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This is the second of John Mark’s books that I’ve read, and it’s worth your time. I agree with the author that this really is his best work to date. I read My Name Is Hope a while ago, and he carries over his conversational writing style from that work. But in this book, there’s more research and engagement with others, and I think that’s a plus. There’s also maturity and thoughtfulness in the reflection and a spirit of encouragement and vulnerability that helps readers identify with him.
So, what’s it all about? Basically, he’s calling attention to the spiritual wreckage left in the wake of our push to hurry and achieve more (while we perhaps experience and appreciate less).This isn’t purely a result of smart-phone culture, but that has certainly exacerbated the issue. What I think Comer does really well is show how hurry is actually a spiritual vice. It’s crippling, and we need to relearn the ways of patience, stillness, and community.
What I Loved
Here are my favorite things about the book.
- There’s a clear and focused teaching on the dangers of hurry when it comes to our spiritual life. Hurry is not just a “bad habit” or “lifestyle problem.” It’s a spiritual evil. It handicaps us so that we can’t walk with the Lord as we should. It eliminates the reflective meditation that has, historically, always dogeared the Christian faith.
- While it’s not my own personal style preference, John Mark does a great job of being consistent in delivering a conversational, inclusive voice. This, mixed with his occasional humor, makes the reading seem light and airy, even though there are weighty things to consider.
- There’s some inspiring interaction with others on the issue of hurry, such as John Ortberg and Dallas Willard. The additional research he’s done comes through in other questions from secondary sources. I can tell that a great amount of time went into the book.
- I think it’s helpful to portray our life with Christ as “discipling” and “apprenticeship” as Comer does. We can all too easily get caught up in trying to think as Jesus did (which is a noble aim) without necessary living the way he did. This is an age-old problem. How do our ordinary, run-of-the-mill decisions compare to those of Jesus? Is there slowness and stillness in our living? Is community central?
- Plenty of great lines will get lodged in your mind (and, hopefully, your spirit), but here was my favorite, towards the end of the book: “Happiness isn’t the result of circumstances but of character and communion” (250). Chew on that for a bit.
What I Would Have Liked
My principle as a reader is always to be as charitable as I can, since I hope that readers will do the same for my books. I don’t have much to criticize here, but it would have been nice for each chapter to contain discussion questions. I’m getting in the habit of doing this for my practical books, since I want readers to do more than just read. I want them to change, to inspect themselves and draw things up to the surface. Without discussion questions, it’s a bit easier to breeze through a book without actually digesting the content. And our culture needs to slow down and process what Comer is saying here. There are plenty of practical (yet difficult) applications to make.
Should You Read the Book?
Yes! This is a timely book that many of us need to live, not just read. The way the book ends with a focus on community, slowness, and family time is beautiful, perhaps all the more because it’s so rare for many of us. Do yourself (and your family) a favor. Pick up the book and page through it carefully.