PRIMAL: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity
I should have posted this review in December. I may lose my completely self-assigned blogger credentials for not posting this review when it was due. And I do feel badly about it because Random House people sent me this brand new book and I was too busy taking finals and, well, trying to have Christmas, to get it finished in time. But now here it is, and I think Random House will ultimately be pleased with my review anyway.
Because here’s what happened. I seriously considered skimming the chapter titles, reading the italicized and otherwise highlighted headings, and hoping for the best. I know, shocking. But when I sat down to read through the introduction, I got hooked. I HAD to know what else Batterson had to say. I had to read the rest of his ideas because what he lead off with was gold.
The outline of this book comes from Mark 12:30: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (NIV). One of the unfortunate consequences of being a church baby is that familiar Scriptures lose some of their initial impact. (This is one reason I love finding new translations like The Voice.) Batterson’s creative paraphrase of these four elements brought all the power back for me: compassion, wonder, curiosity, and energy. The assumption here is that most of us accent one or two of these areas (in academic circles, of course, the mind is exalted over the heart) as concerning our Christian faith while Jesus’ commandment expects us to employ them all.
If you’ve read Batterson before, you’ll be familiar with his casual but passionate style. He doesn’t waste words either. When we borrowed another Batterson book from Dan’s dad (In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day), we laughed out loud when we glanced at what he had underlined (with ruler, I should add): almost every page was underlined from top to bottom! But while this does speak somewhat to Dan’s dad’s equally passionate nature, it is also testament to Batterson’s knack for getting straight to the point.
Throughout the book, Batterson returns to the opening analogy of what it felt like to tour the underground site of a second century church. I’ll quote one of my favorite passages from the “Soul of Christianity” section. In it, Batterson explains why intellect alone is an insufficient (though necessary) exploration of Christianity because our imaginative souls require more:
When you descend the flight of stairs into the soul of Christianity what you discover is primal wonder. When you get past all the traditions and institutions, all the liturgies and methodologies, all the creeds and canons, what you’re left with is raw wonder that is beyond logic and beyond words. It cannot be reduced to the logical constraints of the left brain. It cannot be reduced to the twenty-six letters of the English alphabet. Wonder defies logic. Wonder defies words. And anything else or anything less is religion.
This is just a glance at the great material in this book. You’ll love the sections on Bible reading and prayer – fresh perspectives that will recharge your willpower for devotion. You’ll love Batterson’s simple approach but challenging spirit. You’ll leave this book wondering how to make it happen – how to rediscover the youthful power of our ancient faith. A great first of the year choice! Check out more here: