Speak, by popular blogger Nish Weiseth, is a book about the power of telling our own stories and hearing those of others to change hearts, build bridges, advocate for good, make disciples with grace, and proclaim Gods kingdom on Earth today.
This premise is beautiful. I believe it. I wanted to learn more about it.
But I was disappointed in the book. For me, it ran kind of hot and cold. There were three chapters that I absolutely loved. One of these even had me tearing up a bit. The other five mostly left me scratching my head, trying to understand what the words I was reading had to do with the theme of the book. There was a disconnect somewhere between the stories the author told and the message she was trying to convey.
Each chapter ended with a blog post which included some of the comments that post actually received when published on-line. These posts, all by different bloggers, were supposed to illustrate the authors point, but I found them more distracting than helpful. They contained thought-provoking reading but sent my thoughts away from the message of the book.
The final chapter of the book, however, was my favorite. In this one, the author encourages readers to faithfully live whatever life stories theyve been given. She says, Though you may be living what seems like an ordinary life, faithfully doing what God has placed in front of you to do means you are actually living an extraordinary life. I appreciated those words.
I thank Zondervan Publishers for sending me a complimentary eCopy of this book through the BookLook Blogger program in exchange for my honest review.
In her new book Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World (2014, Zondervan), Nish Weiseth encourages people to get in the habit of sharing stories with one another. On the back cover, she asks, "How would your life be different if you shared your stories rather than your opinions?"
I was drawn to this book because I believe the question she is asking is an important one. Part of what defines our humanity is that we live in relationship with others and each of us have our own unique stories. We need to get into the habit of seeking to hear one another's stories, showing curiosity about who they are, where they have come from, and where they are going.
Between the covers of the book, Weiseth suggests that we are a divided people, inside the church and outside of it, which she attributed in part to our tendency to assert viewpoints rather than hear stories. She makes the case that stories can help to soften and change our hearts in relationship with other people and that even beyond that, hearing people's stories can help to encourage us to pursue justice and kingdom purposes.
On the positive end, Weiseth is a strong writer, having honed her skills through her blogging career. Within the book, she shares some of her own stories that help to make her point about their importance. She also included stories from other bloggers and the responses they received to further demonstrate how powerful stories can be.
On the other hand, I do have concerns about the underlying message of this book. Although she did not come out and say so, I did have concerns that she was downplaying objective truth. As I read the book, I find myself wondering if she believes that when we seek to listen to one another's stories (which we agree is important), that we must said aside the reality that there is objective truth. Those navigating from a post-modern mindset are much more likely to accept relativism as a way of being. In other words, "my stories define truth for me, even though they may be different from your stories." I believe this is a mistake, and perhaps it was not her intention, but Weiseth seems to represent the growing post-modernism in the church. My view is that we share our stories with one another, but also that truth is objective and it is often discoverable, even if it is uncomfortable.
On the whole, her message about the importance of stories is one we all need to hear, but not at the expense of what Francis Schaeffer referred to as "True truth".
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.