Monday, January 04, 2010

A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper - An audio book review

I am reviewing books for A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper is the first book I am reviewing for them. Since there is nothing I like better than reading or listening to audio books this is a joy for me to here goes:

As I began to listen to A Sweet and Bitter Providence by John Piper, I thought my familiarity with the story of Ruth combined with the pedantic narration was going to put me to sleep before I could get through the five relatively short tracks. Piper’s continued use of scripture and the complete reading of the book of Ruth is paradoxically both reassuring and at the same time a bit dull. In continually referring back to the scriptural text Piper suggests he respects the truth of God’s Word-I like that. At the same time, however, it becomes a bit tedious for one familiar with the scriptures. Listening to the book as an audio track took away my ability as a speed reader to skim through sections that were readings of overly familiar text. Instead I had to wait to hear the portions of Piper’s book that redeem the time spent experiencing his perspective and insight. Piper spends a lot of time familiarizing us with Ruth and waits almost to the end of his exploration to make the experience relevant. I wish he had reversed the process. Late in the book he writes:
“One of the great diseases of our day is trifling. The things with which most people spend most of their time are trivial. And what makes this a disease is that we were meant to live for magnificent causes. None of us is really content with the trivial pursuits of the world our souls will not be satisfied with trifles. Why is there a whole section of the newspaper devoted to sports and almost nothing devoted to the greatest story in the universe, the growth and spread of the church of Jesus Christ? It is madness that our insignificant games should occupy such a central role in our culture compared to the work of God in Christ. It is one of the many signs that we are enslaved to trivialities. We live in the Swiss village but stare at the wooden figurines in the window rather than lifting our eyes to the everlasting snows. We live in a perpetual and hopeless struggle to satisfy our longings on trifles. So our souls shrivel, our lives become trivial, and our capacity for magnificent causes and great worship dies. “
Had the following paragraph been placed near the beginning of the book I would have been instantly drawn in and would have hardly noticed the portions of the book that were more expository. I give this audio book a 3 out of 5 points. Piper’s final conclusions are motivation for living a holy and eternally mindful life. These are worthwhile lessons for our jaded and trivialized society!