Thursday, March 5, 2015

Review: "More: From Messes to Miracles" by Tammie Head

There is an ancient practice in Celtic Christianity called the “soul friend.”  Essentially, it was the earliest systematized form of the contemporary practice of mentoring where one Christian seeks guidance, instruction or discipline from another Christian.  In many ways, Tammie Head’s book More functions like a “soul friend.”  Head, a Christian woman who has overcome a great deal of adversity in her life, including a teenage shotgun marriage and escaping the sex trade industry, does not offer a treatise on Christian theology nor does she offer an organized plan for spiritual growth.  What she does offer is a conversation, a conversation about faith.  She is honest about her faults and struggles, especially those about her marriage and pride in ministry.  She does offer some thoughts and reflections on some spiritual disciplines that have been helpful to her, like intercessory prayer and reading scripture.  However the bulk of the content comes in the form of stories collected over a lifetime of spiritual peaks and valleys.  The ultimate goal of her book is simple: God can redeem any messy person and turn him or her into a glorious spiritual miracle.  The chapters do not necessarily follow any particular progression but function more like informal conversations around a dinner table or in a coffee shop.  There is a lot of good stuff here, a buffet of stories and insights that can benefit readers in only one chapter doses or in reading the entire book at once.

As basic and conversational as this book is, there are a few faults that I had with it.  For the most part, these are fairly small details, however I think they are worth noting.  First, there are a few places where the author refers to her readers as “daughters of God.”  Now, I get it—very few men are going to read this book; it is written more for women.  However, as a male reader and as one who gets aggravated when male writers assume only men will read their books, I think Head does herself a disservice by assuming that only women will read her book.  As I mentioned above, there is a lot of good stuff here that can benefit any reader, regardless of gender.  Second, the author gets a little repetitious in some of her comments and stories.  This was not so much of a returning to stories in order to continue telling them as much as it was repeating stories as if that particular story had not been told previously.  Third—and this one is a little theological—the author mixes or equates the roles of God and Jesus in a way that made me scratch my head a time or two.  From an evangelical perspective, I can understand the blurring of Trinitarian personalities because we teach them as one in the same.  However, from an academic perspective, this reflects a lacking in biblical and theological competency that is problematic, especially for skeptical, unchurched readers.

Overall, I think this is a good book that will a helpful read for those who are looking for some encouragement on how God can turn our messes into miracles.

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