Queen for his work in social inclusion.
Alan Mann is a freelance writer, educator and consultant in the area of Christianity and contemporary culture. He has worked with Steve Chalke on numerous publications, including The Lost Message of Jesus.
This book was provided for review by Zondervan.
Latest posts by Shaun Tabatt (see all)
- Book Review: The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross - April 2, 2016
- Book Giveaway: Being Dad: Father as a Picture of God’s Grace by Dr. Scott Leonard Keith - January 11, 2016
- Free Audiobook: COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE – AUDIO EDITION - January 5, 2016