“We have a favorite saying at Shalom: Good people don’t go to heaven, believers go to heaven.”
Before I get all nasty on Come of Age: The Road to Spiritual Maturity, which is likely the worst book I’ve ever read, let me make one thing clear: I am not the intended audience for this book. I am not a believer, which the author makes very clear means I will go straight to hell, without question. Not because God is sending me there. No, God does not condemn you to hell – he just convicts you! It’s that big bad devil who actually condemns you to hell! I think perhaps God and Harry Truman need to have a little chat about personal responsibility.
Now, just because I’m not a believer does not mean that I went in to this book with a closed mind. I’ve received two other religious books from publishers this year, both of which I really enjoyed. You can read those reviews here and here. Additionally, this seems like as good a time as any to let you know that this is a paid review. The FTC requires me to disclose that fact so you can decide for yourself if I lack the integrity necessary to be honest despite receiving a few bucks from a publisher. For some reason I don’t think that will be in question with this review.
This book was problematic for dozens of reasons, but most of them fall under the umbrella of Mr. Buchan just being a vile human being. The other religious books I read this year appealed to me because they were written for a broader audience and because they focused on faith being a positive and uplifting force in the lives of believers. In short, those books and I agreed on one thing: faith should bring you comfort.
Angus, on the other hand, is of the opinion that ‘spiritual maturity’ means just judging everyone around you. He believes that Health Ledger died as a result of three things:
- Having a child out of wedlock.
- Having “simulated gay sex” in Brokeback Mountain.
- “Channeling evil” in preparation for his role as the Joker.
He believes that Mike Tyson was a victim of ‘un-Christlike people’ and goes on a several page rant on the tragedy of Tyson’s fall from grace. What’s particularly funny about these passages is the fact that he makes a lot of assumptions and guestimations – many of which are about things that are easily verifiable, such as Tyson’s boxing record or Tyson’s age when he became the world heavywight champion.
“The perfect example of that was a talented young man by the name of Mike Tyson. He let people come in and take his dream, his vision, his revelation and literally trash it – and him . . . He was taken to some boxing promoters, who put him in a boxing ring with an up-and-coming professional boxer. . . They saw his potential. An Italian-American senior gentleman took Mike under his wing, not only as a potential boxer, but as a son. I think he even grew up in his home.
This youngster was amazing. By the age of nineteen, he had had something like twenty-three first-class boxing tournaments . . .
Then tragedy hit. The old trainer got cancer and died. . . I don’t think he was even twenty years old when he became the world heavyweight champion. That’s when the scavengers of this world moved in and took him over. . . He ended up biting off part of a boxer’s ear, he started getting beaten, which was unheard of before that, and then some woman accused him of taking advantage of her and he ended up in jail. . . ”
What’s not funny is Mr. Buchan’s choice of words. “Some woman accused him of taking advantage of her.” Really? Tyson is a convicted rapist who has admitted under oath that he’s physically assaulted several women. I do not appreciate Angus’s total trivialization of a rape case.
I do not appreciate his passive language, “he ended up in jail.” He didn’t just ‘end up there’. He didn’t lose his map or have a faulty compass or sleep through his bus stop. He brutally raped a woman. He was convicted by a jury of his peers and was rightly sentenced to prison.
I do not appreciate him just tacking the rape case on at the end of his list of tragedies that have befallen Tyson. It is incorrect chronologically (he was a known rapist before he was a known biter) and it just altogether makes me feel sick.
Though, perhaps Angus can help me out with my nausea, because you see, he can heal people! Mostly though he uses these powers only to heal himself. One of my favorite (tall) tales is the one where he had two back-to-back heart attacks in the middle of a weekend conference, was airlifted to the nearest hospital and not expected to live, but somehow, through his fans fervent prayers and the Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ His Personal Saviour, he was completely healed and back to preaching at the conference within 12 hours.
He also has the uncanny ability to make strangers walk up to him and just start weeping. This happened at least 10 times in the book.
“A lady was standing next to me while I was talking to that young jockey. She smiled. I was able to greet her while the bus was driving us to the plane and I slipped her a little card that we have printed out, wishing her well. She broke down and started weeping. One of my armour-bearers, my song Dougal, asked her if she was okay. She replied that she was; she was just overwhelmed by the love of God in that bus. It was one of the greatest days I’ve had in my life.”
“One man came up to me and actually started weeping. His friend’s life was completely changed at the last Mighty Men Conference.”
Angus makes it clear that if he had his way, all believers in God would walk up to strangers on the street and constantly announce their love for the Lord.
“Please do not waste time. Go and tell them about your blessed Saviour.”
His powers don’t end at causing people or the clouds to weep though. Total strangers frequently approach him after a sermon and ask him to preform a wedding for them, right there on the spot. And when I say frequently, I mean that he claims that in one particular 2 day period he wed 7 couples who spontaneously decided to get married. He is really super excited about this because it’s somehow a testament to the Lord and “What an example to all the other young folk!”
Yes, great example! Why don’t you just rush into marriage because you were moved by the Spirit, and not because you are committed to one another and have carefully considered the personal, financial and legal ramifications of promising forever to someone. He knew absolutely nothing about these couples before he performed their marriage ceremonies and yet he says he’s positive that their marriages will last forever. I guess the bible told him so.
Not surprisingly, his opinion of women is problematic, to say the least. He believes that men should provide and that women should sit around, looking pretty and raising children. He believes they should be subservient to their men.
“We met old people, young people, part-time farmers, full-time farmers, big farmers, small farmers, women farmers…. It was amazing.”
I love that passage because it teaches me that apparently women cannot be old, young, part-time, full-time, big or small – they are just women!
The only thing Angus and I agree on is that it’s disgusting to have hideously wealthy people while others starve to death. He believes that any man who leaves the earth with a significant amount of money in his bank account has committed a sin. He believes that there is much good that could have been done with that money.
Sadly, his record on other social issues is a bit… different. Let’s take a look at how he thinks we should treat ‘simple’ people:
“You’ll find no mental asylums in those rural areas. If there’s a man or woman who’s simple and has the mind of a child, that person will just wander from village to village and sleep in anybody’s house. They’ll be given food to eat and clothes to wear. I’m sure that’s the way it was meant to be.”
What a great plan! Let’s just let ‘simple’ people wander the streets and enter into the homes of any old neighbor they choose. I’m sure those ‘simple’ people will never be abused or taken advantage of by the complete strangers they’re staying with. I’m also pretty sure the options aren’t limited to A) Let ‘simple’ people wander the streets or B) Lock them up in a mental asylum.
In case anyone is still considering reading this book, I will leave you with a piece of advice from Angus that I do agree with, though it is a bit ironic coming from him.
“Don’t listen to man. Listen to God.”