So I guess I’m officially a book reviewer for this publishing house because I keep getting mailed these books. You may have read the one on Every Man’s Battle, in which I bemoaned the fact that I was not placed on the mailing list for a company that publishes good books. I really wish I was.
A few days ago, I received this book called Enter Wild by Carlos Whittaker. The subtitle on the front reads:
EXCHANGE A MILD AND MUNDANE FAITH FOR LIFE WITH AN UNCONTAINABLE GOD
And the back cover’s header:
EXPERIENCE THE WILD AND WONDER JESUS PROMISES
I had to re-read that back cover four times before I realized grammatically what it was trying to say. Where is the editor at this company??
I then began asking the questions, Haven’t I read this exact book a dozen times before? Didn’t John Eldredge write this book 4 times…then he was followed by the Circle Maker guy, then a dozen other Christian authors wrote the same book again and again? Why is this book necessary?
I got upset that this book somehow landed a publisher, yet none of my 5 have been able to. But I digress.
I flipped through the book and the first page I landed on was 168, where Whittaker was talking about being invited to the White House by Obama. What the heck is this story supposed to say?
I skimmed the rest of the chapter, eager to see where he landed. Sure enough, I could have predicted it:
“I obeyed. I suffered. And then I basked in the goodness of God’s abundance. Friends, if you haven’t yet seen the fullness of abundance in your life, don’t give up. Keep waiting. Wild is on its way.”
*Throws up in mouth*
Is the point that, if you follow God, you’ll also be invited to the White House and have stories as wild as Mr. Whittakers??
Did he just want to show off so he figured out a humble-brag moral to accompany this story?
I looked at some more pages, and sure enough, it was bursting with cute, self-deprecating stories which taught him a lesson (“Silly me! I didn’t know how to work the camera! My wife showed me how to adjust a few knobs and I got the picture I wanted! You can encounter ‘The Wild’ too if you know how to look!” p.180), or other stories which continually make him look cool like when he took his family on an African safari (p. 183).
Is this really what Christian communication has been reduced to?
I’ve thought of the perfect analogy. If you’ve seen The Big Short, or know anything about the housing market crisis in 2008, you know that people were basically selling hollow bubbles. The bubbles grew and grew despite being totally empty, and a burst was inevitable. Then there were bubbles which represented collections of other bubbles and so on.
This is what most Christian teaching has come to: You simplify a biblical idea with an analogy. Then you use another biblical idea to explain a different idea (Read, the author’s idea of killing spiders). Then later you combine those ideas into a super-idea. Then you take your super ideas and combine them into further bubblical ideas (see what I did there?) and eventually you’re simply spouting off air-filled balloons which have vague meaning and obscure references to the Bible; all of this done with hilarious personal stories and pithy illustrations. This is how we end up with trite, quasi-biblical ideas like this book, Republican Saviors, or any Steven Furtick message ever.
Is it any wonder most Christians today barely know anything about their own Bibles? As long as people keep buying books like these, the publishers will keep pumping them out. The ironic thing is that Rob Bell — pariah of the evangelical world — pulls more from the Bible, and more accurately, than writers like Whittaker, yet which of the two is outcasted?
But how about a book about what the Bible actually says about adventure? How about the fact that, whenever God blesses a people, He gives them land to settle, and when He curses them, He causes them to wander? Do you think that this could possibly tell us something about our own hearts?
This is ‘Merican Christianity at its finest. Gobble it up; justify your Instagrammable trips to third-world countries with tropes from books like this. After all, who could argue with the last page of the book, which reads, “We position ourselves to Enter Wild, and then God himself is the one who delivers it.”
An entire book was written leading up to that?
I’m tired of talking about this book, and the thousands like it. I’m sure Carlos is a great guy, great father, great husband, etc. But being a great person does not a writer make.
The Christian market is full of bubble makers and is devoid of poets, of artists, of philosophers. For each of those categories, I can think of 3 or 4 people who fit that description, and that’s pretty sad. Especially when you compare it to the number of people profiting off of evangelical media which has its roots not in the Bible, but in Americana and Tony Robbins-esque motivation.
Maybe someday the publishers will choose to give a voice to more original voices, but based on the pieces I keep receiving, it seems that they will continue opting for the profit-driving power houses.
Am I really just bitter that no publishers wanted any of my books, despite going on to be #1 best-sellers on Amazon? Probably.