John Piper's Desiring God is one of the most influential books in Christian non-fiction. First released in 1986, Piper burst into the scene with his r...moreJohn Piper's Desiring God is one of the most influential books in Christian non-fiction. First released in 1986, Piper burst into the scene with his radical idea of Christian Hedonism, a term specifically chosen. Now, twenty-five years later, Piper's fourth edition of Desiring God has found its way into my hands for review. I already owned the 3rd edition, though I had not progressed past Chapter One of the book. This time around, I made my way through Piper's elegant writing and beautiful theology.
Desiring God is a collection of ten essays, dealing with a different element in Christian lifestyle. Piper devotes a chapter each to happiness, conversion, worship, love, scripture, prayer, money, marriage, missions, and suffering. He also includes a thorough appendix and study guide in the back of the book to assist the reader.
As Piper says in the Introduction, the purpose of Desiring God is to help the reader understand how Christian Hedonism should not only be pursued, but that its pursuit is biblical and ultimately satisfying to God. Piper turns the Westminster Shorter Catechism on its head by substituting the word by in place of and, yielding the thesis for Desiring God:
The chief end of man is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.
Much of Desiring God deconstructs modern thinking with clear biblical examples. Truly, Piper's desire to share his joy is not exhaustive, though it is rather thorough. There were times when I was scratching my head after re-reading a paragraph three times and still confused. Other times I was shaking my head and silently amen-ing. And more, the evidence as proposed by Piper does in fact seem biblical and liberating.
This book has not redefined my views as much as Kevin DeYoung's powerful Just Do Something did, but still, there is wisdom to be found in the pages. I can imagine a world filled with Christian Hedonists, running around and acting like Christians ought. I daresay that if more Christians acted like they ought--like the bible prescribes--and if more Christians had joy in their lives then we would have more people coming to God. To that end, Desiring God teaches a vital message.
A time or two it felt like Piper's firm belief in TULIP* (and his being a 5-point Calvinist, as much as I hate to use labels) was shining through his writing. It wasn't a pounding over the head as some are wont to do, and I do not fault Piper for letting his belief's influence his writing, though some surely do. As such, I care not one jot for Calvinism and Arminianism and I find this endless debate tiring and detrimental to the gospel Jesus preached. Thankfully this has very little to do with Piper's book.
In the end, Desiring God is an excellent book that has affected many, myself included. It would be a great book for a Sunday School class to discuss, or a discipleship group to meditate on. It's not an easy read, and it definitely requires a critical mind (and possibly a dictionary), but its teachings are worth the effort. Anything that pursues glorifying God is worth the effort, and if you're looking for some savvy non-fiction Christian thought, this book is perfect for you. Or, conversely, if you're curious about Christian Hedonism and its tenets, I can easily recommend John Piper's Desiring God .
Piper explains at the end of the book how he receives no royalties from Desiring God and that any money made from it goes to a fund to further the gospel by providing various resources for free. A number is listed to contact Desiring God Ministries for free resources, including this book, as well as many others. Also, Desiring God can be read for free on the DGM website, or also downloaded as a pdf and/or ebook.
*If you are not aware of this centuries old debate, then I don't recommend you educate yourself about it. It's ultimately disheartening and has caused way too much conflict within the world of Christianity.
FTC Thingy: The 25th Anniversary Edition of Desiring God was provided to me for free by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I am not required to endorse the book, and my doing so was of my own volition. There was no hypnosis.(less)
I first read Earth X a few years ago. I was largely unimpressed and decided not to read the sequels: Universe X and Paradise X. The whole series spans...moreI first read Earth X a few years ago. I was largely unimpressed and decided not to read the sequels: Universe X and Paradise X. The whole series spans five large trade paper backs and I didn’t want to invest in the story. For some reason I decided to pick up Earth X again and give it a shot, and this time I was quickly engrossed… or at least interested.
Earth X places the Marvel universe in the unspecified future. Captain America is an old man fighting a war against a large metaphor. Reed Richards, devastated over the deaths of his wife and the Human Torch, lives in seclusion in the remains of Dr. Doom’s mostly abandoned fortress. Wolverine is a fat, lazy slob who refuses to get off the couch. Peter Parker is much the same. In this future, familiar super-heroes are supplanted by a new breed of humanity: everyone has super powers.
In the midst of this, the Watcher pulls the cyborg X-51 to the moon and names him the new Watcher. The world is ending and the Watcher wants X-51 to tell him everything that’s happening, as the Watcher has been blinded. There’s also a time machine and about a million side-plots. And dinosaurs.
The bulk of Earth X is told in a somewhat passive voice through conversation between X-51 and the Watcher. The Reader sees different events happening on earth, but immersion is mostly omitted, ironically forcing the Reader to take part as a watcher. Inserted throughout the trade paperback is various info-dumps that basically serve to fill in the Reader on more information about what exactly is going on. These info-dumps are yawn-inducing at best, largely unimportant and extremely uninteresting. They’re kind of like deleted scenes on a DVD.
This time around I still felt that Earth X was a bit heavy handed and too philosophical for its own good, but the story was somewhat entertaining. When I finished the introductory issue I happily picked up the first volume of Universe X to see where the story was heading. Not where I thought, which was a good thing, but the story turned more ridiculous as the pages depleted. By the conclusion of Universe X Volume 2 I was ready to quit again, but I hung in there, hoping the concluding volumes would be okay.
Halfway through Volume One of Paradise X I gave up the ghost and quit. The groans were too loud for me to continue. I developed a tic and a severe allergy to the Marvel Universe. I was no longer at all interested. I flipped through the rest of Volume I and did the same for Volume II, skimming over the artwork and totally ignoring the text. There were a few cool-looking scenes, and if I could somehow read the comic without the words I might continue, but I could not, and I just didn’t have it in me to start again.
Maybe I’m just the wrong audience for this kind of mega-comic. I’ve been a lifelong comic book reader, a lifelong fan of Marvel (albeit niched to really only just Spider-Man and the X-Men for most of my growing years), and I’ve even been known to enjoy an occasional philosophical tangent for no other reason than to wander down different avenues of thought. But the Earth X saga failed (twice) to live up to expectation. The writing was terrible and the plot was such a mess that meaning was lost in untranslated psychobabble. Joss Whedon wrote the introduction for Earth X, praising the series as innovative and entertaining. I disagree with Mr. Whedon here. It may have been innovative when it was written, but I cannot imagine it ever being entertaining.
All in all I really cannot recommend the five-volume saga of Earth X. There were plenty of people who enjoyed it, but count me out on this one. Sorry.(less)