Friday, July 10, 2009
Book Review for Joni Lamb's Surrender All
When reading any work of non-fiction, one must first determine what the goal of the author is, To entertain? To inform? To Persuade? It is the final option that is the most difficult but it is that goal which Joni Lamb chooses for her book Surrender All.
She attempts to convince you to surrender your all to God.
In order to do this, she lays out what, I am sure she thinks, is a well planned out logical argument. This argument is indeed compelling (if ultimately severely lacking in the area of logic).
She starts off the book with the following questions; Do you believe in God? Do you believe that he has a personal stake in your life? Her argument for surrender basically assumes that you have answered YES to both of these statements… she doesn’t try to convince you that there is a God and she only briefly discounts the belief that God might just not care about you personally being more concerned with other God-like worries.
This flaw in her logic can be easily overlooked however if you are of the target demographic; someone who already believes in God. There’s more to it though… it isn’t enough to believe in God, you must surrender to God or else you run the risk of living a horribly unpleasant life despite your faith.
This is where the true essence and problem of the book lies. She spends the next hundred or so pages giving “examples” of people who either didn’t believe or (and this is key) didn’t believe in God enough to warrant the “good life.’ Many of her stories start off with the “There was this man who believed in god but he hadn’t truly surrendered and thus he was unhappy….”
It’s that same old “You might be Christian, but you aren’t a REAL Christian unless….” This is a syndrome of many churches that people find hypocritical.
And her evidence? Her “proof” that only by surrendering all will you ever find true happiness and peace with God? Nothing but a very long list of anecdotal examples which hardly can be used as any sort of reliable evidence.
She also relies heavily on “post hoc ergo propter hoc” as in “I lost my keys, I prayed, then I found my keys… therefore God is not only real but wanted me to find my keys and only gave them back to me because I prayed.”
This sort of attitude is dangerous and it wasn’t long before the examples of people being healed with prayer started to crop up. Of course, hot on their heels were examples of people who weren’t healed because they lacked the proper amount of faith.
Throw in a few tried and true guaranteed to make the liberal Christians vomit sentiments like rock music has evil subliminal messages and the Enemy causes depression, you need good loud praying to cure you and you have the rest of the book. My personal favorite is the lesson (stated over and over again) that God can heal all things if you have faith… even your abusive meth addicted husband. So stick it out, don’t even think about divorce, and just pray really really hard.
In other words, surrender to blind faith.
Obviously, I am not her target audience. I find her logic trite and untrue. I think she does an actual disservice to the religion of Christianity as a whole by touting this “not quite Christian enough” mentality. I also find her views on healing and domestic violence appalling.
Would this sort of fear mongering guilt inducing series of scary bedtime stories work on a believer? I’m not sure. Her television empire is doing quite nicely, so someone must be buying into this.
However the fact that her book has been out since last year and her PR firm contacted me to do a review of it makes me think that sales must not be as good as they would like… Seriously, seeking out a blogger such as myself (with my dozens of gay rights and sexually progressive posts) to write about your book for what could quite possibly be the opposite of your demographic, speaks of either server scraping of the bottom of the barrel or a potentially brilliant conversion method.
Joni’s voice is clear in the book, she writes in a wonderful style that is both conversational and genuine. Her message, however, needs work