Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Way We Work by Dan Boone

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book for the purpose of review. My integrity is not for sale. Those who know me well are aware I would relish the chance to give a bad review in exchange for a free book. If I've failed to do so, it has nothing to do with the source of the material and only with the material itself.

Dan Boone's new book, The Way We Work, opens with some deep, challenging, and radical chapters on work, its place in our society, the history of our approach to work, and, of course, the theology of work. They're really important chapters, which ask a lot of deep and difficult questions.

From there, though, the bulk of the rest of the book is mostly about practical ways a Christian theology can and should affect a person's approach to the workplace. There's a much stronger, not to much self-help vibe, but a definite, "here are some easy steps to get more out of life" feel. Not that this isn't important and useful, simply that it doesn't quite pay off as rewardingly as the opening chapters might belie.

I probably should have expected this, though, given that the subtitle is "How Faith Makes a Difference on the Job." There really is some good stuff there, it's just not really new stuff and not what I'd term exciting. There are a lot of block quotes, with the typical indented formatting, however, there also appears to be a lot of places where the indenting pops up for what should be normally lined text - that can be quite confusing to readers and difficult to follow.

I had a preaching class with Dan Boone one time. He is truly one of the great preachers I've ever had the privilege to hear and be around. His books read a lot like sermons; Boone is a master of the casual narrative. They pop up frequently here. There are also chapters with many other styles and themes, some adapted from other books of his.

During that preaching course, one of the most important and most frequent critiques he gave us was that our sermons contained too many moves. A move is a thought or idea - a section of the sermon meant to communicate something specific. You can have an abundance of wonderful moves, but too many of them becomes distracting and takes away from the overall message.

If there's one thing I could say to sum up my impressions of the book it's simply that there are too many moves. The topic is important. The content is great, but there's just so much of it and with so much variety - a very broad brush without real detail in any one area. It's a good book, but probably not quite where it could be at its best. (Which is also, incidently, I think, what Dr. Boone said about my sermon in class - I hope there's no subconscious bias on my part.)

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