Mini Reviews #9

December 29, 2011

Thanks to my new NOOK, I’ve been on a reading tear lately. So here are two more mini-reviews:

The Cure for the Common Life  by Max Lucado

I appreciate Lucado’s unique gift at taking difficult concepts and making them easy for lay people to understand. In The Cure for the Common Life, Max shares a winsome, wise, and thoroughly biblical case for living a life of maximum impact. He encourages people to discover how God has gifted them, skills, abilities, opportunities, background, and leverage that for maximum Kingdom purpose. He grounds it in God’s desire to see His glory revealed in each of His children. He also uses specific examples of people who found their “sweet spot”, where their gifts, callings, and opportunities align with God’s purpose. What I like is that Lucado pushes replaces the cultural idea of “you can be what you want to be” and replaces it with “you can be what and who God wants you to be.”

Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler

I have wanted to read this book for some time and finally downloaded it to my Nook and read it during this holiday break. It’s a unique book in that it is a memoir of life in the Old Order Amish. Anyone who fantasizes about the seemingly simple and idealized life of the Amish will quickly discover the frustrations and heartbreak that occur when living under a legalistic, closed system.

What I particularly enjoyed about this, more than most recent memoirs, is that this is not self-serving and it is very fair. Wagler is honest about his parents shortcomings and the problems with the Amish faith, but he’s also very complementary about some of the noble and good things about their community. While we may reject their theology, there are many things to admire about the Amish and Wagler points those out. He’s also very honest about the disappointment and hurt he caused in his relationships. You might expect him to blame all of his troubles on the Amish way, but he really doesn’t.

I found it fascinating to learn how real Amish live. I was surprised at how different various communities can be from each other, in terms of their rules and ways of life. I was also surprised at how plugged in some of the youth are to pop culture, even though they are sequestered in the community. Perhaps the most poignant part of the book is the struggle Wagler (and most Amish youth) had in leaving the community and coming back. It was only when he found true salvation in Christ by grace did he realize there was a third way between the life of the Amish (which he perceived as the only way to God) and the outside world.

The only weakness I see in this memoir is that it seems unfinished. He ends abrubtly with the last time he left the community. I would have loved to known about how the next twenty years went outside, how he adjusted to modern life, how he met his wife, built his career. I saw on his bio that he attended Bob Jones University for a spell–how did he get from Amish to BJU? Perhaps the editors felt the book was too long, but I was waiting for more.

All in all, though this is a wonderful memoir worth reading.