My mom gave me a copy of The Purpose Driven Life (or TPDL as it will be referred to henceforth) This was obviously an effort to re-convert me, because if I would only open my eyes and see, how could I remain an atheist?
Its been mouldering on my bookshelf for about a year, but it caught my eye again a few days ago (when the sci-fi books from the library were all read and I was bored), and then I decided that I would read it. Of course, as per my handle, I will read it Skeptically
The book encourages you to read a chapter (a few pages) every day for 40 days. So I will try and post a review of a chapter every day for same (unless I run out of patience) But I'll try dear reader, for you I will try.
Lets start with the book itself:
The outside of the book is a textured maroon colour, with cream blocks with green text inside. Weird.
On the front it says "The #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER", "Over 15 million copies sold", and then the title, the author and the subtitle 'What am I here for'?
The introduction "A journey with a purpose", explains how the author wants you to read the book. Once a day, with a friend if possible. He also encourages you and the friend to sign the book together, to show intent to read it.
Right off the bat he shows his true colours, with the statement that 40 days is important because 40 days is a "spiritually significant" period. He mentions some examples from the bible, including the following two that raise my hackles:
1.) Noah's life was transformed by 40 days rain
2.) Spies were transformed by 40 days in the promised land
My issue with 1 is that it is patently a fairy tale. Science (or just a drop of common sense and some basic naturalistic knowledge), shows us that the flood could not possibly have happened as explained in Genesis. Already this guy looks like he could be a young earth creationist. I'm not sure, but I suspect we will revisit this chapter on future days.
My issue with 2 is that the spies were there to help bring about the genocide of entire cities. This is a good example of purpose?????
On the third page of content, he is already hawking his scripture keeper plus (tm) product. That's 1 (I'll be counting how many exhortations to buy things I find in the book)
Just after that he encourages you to buy the companion journal. That's 2
Lastly, he mentions that he used fifteen different versions of the bible in the preparations of this book. You have to go to an appendix to see his reasoning. And I quote "No matter how wonderful a translation is, it has limitations" Duh, 3000 year old stone age myths will need quite a bit of creative interpreting to seem fresh and relevant aeons later.
He also says "Obviously, nuances and shades of meaning can be missed" and "I have deliberately used paraphrases in order to help you see God's truth in new, fresh ways". There comes the re-interpreting. The message I get from this is that you can find any message that you want from the Bible. Well that much is true. It has been used to justify witch burnings, various genocides, slavery, Apartheid and all manner of repressive social practices. Interpret away!
That is the end of my review of the intro, stay tuned for more on this journey of self-discover...., I mean review.
PS. The end of the introduction says that he prayed for me while writing the book. Well, ummm, OK thanks.