20.9.10

"Nudge" By Leonard Sweet



Leonard Sweet, Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who's Already There. David C. Cook, 2010. 329 pgs. 

Disclosure: This book was provided, for me to review, by The Ooze. Thanks a bunch!

This is a book about evangelism.  As a book about evangelism, the subtitle kind of says it all.  Sweet argues for an approach that centers on the idea that God is already there and, because of this, people just need to be nudged into awareness.  As a result, this book is also about much more than evangelism.  Running through it are Sweet's own nudges to the reader to herself become more aware of the God who is already there.  With his typical fast paced mix of pop-culture, ancient wisdom, and interesting metaphor Sweet takes the reader on a journey through the senses.  Part 1 of his book explains the idea of nudge, focusing on paying attention, watching, witnessing, and bearing witness.  He then introduces what will be the focus of part 2, the 5 senses.  In his own words, "it is the thesis of Nudge that the evangelists constantly scan the environment (religious, cultural, economic) for evidences of divine activity." This he sets out to do, to teach us how to do, and to encourage us to actually get out and do.  

This is an amazing book.  Yes, it has problems.  Sweet definitely has to stretch things at some points in order to fit them into his model.  His condemnation of the more ascetic parts of Christian spirituality is shallow and, at times, spurious.  Personally, Sweet's style/method is too much for me at times.  It took me much longer to read this book than it would for another book of similar size, because Sweet jumps around like a hyperactive squirrel on an energy drink. Not only that, some of this thoughts seem to be squeezed in there because they are `good` but they don`t actually relate well to his point.  I know the feeling.  I hear a good joke, and I so badly want to push it into a sermon, but it rarely works. 

However, by and large, this book is filled with though provoking material, well written, and designed to move the reader to see God.  I think that is some of the highest praise I can give a book: that it pushes the reader to see God.  Although, not only see, but taste, touch, hear, and smell as well.  

One part I want to share was Sweet`s thoughts on boredom.  It comes in a section called ``The Problem Is Not With Life.` He talks about his kids getting bored, and says: ``Life is full of wonderful, exciting, and adventurous things. My kids don`t have life fatigue.  The problem is not with life.  The problem is with them.`` (46-47) He goes on to argue that the real problem is that we disconnect, we enter a state of semiotic breakdown, and we become unable to read the `signs`around us which point to life.  We are no longer able to see the signs of God moving around us, the signs of what is possible, what we could do and be.  Thus, we are bored.  

Conclusion: 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Recommended. The style grates (maybe not for you though?), but the content makes up for it.  This is a worthy read for any Christian, either to become more aware of the God who is already there, or to help others do the same.  


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