I’m reading a book right now called With by Skye Jethani. It has to do with how we live our lives in relation to God. I really like it and think he is mostly dead-on. But I got to wondering how little I know about the guy who is writing these things. So, I got on his website and read his bio. Ok. But I don’t really know him. How does he actually live his life in relation to what he is writing? Does it work in his life? How does he eat breakfast, treat his family, counsel people in hardship? Can I see it rather than read what he tells me?
Reading an author isn’t enough for me anymore. Alot of times I want to ask him or her a question about what I”m reading. I want to live with the author, follow him around, and see how he lives his life, if he practices what he preaches.
In Academia, we know the rule that you always interact with the person’s ideas, not attack the person. To say, “well, Professor A’s idea, X, is bad because Professor A is a jerk and treats his students unkindly” is the logical fallacy Ad Hominem, against the man. You keep the private life separate from the ideas your discussing.
But while this is the academic rule that must be followed in any discourse, we cannot totally divorce the whole person from his ideas. Our lives run on ideas. If we behave badly, there is some bad thinking in their somewhere. And when an author is telling you in his book how to live your life, the question of how he lives his own life becomes all the more important. There are too many manipulators and predators out just to make a buck. I’m skeptical. I’m looking for authentic books written by authentic people.
After I read Michael Eaton’s book No Condemnation, which is now among the best books I’ve read, I began really thinking of how I could get to Kenya and help in his church. What a thought! Being the assistant of a such an authentic thinker/pastor/theologian and following him around. Yeah, I’m crazy, but don’t tell me you don’t have crazy wishes too!
That said, I admit you can learn quite a bit about a person from reading their books, especially books on life. From reading Skye’s book, I think he really believes, lives, and thinks about what he is advocating. That said, I do wish I could hang out with him for a while. If, by some chain of unlikely events, I become an author, I would want to do just that – have interns, assistants, or whatever and incorporate them into my life. People to help me at work, live in my home, eat my dinner, and be mentored. But like I said, I’m just another guy with crazy wishes.