Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

Book Review by Zinta Aistars

  • Hardcover: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (October 1, 2002)
  • Price: $19.99
  • ISBN-10: 0310205719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310205715

I bypassed this book for a long time, naturally resistant to anything that smacks of "fad," however well-intentioned. My thinking tends to be that anything with such mass appeal tends to be watered down in order to appeal to the greatest number. Then again, Christianity and its manual for life, the Bible, have had more mass appeal than just about anything one could name in human history. And so, at last, I made this book a part of my personal spiritual journey and exploration.

Rick Warren, a pastor and Christian writer, has organized his book into six parts, each into short sections numbering 40, meant to be read one section per day. That is how I read it. Makes sense, because each section is just enough to offer a daily meditation that, if rushed, would fail to properly be "tried on for size" in daily life. Warren's purpose in this book is, after all, to transform the reader's life - via a point-by-point analysis of understanding of why we are here, living beings on earth, in a life that often seems painfully meaningless and chaotic. If there is one main underlying purpose to remember, then, it is that we are not here for our own individual purposes, but for the purpose of serving God. All else if off the mark.

Warren's writing style is clear and easy to read in layman's terms. He uses many different biblical translations to bolster his point, and he chooses well. Each of the 40 days ends with a "point to ponder," a "verse to remember," and, finally, a "question to consider," that urges the reader to apply what has just been read to practical, everyday living. His topics addressed range from understanding worship and its purpose, cultivating relationships and community, transformation through truth and temptation (resisting it, suffering from it, being brought down by it), restoring our broken fellowships, being servants not only to God but to each other, finding balance, respecting our commitments, even learning acceptance of the shape and form of the physical bodies God has given us to inhabit. He covers pretty much everything.

Was I transformed by reading this book? Perhaps not entirely. Although something in me is surely transformed to some degree by all that I take in and consider, all that I give out to others, even in the writing of such a review as this. Warren gave me pause to ponder, and surely I am at least a little better for it. I've read various theologians in their criticisms of this book, and it could be I simply lack the theological background to give much heed to their criticisms, but in general, I see much good in this book, and its mission of giving pause to its readers to consider the meaning of their lives - successful. If I haven't given it an entirely standing ovation, it may be that I might have wanted a few more specific and practical suggestions, but I would freely recommend it to anyone who is grappling with this age-old question of: "What on earth am I here for?" It could provide some much needed guidelines.

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