Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Stop It!

Perhaps you're like me, and books (perhaps more recently, the internet) are your go-to guides for learning about things you are interested in or for finding ways to address an issue you're struggling with.

If you are, perhaps you also share my frustration with many current writers whose books are lauded on various blogs, Facebook, and Amazon.com reviews even before the book has been released to the general public. These reviewers have received an advance copy in exchange for an unbiased review but, unsurprisingly, all of the reviews are suspiciously the same and read like inside-cover endorsements from the author's fans and friends in the writing and speaking world.

As I read some of these books, I wonder if the reviewers and I have even read the same book. Perhaps, I think for just a second, major edits were made post advance- and pre-published copies were released. I know, though, that isn't the case.

Then I wonder if it's me! Am I the one who is always missing the point? Am I the one who is blind to the wonderful, life-changing, very practical insights that supposedly fill the pages of the book in question?

I don't think so. You see, I'm a good reader and have been since I was a little girl. I can find the main idea and supporting points and understand language with the best of them.

What I can't understand, and what is causing my frustration is the abundance of Christian-speak and the lack of true practical insight that both the professional and volunteers claim fills these books.

And if it frustrates me, a long-time Christian, I can only imagine how many new Christians or open-minded non-Christians have walked away totally lost, ready to give up on the whole "Christian walk" thing.

Now, I'm not saying that Christian-speak is something new to present-day writers (and speakers, for that matter). For decades, phrases such as "let go and let God" and "carry your cross" have been tossed around as if everyone knows exactly what they mean. And perhaps many people do.

BUT, and this is the point, many -- maybe even most -- of the people reading these types of books are reading them because they have heard these phrases uttered by Christians, don't know what in the world they mean, and have come to this book -- this book that promised a clear, practical explanation of whatever is the topic under discussion -- for answers.

Only to find more of the same Christian-speak.

Take me, for example. In recent months and years, I've noticed a lack of joy in my life. I've now carefully studied 3 of the most-praised, highest Amazon-rated and Good Reads-rated Christian books on the topic and am currently reading a 4th.

The first 3 were page after page of generalities and Christian-speak. I walked away disappointed. Then I began a year-long study of finding joy. I'm 8-weeks in, and still waiting for the author to explain the many phrases that pepper the text.

What, for example, is meant by "join my Savior in joy". How does a person "choose joy"?

Part of me thinks the author means by that 2nd phrase that the reader is to put away negative thoughts and think only positive, joy-filled thoughts and attitudes. That would make sense to me and, I think, many of the books' readers.

Except that the author repeatedly claims we as humans do not "have to figure this [finding joy] out". In fact, she says we cannot figure out how to find or manufacture joy!

Wait a minute. If we can't figure out how to find joy and don't have to anyway, what is the purpose of a 52-week on choosing it? Isn't that "figuring it out"?

Perhaps I sound cranky. Maybe I'm being unfair. But before you jump on the author/book-praising bandwagon, stop and think for a few minutes. Do you know, on a gut-level, do-it in the trenches level, what these 2 phrases I mention mean?

If you do, great. I applaud you, and I admire and even envy you your ability to cut through the platitudes. But me? They frustrate me. I long for plain-spoken language.

So I plead with Christian authors out there to stop it! Stop using Christian-speak.

Stop churning out books and speeches in which you string together trite phrases that you can't explain -- clearly and concisely -- to the seekers who buy your books and sit in the seats in churches and lecture halls.

Please. Just stop it.

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