"Every Body Matters" by Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas. Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul. Zondervan, 2011. 256 pgs. 

In Every Body Matters Gary Thomas explores some of the interactions between our bodies and our soul. More specifically, he argues that treating our body well is an important part of spiritual discipline and living well. He urges us to "stop treating our bodies like ornaments... and start treating our bodies like instruments, vessels set apart to serve the God who fashioned them. Throughout the book Thomas also explores topics from the discipline of exercise, to spiritual problems like sloth and greed.

As I started this book, I wasn't so sure what I was getting into. I have read, and appreciated, books by Gary Thomas before. That is, after all, why I decided to risk this book. However, any book about exercise and the Christian life starts out a few paces behind as it has many hurdles to avoid on the way. Hurdles like implying, or explicitly stating, that our current fashion in body-taste (what we, in our culture and our time, find attractive and appealing) is the absolute, God-honoring, standard and that anyone who does less is failing or, worse, sinning. Hurdles like dealing with health problems, real life scheduling difficulties for people with less money, time, and energy for exercising, and the fact that we are (I think) one of the few cultures who view physical exercise as a privilege and a relaxing activity, rather than one of the daily necessities and hardships of life. 

Thankfully, Thomas does a good job of leaping over these hurdles. He is very careful not to apply current cultural standards as if they were eternal. He also does an excellent job of looking at some of the deeper issues involved when it comes to physical fitness. Deeper issues such as those I mentioned above, sloth and greed. To be hones, the parts of this book which were about taking care of my body were nothing special. They weren't bad, but they weren't great. Where I found Every Body Matters to be interesting, thought provoking, and helpful was precisely when Thomas wrote about spiritual matters and, as he enters the later chapters of his book, when he writes about what it would be like to be 'the last christian in the world.' 

Conclusion: 3.5 Stars. Conditionally Recommended. I don't know how you feel about physical fitness. If you are unmotivated, or have never had any struggles taking care of yourself. Personally, it is enough to remember that all I am is a gift from God and I am called to steward that gift well. But if you need more than that, Thomas is the place to go. 

Thanks to Zondervan for providing this book, free of charge, for review purposes. 

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