Shhhhh...do you hear that? It's silence, and in my house, that means that all the little people are asleep for naps, and that it's time to do some writing! I dedicated today to finishing Rooted by Banning Leibscher and writing my 2nd book review since joining Blogging for Books.
My short review: This book is not only excellent, but the council inside of it is crucial for the Church to be effective.
I will start with the content of the book, and where it fits into the world. Then I will move on to more technical things.
This book is basically about 3 environments that God uses to grow you so that you can change the world with your specific calling. Throughout the book Banning uses David's life as the backdrop to the process of how, in healthy soil, a seed grows into a mature tree that bears lasting fruit, which is an analogy for our spiritual growth.
Banning's name is Irish for small, fair one (I looked it up, 'cause like, really, have you ever met an American named Banning?). I find this really amusing because if you have ever listened to him speak, his vision for change is anything but small. You can that tell the Lord has put a desire in him to ignite in other people a passion for world change and his passion is tangible in the pages of the book.
Like any book nerd, I investigated the layout of the book. How long was this book anyways? Were there cool pictures? Was the font easy to read? Are there questions at the end?
The first half of the book is aimed at explaining WHY we need a root system, followed by the 3 soils for healthy roots: Intimacy, Serving and Community. The length of the first portion of the book actually took me by surprise. I had listened to a few leadership podcasts and watched a video that specifically spoke about his book, so I had gotten a good preview of what I was going to expect. He had explained that the first portion of the book was laid out like this, but I was expecting maybe a couple of chapters, not half the book. My first thought was Oh no, we've got a dragger... but then I saw something else. Come with me to the land of make believe...
We have 2 generations of the most informed and confident people alive together on the planet right now - the Y and Z Generation. We are so confident, we actually need some boundaries. Let me explain.
In the last few decades, there has been an increased focus on the value of self-esteem. The 1980's was the era where this was flourishing. Nursery songs and children's books featuring themes such as uniqueness, validation of feelings, self-expression, capability and praise were becoming very popular. On the other hand, the authoritarian parenting model was fazing out. Kids were allowed more and more freedom in the name of self expression and self-esteem. I think these things are really healthy, but as with everything, it needs to be in balance with other principles.
Coupled with infusing these kids with confidence was the birth of the internet age, making just about everything accessible within seconds. We want it, and we want it now. In short, along with the good stuff, the Generation Y's exibit symptoms of narcissism, entitlement, and impatience. We live in a time where peoples' picture albums are full of selfies, where graphic t-shirts say things like "I'm not spoiled, I just get what I want", and where seeing a beautiful swirling rainbow circle on a Mac computer makes our blood pressure rise. I know from personal experience, I am a Generation Y myself. But nobody wakes up in the morning and says "hmm, how can I be a self-centered, impatient person today?", I am merely pointing out that it is generally more acceptable to act like this and people not object to it.
So now Generation Y is making babies, and do you know what values they are going to teach them? The same, except with conviction. They experienced what praise, affirmation, self-expression and validation feel like. and they want to love their kids the best they know, and they know that this feels good. Generation Y's are making children's shows now. I can see these values highlighted in shows like Daniel Tiger and Curious George. (Click here if you want more info on how these values have manifested in our society.) Like I said before, I think it is healthy for children to be taught these things, but if they are not held in tension with servanthood and a healthy dependance on others, the life process could easily become about the individual and not God's purpose for their life.
So here you have two generations of people who are pumped with passion, feel a responsibility to change the world, have no doubt they can do it and few social restrictions. Social media has enabled these groups to witness not only what is going on in the world, but showcased role models who are paving the way for them. This generation wants to have what those world changers are having, and they want it now.
So, the length of Banning's explanation for WHY we need a root system is incredibly justified. It is natural for these generations to wonder, Why SHOULD I endure the discomfort of serving and community? I've totally got this...So I don't know if Banning intended the need to address the issue, but it is good that he did.
Although it was long, the introduction did not disappoint. It was rich with captivating stories tucked between a neatly organized thesis. This book is not a light read and thankfully the editor...or whoever... thought it wise to separate the chapters into subheadings. I think this will enable readers to read the book in chunks and not get overwhelmed by all the information.
Like I mentioned above, after the 'intro', the book is separated into the 3 soils to grow secure roots. I don't really have anything profound to say, but that Banning is, I believe, spot on with these things. The issues I mentioned above are not completely exclusive to Y and Z's. Believers in general avoid the conflict associated with the church. People don't really have an argument against hanging out with Jesus (Intimacy), but there is definitely some conflict in the church regarding Serving and Community. I mean, is there really anything else that gets under our skin like people??
That concludes my commentary on the content of the book. Now, some technical critiques and comments. Let's start with the cover of the book.
The cover is refreshingly crisp and calm, a white cover with a simple illustration of a green sprout. A+ on this. We have WAY too much info coming at us everyday, a cover like this is likely to bring warm fuzzy feelings to a prospective buyer in the book store.
The editors chose to have a top of the page chapter title heading; I really like this because it makes finding certain parts of the book easy.
The font was your standard font, but the subheadings matched the cover font, which was some sort of caps sans serif font. You might be thinking, Really? I'm wasting my time reading about a font?
Trussssssssst me, FONT MATTERS. I'm not really a font person- I don't know the names other than the standard ones and what sans serif/serif means. And I do obsess a little over the font in this blog, but can't seem to find more options than a couple. And I normally wouldn't scout out font when editing a book...but then...I read a book that had the most absurd font, and it made reading the book really difficult. There is a reason for certain fonts. Our eyes can pick out certain shapes more easily, and when you are reading hundreds of letters a minute, boy does it count. Additionally, the last thing you want as a writer is for your reader to put your book down because of a silly mistake regarding font. Your reader will get tired with mismatched subheadings, or fonts that are hard on the eyes or not the right size.
So, font was good.
Here is one of my critiques. The editors chose to do one of those things where they highlighted a profound quote from the author. I normally see it tucked off to the side, like this:
But it was like this:
I found this really distracting. At first in my mind I was interpreting it as another section, but if of course wasn't. It really disrupted the flow of reading. I would recommend going with the first example.
Another thing I wished the book had was a nice summary of the points Banning spoke about in each chapter. I was thinking Man, this is so good, I really want to make sure I'm getting this. But there really is so much information in each chapter it can be difficult to absorb it all in the reading process. I am not saying the chapters needed to be shorter, just that there is a tool for readers to effectively retain the information.
So, that's all I really have. I will definitely be recommending this book to my friends and strangers. :) Happy reading y'all!