I have mixed thoughts on this book. I wanted to read it for a few reasons.
- Brian McLaren seems to generate some controversy and I wanted to see for myself what all the hype was about.
- The subtitle had the words life and simple in it and that sounds honestly refreshing.
- The main title included the word naked. Sorry.
It could be that Brian does not write it simply. Or I could just be a lot dumber than I thought. Either option is on the table. I'll let you decide.
But then I got past the introductory chapters. This may just be a me thing, but I prefer to see an author say what he's going to write about and then simply start writing about it. Because once I got into the heart of this book, I actually enjoyed it.
The premise is actually quite simple. Brian writes of 12 simple words that can help us focus through four seasons of life. The seasons are simplicity, complexity, perplexity and harmony. We may go through all of these seasons more than once and most will cycle through a few times. This is not intended to be a straight linear path. This is more proposed to be a winding circle as we go through the seasons of life.
Early on in the preface, Brian writes the following;
You won't find much in the way of aggressive arguments here, but rather a shy experience daring to step into the light. ... You won't need to agree with all the planks of my theological platform. I am a Christian, and all I write flows from my experience in that rich tradition, but you may be of another tradition entirely or of no known tradition at all.
Those couple of statements can be seen as both positive and negative. On the one hand, he clearly states he is a Christian. This is a good thing, because there are points that seem so muddled that I began to wonder. I had to repeatedly remind myself that we didn't have to agree on everything.
On the other hand, because Brian said this was not a book of theological arguments, it leaves him free to assume that we're all on the same page as far as how truth is interpreted. There are some obvious ways that he and I would differ in what we believe (which I will purposely avoid in this review for the sake of brevity). But there were times in which I had to seriously consider if his premise still held value considering the foundation of his points were shaky at best.
In the end, if you can look past where we would not agree and choose to look for what can be agreed upon, this book can be very much like sitting down with a friend over coffee and talking about how the two of you manage this thing we call life. I'd say that as long as you know what you believe, this book is worth the read.
I received this book from my great friends at The Ooze (http://theooze.com). They tell me to say something about the book, but not what to say. And so I do.