Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Are you buying it?

As we waited in various airports over the past few weeks, I spent a lot of time perusing book tables. Despite my seeming addiction to literature, I was feeling rather illiterate. Years ago, I would have been familiar with just about any title available at the airport. Surprisingly, I was hard pressed to find anything I recognized, save the names of a few select authors.

I particularly noted the number of memoirs that were displayed. Over the past two years I have been reading a great number of memoirs, but I thought this was a personal preference thing; I did not realize that it was a new trend. The memoirs that I read are (most often) written by Christians, and they are steeped with the redemptive power of Jesus. The memoirs that I picked up in the airport bookstores were starkly different.

While the endorsements proclaimed certain works to be "bravely self-revealing," I found the parts that I skimmed to be tragically disturbing. What good is authenticity if it fails to point us to our desperate need for a Savior? How can people come to terms with their own depravity and be satisfied? Or worse, pleased? And why would any reader wish to read disgusting self-disclosures when redemption never comes?

I suppose this is reality-television for the avid reader, but I am as turned-off by it as I am by shows like The Bachelor. The sad thing is, these works would not be so prevalent if they were not popular. People are buying this stuff. Reading it. Watching it. Giving it room in their lives and access to their souls. I am shocked, not so much by the sin that is exposed; but rather, by the fascination that we, as a culture, have with it. At the glorification that we give to it. At the prominence that we accord it.

Oh Jesus, I thank you for dying on the cross for all that is wretched and unholy! I thank you because your grace makes salvation possible. I thank you because you can redeem anything. Won't you free us from a morbid obsession with our own depravity and make us hungry for your holiness?

p.s. If you are looking for a good memoir, may I suggest Surprised by Oxford, by Carolyn Weber; Digging Ditches, by Helen Roseveare; or The Holocaust Diaries, by Nonna Bannister? In these rich stories, fallen people are called out of darkness and discover what it means to live in the light.

Have you read a good memoir? Tell me about it!


  1. Interesting you could see the contrast from one vistit to the next. Those of us in the states are so lulled asleep by the drum beat of "what is trending" that we are comotose. Thank you for the excellent shake up, Jenn.

  2. It is so easy to be swept away by the culture in which we live. We have to constantly swim against the current!

  3. I'm not buying it and I agree living back in the US is a constant swimming against the current. But also think if I were more immersed in the German culture I would have been swimming upstream there too, so maybe the accurate comment is living here on Earth is a constant up stream battle. I love a good memoir, tall of these are on my list.

  4. SO true! We always tell our boys that if they are not intentionally swimming against the current of the culture around them, it is highly likely that they are being swept away by it.