27/12/2010

Jesus wants to save Christians (by Rob Bell and Don Golden)

I haven't read anything by Rob Bell, but have seen him on a few 'Nooma' DVDs - short anecdotes leading to discussion starters at a basic level for Christians and seekers. I've never before heard of Don Golden. I'd heard of this book but had not got around to looking for it, so was pleased when we were able to borrow it from a friend.

'Jesus wants to save Christians' has a sound starting point: the huge gap between the practices of most of the church in the 21st century and the principles Jesus espoused. Money is spent on building projects rather than feeding the poor, with hierarchies of organisation that make the business world look chaotic, at times.

The trouble is, the writing style just doesn't work. It's not the informality - I don't mind that at all. It's not even that it's written like somebody speaking rather than a book to read to oneself. But the layout (in my opinion) makes the book almost impossible to read. On nearly every page it suddenly breaks into single phrase paragraphs. Not just once or twice, but, often, ten or more one after the other. It's so very annoying that I couldn't manage to read more than two or three pages at a time, at first.

By the time I was about half way through I realised that these single-word or phrase paragraphs didn't actually add to what was said at all. They just repeated themselves, and I can only assume were there to fill up space which would have been better used by employing a somewhat larger, serifed font. So any time I came to a block of tiny paragraphs, I skimmed or missed it out entirely, and (as far as I know) didn't miss anything as a result.

The content is perhaps worth reading, although it doesn't say anything particularly radical to those of us who have never been involved in US mega-churches. There are some anecdotes here and there which were interesting, and some of the writing is thought-prpvoking. But I can't really recommend it because of all those infuriating tiny paragraphs.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 27th December 2010

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