Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The Divine Commodity - A Review
It almost feels weird reviewing a book on the commodification of spirituality (as if I am treating it like some kind of consumer product). Perhaps this very feeling is what makes a book like this so difficult.
I love the way Jethani takes illustrations from the spiritual life and art of Vincent Van Gogh and uses it to help point the reader in a more vibrant and spiritually rich direction that seeks to bypass the rampant consumerism of our age. Yet as clever and impacting (and creative) his idea for this book was, it seems like a hard premise to base an entire book around. It kind of reminds me of a great Saturday Night Live skit that is then turned into a movie and inevitably lacks the punch to sustain a feature length film.
While the first few chapters were indeed intriguing and convicting the argument of consumerism got a bit tired. I couldn't help but get a feeling of how cynical Jethani was sounding as the book progressed. In fact had it not been for the epilogue section, I would have been left with that feeling. Skye Jethani does conclude the book with a few pages on how he sees this rampant consumerism in his own heart and how he hates in others what he despises in himself. That said, the statement came too late in the book for me and almost seemed like a recommendation from the publisher to soften the blow a bit from his railing against the problems of consumerism in the church (perhaps this is my own cynicism rearing its head).
While I certainly agree with his thesis that the church is way too mired in consumerism to truly be a light to the world, I found his approach to this problem not very constructive in the end which is a shame because the premise of this book is very creative.