Saturday, December 22, 2012

Book Review: "The God of the Mundane" by Matthew B. Redmond

The God Of The MundaneThe God Of The Mundane by Matt B. Redmond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the last chapter of this book the author, Matthew Redmond, points out, "This little book is not a call to do nothing. It is a call to be faithful right where you are, regardless of how mundane that place is."

It's a theme you can find elsewhere in classic Christian literature; the two works that came to mind again and again as I read were Brother Lawrence's "The Practice of the Presence of God" and Milton's powerful sonnet "On His Blindness". As Milton said, "God doth not need either man's works, or his own gifts. Who best bear his mild yoke, they serve him best."

In "The God of the Mundane", Redmond takes up that theme for a contemporary audience, asking if there's a God for the mother who's not changing the world, but only changing diapers. Or for the father who toils day after day in a job he dislikes because he loves his family and wants to support them.

Redmond's answer is that, yes, God is still God to those who live ordinary lives. And God finds us while we're doing our ordinary duties. Redmond even maintains that doing those ordinary duties is a way of "pushing back against the Fall". Feeding, clothing, and caring for our fellow humans is doing what we were created to do and a part of fixing the things that are broken in our world (he points out that the first job Man had was as a gardener).

I came away with the clear message that I ought not to feel guilty for not following a calling that was never mine in the first place, but ought instead to set my mind and heart to serving God in my current circumstances, the circumstances that He Himself gave me.

And I agree, but I do wonder if this would be a dangerous book for someone who was called to an un-ordinary, radical field of ministry - for the Jonah who was trying to run away. Occasionally, I also wonder if Redmond waxed a little too poetic about the ordinary - what is the role in the Christian life for those with the desire to do great and beautiful things to the glory of God?

But I never came away from this book with the feeling that Redmond wouldn't be able to handle those questions and quibbles. In fact, this book feels more like the start of a conversation than anything else; I want Redmond to write a sequel, dealing with all of the fascinating ideas he so successfully raised!

In the end, this is a heartening book. It's easy to read because the quality of the writing is so high, but also because the ideas are so interesting, and the kindness and intelligence of the author lights up every page. Recommended.

(This book was an Advance Review Copies (ARCs) sent by the publisher — common practice in the industry. No payment was accepted in exchange for a review or mention, and the reviewer was in no way obligated to review the book favorably.)

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a theme of Middlemarch as well?