AUTHOR: Douglas LeBlanc
GENRE: Spiritual Growth & Christian Thought
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: "Stories of people who live a generous and happy life (and why you'll want to live that way too.) Journalist Douglas LeBlanc travels the nation to talk with believers whose lives have been enriched by the ancient spiritual discipline of tithing. He discovers people along the way who do not understand the practice as an onerous law but as God’s call to a life of generosity and compassion. The effect on their lives is dramatic. LeBlanc talks with a variety of believers—from a pastor in the south side of Chicago to progressive Episcopalians, from an Orthodox rabbi to an Eastern Orthodox priest and his wife. By holding their gifts with open hands, they are drawn deeper into a life of joy and sharing that begins in the very heart of God. A volume in the eight book classic series, The Ancient Practices, with a foreword by Phyllis Tickle, General Editor."
I hate doing negative reviews but I believe a review isn't worth anything if it's not honest so: I was hoping that somewhere in this book it would talk about the history of tithing in depth. How and why it started. How it became such a taboo in our culture. I was hoping for all this in addition to real life examples of people who have been blessed by tithing. But all I found were the stories. And they were disorganized, difficult to read. Sometimes hearing the story in the person's own words loses something when it's put into print. Especially if the author interrupts the story with back story and other relevant and irrelevant factoids at certain points during the telling. I found myself having to read that last sentence or paragraph that I just read over and over again until I finally got it. Add to that the increased confusion of an ordinary Christian with Baptist and Mennonite background trying to comprehend Episcopal terminology, and it was a very difficult read. Some chapters I re-read as many as 4 times trying to follow them but my mind kept wandering and just wouldn't seem to track the story.
Not all the stories were difficult to track though. Some were just plain creepy. Like the doctrine of the interviewee is scewed and contrary to scripture and they are preaching it like it's gospel and reading that just gave me the shivers. One or 2 of the stories toward the end were actually interesting enough for me to stay focused and get something out of. All in all it was not an impressive read. I kept waiting for a final chapter to touch on those pesky historical and cultural questions I opened with, but none was forthcoming. I think the answers to some may have been scattered throughout the book but the lack of fluidity and understandability confounded any ability I may have had to mentally tie them together into a complete thought.
Cons: This book was very hard to focus on, difficult to understand, hopping around, breaking up, and scattered. Difficult to get anything out of except an irritation over the time I spent trying to get into it and failing miserably.
Pros: A couple of the people interviewed had some good things to say about tithing and our current culture.
Bottom line? I'd give it 1 out of 5. I wouldn't read it again, I wouldn't recommend it to others, but I may flip through it and read the few good quotes again. Reading it felt like hiking up a mountain to see the view, it turns out to be a difficult climb rather than a hike, and when you finally get to the top, there is no view at all.
*This book was reviewed for Thomas Nelson's BookSneeze blogger review program. I received a free copy of this book for review purposes. No other compensation was received. My opinions are my own and have not been edited or influenced by the publisher in any way.