This book was a lovely gift from my dear friend Shiqi who read it and thought that I might appreciate it too. And I really do! (Advice to friends: Please, please, please do not gift me books you've not read yourself. Only get me books you've truly enjoyed yourself. Thank you.)
Back to the review. This book is a collection of articles Yancey wrote for Christianity Today a decade or two ago and I'm pleasantly surprised to find it still very relevant today.
There are 6 parts as he's organised all the articles into certain themes - they are namely:
Part I: The Human Animal
Part II: In the World
Part III: Among the Believers
Part IV: Necessary Voices
Part V: Life with God
Part VI: Another World
I particularly enjoyed the first and fourth parts because they dealt with issues pertaining to daily life and notable writers of faith respectively.
"A theology of dirty jokes" was my favourite article from the first part of the book because it rightly questions why we find talking about excretion and reproduction, functions we share with all other animals, somehow so strange. In the author's own words, "Try to envision a horse or a cow bashful about the need to excrete in public. Or imagine a dog or cat with sexual hangups, reluctant to mate."
Hahaha. It's got a lovely conclusion, this article, one I'll leave you to discover.
This book is an easy read with each article only lasting 3-5 pages and one can pick up the book anytime while commuting and read a chapter or two, not fearing that you'd have to stop at a cliffhanger when you arrive at your destination (I seriously hate that).
A brilliant writer, Yancey is both humorous and insightful, making this one of the rare books on Christianity that is so.
An interesting feature of this book would be how the author opens each chapter by asking a series of intriguing questions. He elaborated in the introduction that one of the article that generated loads of reader responses was one consisting entirely of questions sans answers.
And here, I'll leave you with some...
Why are there so many kinds of animals? Couldn't the world get along with, say 300,000 species of beetles instead of 500,000? What good are they?
Why is it that the most beautiful animals on earth are hidden away from all humans except those wearing elaborate SCUBA equipment? Who are they beautiful for?
Why is almost all religious art realistic, whereas much of God's creation - zebra, swallowtail butterfly, crystalline structure - excels at abstract design?
Why are there dirty jokes? What makes the physiology of excretion and reproduction so funny anyhow?
As Walker Percy asks, "Why does man feel so sad in the twentieth century? Why does man feel so bad in the very age when, more than in any other age, he has succeeded in satisfying his needs and making over the world for his own use?"
Do gorillas and aardvarks go through a mid-life crisis?