Book Review with Give-Away

Mark Batterson, a D.C. pastor, has written his second book, entitled "Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God". I was initially reticent to review this, because I thought it was going to be some revision of "Wild at Heart", a book I was thankful for, since it seemed to positively influence many people, but did nothing for me, presumably because I never really felt as though my faith had been emasculated.

Having finished the book, I'm glad I didn't work on that assumption, since the truth is otherwise. This is a book about following God. That's right, big and broad, just like that. I realize that's about as specific as saying 'This is about life,' but I think it's accurate. And healthy, as well, since all of us need times to step back from details and look at the big picture, the broad strokes of where we are and where we're going in our lives. The title takes it's name from a Celtic name of the Holy Spirit, which means "the wild goose", and so Batterson's bent is to constantly remind us that God is not tame, nor is the life he calls his followers to. His style is incredibly conversational and easy to follow, and each chapter ends with thoughtful discussion questions.

Two things he does particularly well:

1. Obscure bible stories. Even after years of reading the bible, Batterson can reference a story that seems completely unfamiliar. Case in point, the title story from his first book "In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day" (yes, that's in the bible). I also got the privilege of learning about Hezekiah's steward and the key of David, as well as the time when only Saul and Jonathan had swords amongst all the Israelites.

2. Getting inside the biblical story. I wouldn't go as far as putting him in the Buechner/Rich Mullins category on this one, but in that same direction, at least. One example: He discusses how the Israelites were constantly building altars in various places, to remind them of God's work in that point in space. He then takes it further and wonders whether Paul ever returned to the Damascus Road, or David revisited the battleground of his fight with Goliath, or Peter ever rowed out silently on the Sea of Galilee where he briefly walked on water. This kind of creative thinking brings a refreshing light to often told truths.

A word of caution: This guy loves aphorisms. He even finishes the book with about twenty straight bumper-sticker phrases. Good phrases, but ultra-condensed nonetheless. If you want a long, sequential line of thought, don't look for it here. Rather, Batterson is constantly coining phrases, which is not everyone's style, but does make it easy to remember his points.

Overall, a fine book for personal reading, and likely quite useful for a group setting as well.
By the way, I have an extra copy that I can mail to the first one that requests it.