Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tyger, Tyger Burning Bright--A Book Review of Yawning At Tigers: You Can't Tame God So Stop Trying

When I first read the title of this book, I was intrigued. What in the world does yawning at tigers have to do with the topic of trying to tame God? Hook. Set. Reel it in. Maybe you too are intrigued. You should be.

In Yawning At Tigers,Drew Dyck discusses several topics centered around the theme of God's holiness and love. While it is difficult to summarize this book in a paragraph, I can give you a drive-by, whistle-stop tour. 

We like taming God because it makes us feel safer and in control. At the same time, we get bored because we thrive on awe. By and large, churches in Western culture have lost this sense of awe and holiness and our worship suffers for it. Reading scripture reveals how far we've gone off the mark. Worship is a natural response to holiness. We have become obsessed with safety and security, but God is dangerous and calls us to live dangerously. But, lest we get too focused on His otherness, His hiddeness, or His dangerousness, we must also look at His nearness, tenderness, and intimacy. God is a God of Holy Love. He is the Word made flesh. We are to take our cues from God as found in Jesus Christ. [End of tour]

There are many reasons why I like this book. First, Dyck writes well and with style. I felt that he was writing about something that really mattered to him and that he had wrestled through over a period of many years. He's not trying to ride the wave of angst filled books on why Christians aren't doing a good enough job. I sense that he has read deeply and observed first-hand the issues he addresses. His end notes are littered with references and he gives numerous examples from his own travels and church life. It all comes together with clarity and authority. (Great job, Drew!)

Plus, he actually used his gifts in writing to tell stories and convey imagery rather than sending me to some website to watch a quick video. If you haven't read enough of my book reviews to know--I hate that. I'm reading a book. Don't have me go to some other site. Bloggers and website developers will tell you, that outside links can increase your "bounce rate." In other words, it pulls you out of the experience of reading. If you are planning to write a book, let my plead with you to take a lesson from Dyck or any other good writer--write, don't refer out. This ends my diatribe...Let me continue.

Secondly, this book is all of the things that Crazy Love should have been but wasn't. I'm almost reluctant to draw the comparison/contrast, but over and over again I thought, "This book is so much better than Crazy Love. It's balanced, well-written, and not confusing in its call to action." But don't misunderstand me--Dyck isn't asking to be compared or contrasted. This isn't a debate or academic exercise. It is its own thing.

Thirdly, and this is really a subset of the second point, Dyck realizes that if we have a spiritual malaise or Christian lifestyle deficiency, then it stems from our theology and lack of experiencing God. There is no brow beating in this book. His solution is to look to God and the Gospel to overcome our idols. He writes, "Too often we answer the question by looking around instead of up. We take our cues from ministry models that succeed in attracting  lots of people. Even weighing biblical passages that stress purity against ones about love can miss the point. What we need to do is look at God. I'm convinced his very nature holds the secret. The divine otherness and intimacy provides the model for how we can relate to outsiders with both conviction and love." And there's more where that came from.

In short, Yawning At Tigers is a well-written, engaging, and thoughtful book. Grab a copy, give it a read, and let me know what you think.

P.S. You can follow Drew Dyck on Twitter @drewdyck. If you found this review helpful, please leave me a comment and/or tweet me @pastornickjones.

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