Scary Close (review)

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Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Acquiring a Taste for True IntimacyScary Close: Dropping the Act and Acquiring a Taste for True Intimacy by Donald Miller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“These are snapshots of the year I spent learning to perform less, be myself more, and overcome a complicated fear of being known,” writes Donald Miller in the first chapter of Scary Close, his latest memoir (Kindle Location 173).

The learning includes listening to the input of trusted friends and counselors, making mistakes that almost cost him his relationship with Betsy, giving up control, finding compromises, and finally understanding and embracing the new relationship paradigm he is entering: “Applause is a quick fix. And love is an acquired taste” (K.L. 118).

The journey is easy to take, delivered as it is in Miller’s personable voice. Some of his stories are funny, some poignant, some instructive, some inspirational, and a couple even made me squirm in embarrassment. For this sometimes-bumbling man is nothing if not transparent.

Though God doesn’t play an out-front role in Miller’s story, He is there in its presuppositions and moral underpinnings. The one significant God-lesson that stuck with me Miller relates near the end of the book where he writes about how his whole life has been a search to fill a hole of longing and loneliness inside. When Jesus didn’t fill that hole early in his Christian life, Miller says he nearly abandoned his faith. But now, through reading the Bible he realizes that the incompleteness he is feeling will never be satisfied on earth—not even by the most compatible partner. He says:

“What differentiates true Christianity from the pulp many people buy into is that Jesus never offers that completion here on earth. He only asks us to trust him and follow him to the metaphorical wedding we will experience in heaven” (K.L.2281).

However, he sees his marriage as key in helping him endure that longing. Instead of expecting the lover to fill that hole: “… we will comfort each other in the longing and even love it for what it is, a promise that God will someday fulfill us” (K.L.2299).

I would recommend Scary Close to anyone who loves a good memoir—but especially to singles who have had many relationships but still never found the one. The man who says he was “… rescued from my fear and insecurity that made me so frighteningly poor at relationships, rescued from isolation and from fairy-tale illusions about what love really is” (K.L.2397) might just have some clues for you.

I received Scary Close as a gift from the publisher for writing a review.

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Loveology (review)

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Loveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex. and the Never-Ending Story of Male and Female.Loveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex. and the Never-Ending Story of Male and Female. by John Mark Comer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just in time for Valentine’s Day another book about love: Loveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex. And the Never-Ending Story of Male and Female by Portland (Oregon) pastor John Mark Comer. It’s a theology of love written “… for singles, engaged couples, and the newly married who want to learn what the Scriptures have to say about sexuality and relationships” –from the back of my hardcover copy.

Loveology quote - J. M. Comer

The book addresses the gamut. It begins with the creation of the first couple. It talks about four purposes of marriage. It explains why sex is tov (good) at least if it follows the Song of Solomon pattern. It explores romance, the obstacle course of dating, the differences between male and female, how to enjoy the state of singleness, and the biblical attitude toward homosexuality. The book ends with a hefty Q&A section of real-life questions encountered when the author presented the book’s content as an event.

Comer’s writing style is savvy and casual with enough vernacular to give the sense that he knows the demographic he’s addressing. As a work of theology it’s easy to read. Comer has the instincts of a good teacher and presents his ideas logically and in an order that makes sense. His use of Hebrew and Greek word studies along with illustrations from the lives of Bible characters helps him get to the nub of what the Bible teaches.

Loveology quote - J. M. Comer

I like the way he examines 21st century ideas and assumptions about love, courtship and marriage, contrasting how the culture of Bible times differed from ours.  He goes into the history of some of our customs showing how practices like dating and choosing one’s own marriage partner are recent with a dubious track record for creating long-lasting marriages (though he doesn’t advocate arranged marriages). While he does trip all over himself trying not to give offense on socially tricky topics like men taking the leadership role in marriage and a Christian stance toward homosexuality, he does end up sticking with the orthodox biblical position (despite its current unpopularity amongst the general population).

Loveology design

Loveology design features.

My one objection to the book is its physical design (I read the hardcover edition). The beginning page of each section is hot pink with white print. Talk about hard to read in any but bright daylight! I found myself dreading another pink page—a distraction from the book’s message for sure. As well, the footnote numbers are in hot pink, making them almost invisible. Also, long quotes from the Bible (Genesis 2:15-25 and Proverbs 8) serve as front and back bookends for the body of the book. These are in huge font (pink on white) with no spacing for verses or paragraphs. Again my eyes say NO!

Loveology quote - J.M. ComerOther than those design quibbles Loveology is an excellent book for anyone who wants to understand what the Bible teaches about love, marriage, courtship, sex, and singleness. For a generation of Christian youth bombarded by messages and images saturated with sex, it’s a timely and needed book. It would make a great study for youth groups and an appropriate addition to the reading list of premarital counselors and their counselees.

I received Loveology as a gift from the publisher (Zondervan) for the purpose of writing a review.

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