I promise I’ll get back to blogging about other topics soon, but this is book release week, so I hope you’ll indulge one more Pietist Option post…
We turned in the first draft of the manuscript about eleven months ago, and Mark and I (plus various people at InterVarsity Press) have read it many times since. But it doesn’t feel like a book until someone else pulls it off a (literal or figurative) shelf and dedicates some of their scarce time and divided attention to what we have to say.
Being an author isn’t meaningful until a reader engages with the book.
Of course, that makes this week both exciting and nerve-wracking. What if we’ve completely misread our audience? What if our diagnosis of the problem and the remedy we propose don’t resonate with the lived experience of our sisters and brothers in Christ? What if it just doesn’t make sense to people encountering Pietism for the first time? (What if leaving “Pietist” in the title simply keeps people from picking it off that shelf?)
So I’m hugely gratified to read the first few reader reviews that have popped up on Amazon. All have been very positive, and for the reasons we hoped to see.
First, I’m glad that people have picked up on that fact that The Pietist Option is not a history, though it echoes a much older work and draws on historical examples from a “usable past.” As one reviewer put it: “The Pietist Option by Christopher Gehrz and Mark Pattie III has much in common with Philipp Jakob Spener’s classic work Pia Desideria. Both books are slim, readable, and packed with practical advice on church revitalization.” But he concluded, “It is more of a prophetic challenge than a history lesson. Just as in Spener’s day, today’s Christian Church would be wise to be more biblical, vocational, alive, peaceful, holistic, and full of good news.”
I was also happy to see that at least one reviewer thought we met our goal of writing a book that was Pietist in content and tone:
The content of this book and the tone of this book are in harmony and together gently call the reader to explore again and again the fundamental question of the faith and especially what it means to live for “God’s Glory and Neighbor’s Good.” I would highly recommend this book to those familiar with Pietism looking for a fresh perspective and for all those seeking better times for the church and the world.
Finally, multiple reviewers recommend it for small group discussion, which is certainly consistent with Pietist tradition. (There’s a discussion guide at the end.) “While the book is short enough to read in a weekend,” writes one reader, “it’s weighty enough to bear slow reading and reflection over several weeks, making it a great choice for a small group.”
Keep the reviews coming! Even if they’re not all five-star, it’s helpful to know what about the book has and hasn’t clicked with readers.
(Or if you want to share feedback in person, remember that we’ve got some speaking appearances coming up… starting next Tuesday evening with a book launch party in New Brighton, Minnesota.)