Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Book Review: Earthen Vessels by Matthew Lee Anderson

What do tattoos, cremation, and homosexuality all have in common?* They each reveal one's fundamental belief about the body, it's design and purpose. While Christians should arguably have a higher view of the body than most, the average evangelical theology of the body often remains unexamined and merely reactionary towards cultural trends and spiritual concerns.

Matthew Lee Anderson challenges the unexamined and reactionary in his surprising new book Earthen Vessels. Not knowing what to expect of the latest blogger-turned-author (an ever growing breed) in his debut work, I found myself tearing through this book in a matter of days. How interesting can a Christian's book about the body be? As it turns out, very.

As already hinted at, Anderson artfully covers a spectrum of modern day implications for a deeper understanding of the human form. As one who resisted against all odds, I found the chapter on tattoos particularly interesting (definition of irony: in pursuit of individualism, rebellion, and self-expression, tattoos and their host bodies are now markers of conformity and consumerism). Homosexuality too got its own chapter, and the insights here alone make the book worthwhile:

...as long as those with same-sex orientations treat the fulfillment of their sexual desires as a necessary part of their identity, the most sensitive traditional responses to same-sex attraction and acts will inevitably be reduced to bigotry. (p. 146)
All in all, Earthen Vessels is solid and enjoyable, and Anderson has made a definite contribution to an important conversation that has long been overdue in evangelical circles. Two thumbs up!

*I tried to come up with a punch line for this question but never succeeded. If you have any zingers, I'm all ears!

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Recommended for: Theologians, pastors, counselors

This book was a free review copy provided by Bethany House.

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