Thursday, August 22, 2013

Book Review: Gray Matters - Brett McCracken will be a controversial book, to say the least. I agree with the premise. All of life should be lived to the glory of God. Things should never be divided into sacred and secular. God is Lord over all of life. The difficulty is in how we live this out.

I want to say up front that believe McCraken is an honest Christian who truly loves God and is seeking to transform culture with the Gospel. His desire is for those who live for Christ, to enjoy life and the things God has given us but do it with balance. I hardily agree.

He divides culture into four sections: Eating, Listening, Watching and Drinking. The writing is interesting and he pulls no punches. I think the book should be read and digested. As Christians we should think. For too long in the church, emotions have trumped facts. We react before we get all the facts. Paul dealt with it in the question of eating meats that had been sacrificed to idols. He took a balanced approach and McCracken seems to do the same.

With that said, I had disagreements with some of the little things, but isn't that what the whole book is about?

McCracken starts his book with the subject of Food. Eating - we should enjoy those things God has given us to eat. God could have made food for utilitarian purposes only. He could have made food with no taste and given us some kind of mechanism to force us to eat for physical needs only. But food is more that a a necessary evil. God has given it taste and enjoyment. It is God's common grace that makes the eating of it enjoyable.

Brett shows us how to enjoy food, but not to over indulge. His theory sounds great so far. Where I think he goes astray is the "buy fair trade" and "Whole foods" part. Much of this sounds like "Liberal speak". Make sure the chickens we eat are treated with love and respect. Don't buy from large companies (i.e. Walmart). Buy local and eat slow.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this. It just gives a feeling that normal people who buy from Walmart and McDonald's are a little lower on the food chain (pun intended). Because we can not afford a seven hour, ten course meal, we are not quite experiencing the best God has to offer.

With that said, there is much benefit from this section. He does tell the food connoisseur not to be arrogant and look down on others that can not afford expensive "Whole Foods". It still feels a little like saying to your wife  - "That dress looks beautiful on you, BUT....."

The second subject concerns Listening (music). Another controversial subject.

As a musician, this subject touches home. When I became a christian, I felt all secular music was wrong. To my defense, I came out of a lot of drugs and very dark music. After a few years, I became a little more balanced. That is the stand Brett takes. Music in itself is a gift from God and should be used for Him but that does not mean every song has to be a hymn or worship chorus.

I do not agree with everything he listens to but it is a "Gray Matter".

Another subject is watching(movies).

I enjoy action movies. Personally I try to catch them on channels that remove much of the foul language and other objectionable stuff. McCracken believes if it does not tempt you or cause you to stumble, it is fine to watch. Again, I personally believe, if at all possible watch the edited version.

The last subject is Drinking(alcohol).

This subject really gets some people mad. This was my favorite section. He takes us through a short history of fermented beverages. He then gives his take on alcohol. He ends the section with a caution to those who would take drinking too far.

In each chapter McCracken starts out bold, but then brings in the balance. I believe this is a must read for all Christians. There will be a lot of disagreement, but that is one reason why you should read it. It WILL make you think.

I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book, free of charge, from Baker Books and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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