- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: Intervarsity Press; 1 edition (March 12 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0830844430
- ISBN-13: 978-0830844432
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 17.8 cm
- Shipping Weight: 318 g
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #63,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Strong And Weak Hardcover – Mar 12 2016
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"This book is going to have a profound impact on our world. It's built on a clear, deep, life-changing insight that opens up vast possibilities for human flourishing. Classic, elegant and utterly illuminating."--John Ortberg, senior pastor, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, author of Soul Keeping
"Andy Crouch has done it again! Strong and Weak is an intellectually insightful, socially relevant and prophetically passionate book that shows us how to multiply our power to create a world where people from every tribe and nation can flourish and reach their full God-given potential. I love it!"--Brenda Salter McNeil, Seattle Pacific University, author of Roadmap to Reconciliation
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That being said, even after a careful re-reading the book, I have not been able to shake the feeling that the author's attempt to force what he has to say into into a 2 x 2 grid with dimensions of "authority" and "vulnerability" unconvincing and often unhelpful. I am uneasy in saying this, since it seems to differ with the many editorial reviewers who have much greater authority and experience on the subject than I, not to mention the dozens of customers who describe the book in thoroughly superlative terms (on amazon.com -- Canadians reviewing on amazon.ca are, as usual, much more reserved!). This obviously puts me in a situation of some vulnerability! However, I think the 2 x 2 grid based on "authority" and/or "vulnerability" only works here because the author uses both words to mean a variety of quite different things in different situations. Authority is sometimes something conferred on a person, sometimes something a person attempts to exercise on their own. Vulnerability is sometimes something a person confers on those around, sometimes something imposed by those around, sometimes a burden and sometimes transparency. So, in describing the four quadrants of the grid as the characteristics of flourishing (conferred authority and transparent vulnerability are good), suffering (imposed vulnerability as oppression without conferred authority is bad), withdrawing (exercising more authority and vulnerability as transparency would be good), and exploiting (exercising authority is bad without accepted vulnerability) illustrates to me how awkward the words "authority" and "vulnerability" by themselves are in general here. The grid illustration may give the false implication that the way to fix our lack of flourishing is to make an effort to get/give up authority, display/eliminate vulnerability in some appropriate ratio, when in fact (as Crouch's stories often powerfully illustrate), the real answer is as stated above, to live in intentional response to Christ's leading (instead of following our own desires) and relying on His strength (rather than trying to cope on our own) in every situation we find ourselves.
I had the greatest difficulty dealing with chapter 6 ("Hidden Vulnerability") which comes close to counseling the very superficiality that so much of the rest of the book speaks against by equivocating on vulnerability as a burden and vulnerability as transparency.
This is a different sort of quibble. The book has endnotes, but they are not referenced in the text of the book itself on my kindle, but rather each endnote is labeled by the phrase and page number to which it refers. This style of endnote is not too troublesome in paper editions of a book, but very problematic in an ebook where page numbers are ambiguous and flipping between locations more difficult, I find. Crouch's arguments may be clearer if one is able to easily coordinate endnote material with the text as you read.
All that being said, this book is worth reading, because whether you find Crouch's authority/vulnerability grid helpful or not, the illustrations he relates are very thought provoking illustrations of the flourishing Christian life. I've given this book a rating of five stars because it did what a five-star book should do -- it engaged me to the extent that I've already read the book right through twice and some sections many times, and made me think much more deeply than I have in a long time about what it means to flourish as a Christian (and will continue to do so, because I'm still bugged by how different my reaction to the book is from so many of the rest of you out there -- what am I missing? -- and the book also reminded me how easy it is to slide into complacency as a believer in the developed world), and that is the best we can get from a book.
How to recognize where our strengths and weaknesses are when it comes to our authority and vulnerability. Achieving balance is possible through authentic living, healthy introspection, and a genuine love for those around us.
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