Thursday, August 11

Earthen Vessels by Matthew Lee Anderson


 When it comes to books on faith there are very few that focus on the body.  Many focus on trials and problems, evangelism, the church or the afterlife.  Those that do focus on the physical body usually seem to focus on dieting and weight loss.  How often do we truly stop and consider how our bodies relate to our faith?

Matt’s chapters cover topics such as his understanding of why our bodies are significant, tattoos, sexuality, and death, as well as taking a look at the importance of the body of Christ.  Going into this book I was a bit wary, especially when I saw a whole chapter about tattoos.    Are tattoos even considered as much of an issue, especially now that all the “exciting” conversion stories them?  Instead of hearing the old rhetoric about tattoos, Matt looked even deeper into the issue, looking at the individualistic nature (or in some cases the non-individualistic nature) of the American culture.  He also breaks down the common pro and con arguments for tattoos and explains the fallacies of both sides.


Here’s a short exert:

“So the promise of individuality that tattoos offer may be a false one.  In one sense, evangelicals are simply doing what everyone else in the world is doing—consuming the culture around them, which has decided to package its wares under the guise of ‘individuality’ and ‘freedom.’  You might get Tweetie bird, while I get Roadrunner.  But we’re both getting tattoos rather than writing poems because the world currently ignores poets but counts celebrity tats.” – pg 112

Other chapters do not consistently share the same type of insight, though all tended to be much more interesting and thought provoking than I imagined.  Some chapters are sure to make some people jumpy or angry (mainly the chapter on homosexuality), but I felt that Matt handled it well.    He frequently quotes other Christian writers or major Christian thinkers, either to elaborate on their observations or to offer his dissent.

While not an exegetical, this book wouldn’t be my first choice for a casual read.  But if it’s a topic you’re interested in, it might be worth a try.  Some of the ideas may not be 100% fresh, some may be new to you, but what I enjoyed about Earthen Vessels is that I felt I could engage with Matt’s thoughts.  Fresh thoughts can be worthless if they’re not engaging at some level, and familiar thoughts can still be relevant if they encourage interaction.

3.5 Stars

I received this book free from Bethany House Publisher.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

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