Love Wins and the Jabez Effect
I hesitate to even write this brief diatribe as it is probably self-defeating to my central thesis.
Eleven years ago a book swept through evangelicalism like wildfire, Bruce Wilkinson’s, “The Prayer of Jabez.” You probably have two or three copies of it somewhere in your home, perhaps on your D-List portion of your bookshelf or propping up the wobbly leg of your washing machine. Multnomah Publishers love targeting easily marketable groups within evangelicalism, usually parachurch ministries, who have members that are peppered across a large cross-section of evangelicalism. At that time, I recall tons of folks reading the book within Campus Crusade for Christ and my local church at the time. The book had reached and crossed several tipping points.
I have a half-baked thesis that the reason Jabez reached those tipping points was because a large subset of those reading the book, were reading it with the primary goal of dissecting it for content. In short, when a book gets a wide read, principally for people looking to respond or react to the text rather than for the enjoyment of the book itself, I call this the Jabez Effect. Some other books perhaps fall under this category – The Shack, and The Da Vinci Code (when read by those within evangelicalism).
I think reading/writing about some of these books can be a slippery slope at times. On the one hand, they need responded to but sometimes the unintended consequence of gaining traction and publicity results. Remember the old advertising mantra, “no publicity is bad publicity.”
Hence, I will not be reading Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins.” I haven’t read any of his other books and I won’t be reading this one. Plenty of people way more thoughtful than I will weigh in on this and I just don’t have the time to read and respond to some rehashed and dumbed down Schleiermacher/Tillich. Reading such things makes me bored and angry (and yes, more angry than this diatribe).
I don’t know how to solve the potential paradox of responding/not-responding to books like this. I am not sure if I can really come up with a rubric for who needs to engage and when it is wise for them and/or myself to engage in these matters.
I wonder how many books Bell will sell on the merit of the negative reaction from the blogosphere, and neo-calvinist detractors.
(But hey, in case you do read it, make sure to click through my link so I can get my 3% or whatever from amazon)