Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What's In YOUR Inbox?

Perhaps you're a convert to the new generation of books, the kind that don't need a licked finger to turn the page, that don't emit a distinctive crackle when you first expose their words to daylight, that don't smell when you burrow your nose amidst the pages.

Obviously, I am not a charter member of the Kindle or Nook book club.

While I may salivate at the thought of having that many books at my fingertips no matter my GPS coordinates, reading by the light of a back-lit flat screen just isn't my image of "curling up with a good book."

In my estimation, a book shouldn't get hot the longer I read it, not in the physical sense at least.  Instead, I should be able to pluck it from my shelves years later for a trip down memory lane as I read my marginal comments, skim the highlighted sections that spoke to that era of my life, all accomplished by a mere fanning through the pages.

A good book should be laden with dog-eared pages and, if becomes part of our family, should require a full role of clear packing tape by the time my children have gone on to heavier tomes.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I learned I had agreed to review an electronic book.

Surely, this was a mistake. I even contacted the publisher to make sure the email reminder was a mistake, thinking perhaps the postal service had simply lost my print copy in transit.  

But no.  Their reps politely told me the book was only available in an electronic version.  A further trip to their website confirmed just that.

How had I missed this!?  I don't read e-books!

The publisher kindly re-emailed me the link to the book, but I let it sit in my inbox a few weeks more, absolutely dreading the thought of staring at the computer screen for another hour after I finished teaching online.

Last Saturday, though, I decided to bite the bullet.  With my schoolwork done for the weekend and husband outside pounding nails into the ceiling joists of his soon-to-be home office, I installed an e-reader on my computer's desktop and sighed, submitted myself to the dread to come.

By page ten, I knew God in all His sovereignty had ordained this "accident."  Here in these pages was an answer to prayer, one I had asked for earlier in August about the same time I had initially agreed to review this text.
Leonard Sweet's Real Church in a Social-Network World: From Facebook to Face-to-Face Faith is a brief, sixty-page e-book that seeks to answer the question of why Christianity is losing its impact in our world.  

His answer is simple--we've lost the interest in creating relationships.  Sweet argues, "No other generation has had as much access to so much Christian teaching…We’re practically buried in Christian ‘information.’ Yet, at the same time, our society is less enamored of Christian orthodoxy today than ever before.  What’s missing is the right relationship, a deepening relationship with God” (16).

Relationship with God and with others is the key to being a better disciple of Christ and to reaching a lost world.

Sweet describes the underlying theme of Scripture as a story of God's relationship with man.  Our modern generation, however, is so concerned about being doctrinally correct that Christianity has turned into a game of who's right and who's wrong. 

He asks, "Does the church lack credibility with the culture because Christians would rather be right than be in a relationship with one another? We’d rather be right about our positions, right about our condemnations, right about having the ‘right’ interpretation of Scripture.  We’d rather score points than secure relationships with others who share the Christian faith” (40-41).

The result? As Sweet says, "We may be doctrinally correct, but we have become spiritual cadavers” (21).  Ouch.  But quite poignant.

While I was disappointed that this book was actually a collection drawn from three of his other books (What Matters Most, The Three Hardest Words, and The Gospel According to Starbucks), it was well worth reading and whetted my appetite for those other books, although I'm hoping they're available in print!

I still reel to think God's response to my request prayed in teary anguish had been sitting in my inbox all this time, had I only accepted the format in which the answer came instead of arguing that this wasn't meant for me and seeking something different.  


  1. Very interesting. I can realate. A passion to know what Christ is like, less passion to be what Christ is like.

  2. Yes. It's sometimes easier to fall in love with the miracle than with the man, with what Christ can do versus who He is.

  3. I love them both. It all depends on whether the EBook is in Kindle format. This sounds like a timely book and a very good read (within the collection, of course).

  4. Our ^ mom used to tell us, "it's better to be in a right relationship than to be right."