The Book I Needed to Read

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This past spring, I stopped seeing human beings on Twitter.

 

I saw avatars and opinions and in my head, I collected the few things I knew about the few “profiles” I disliked the most and then concluded I knew them, in total. I could explain their lives to them. I certainly could tell them about their deepest, darkest faults and I could even practice some arm chair psychology, making hypotheses about childhoods plagued by playground incidents which led them to become cold and dead inside as adults. Oh, I knew them.

 

Now, since in my subconscious they were no longer humans, but some kind of sub-human, I responded to them in kind. I called them names. I questioned their intelligence. I said I was calling out justice, but justice was more of a nice coattail to my tirade of rage and pride. And when it finally hit me, all the damage I had done- to people, I took some time away from blogging. And tried my very damndest to stay off twitter.

 

So it’s fitting that during this season I began reading Speak by Nish Weiseth. She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of A Deeper Story, an online collaborative that I was so honored to become a part of this year. She has been active in the blogging world for years, partnering with World Vision to go investigate and then tell stories of lives impacted by the organizations’ aid work, she is the mother to two beautiful children and she lives in Salt Lake City.

 

She has also written a book that needs to be read by everyone.

 

Speak is for everyone.

 

It is a gift and triumph. It came into my life and stopped my full descent into internet cynicism. Into mechanical relationship. It stopped and reminded me that I am flesh and blood and beloved, and so is everyone else, including The Gospel Coalition. In many ways, it helped me reorient in the landscape that is the Internet.

 

Nish leads you by the hand through countless stories that shatter stale notions of black and white. Stories about gun control and poverty and feeling burned by the church. She cracks open the events and asks you to simply notice, feel, understand that there is a depth here, nuance and complexity, and since the problems we face are so steep, we need to learn to start right and well. We need to learn to Speak.

 

I was also blown away by the storytelling nature of Jesus. I mean, obviously, he was a storyteller, but I so quickly forget that and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I often make him to be my own puppet of my pet opinions, maybe it’s because I don’t read the Bible enough… Whatever the case, this book illuminated for me the fact that Jesus’ preaching through storytelling stands in direct contrast to the way we like to fashion him into an either-or. That he was a God who spoke in nuance, giving his people ample space to sit and digest the biggest questions before them.

 

I am pragmatic by nature, so I was pleased with the insights she offers into how you go about finding your gifts and passions. It is very practical, very straightforward and it immediately set off some thoughts in my head about what my story truly is about, on a deeper level, and it also made me wonder about all these stories all around me. People learning about themselves and about the world, containing so much needed truth within them, and yet, I am so easy to sketch out their caricature before they even say anything.

 

It is a book that is maybe timely for all of us. We face so much that has not been met, progress that feels very one step forward two steps back. And we also are slowly drifting away from each other. Into our own echo chambers. Into the quiet of our study where the license to judge is unaccountable and wild. It is a book that reins us back in. Reminds us of the human heart.

 

I am grateful for what this book did for me. After reading it, I was pushed to become more human here in this space, to bridge the technological chasm as best as I can, revealing my story in the hope that others might speak theirs. And I am confident, following the wisdom of Nish’s words, that I will be better.

 

If you are interested in purchasing this book, buy it here. I assure you, you will not regret it.

  • Nish

    What a generous review, friend. I’m so grateful. Thank you for sharing and being honest. It’s no small thing. xo

  • http://littledidsheknow.net/ Cara Strickland

    Oh Ben, I love the beautiful way you tell how this story matters to your story. In my opinion, those are the best book reviews. I love you, friend. Glad you’re back, and that you are feeling like a regenerated version of yourself. Looking forward to reading this book.

  • Jennifer X

    It’s so easy for any of us to get into the mindset of seeing others as just pixels on a screen online, easy to forget that they are humans. Thank you for the reminder, and for the book recommendation – sounds like something I would be interested in reading myself.