Sunday, April 17, 2011

Book Review: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You AreOne Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I think Ann Voskamp is a modern day mystic.  Either that, or she has a way of explaining her perceptions of the world that is almost completely foreign to me.  It is beautiful, yes.  The way she sees, the way she perceives, the way she writes is lyrical and evocative.

So why the 3 stars? I did enjoy the book, am glad I read it, and am extra glad to have finished it.  I almost had to force myself to read it ... and I'm not sure why.

Voskamp uses the idea of thankfulness as an all-encompassing focus of our walk with Christ.  She explores thankfulness through good and bad events in her life.  How to be thankful when it is hard? What does it mean to be thankful in union with Christ? How can thankfulness bring full expression to joy?

I take some of the theological insight with a grain of salt, but the call to thankfulness, the call to seeing all as gift from God, is a call I needed to hear.

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  1. I totally understand your rating on this one. I can only read so much Voskamp--her writing is poor, filled with Thoughts Which Are Too High For Complete Sentences (quoting a little Esolen there for you). I find her inspiring in small doses, such as when someone I know emails me a blog post, but I certainly wouldn't read a book by her if I could help it!

    I DO think that encouraging folks in our culture to be grateful is a noble goal, though.

  2. I really should finish 10 Ways ... I hope to this week ...

  3. Brandy and Dawn -- I feel the same way about her writing, except that I didn't think she used incomplete sentences more than many stylistic writers do, and she at least usually does do it purposefully and intentionally with the effect she desires. And, actually, I think there were fewer incomplete sentences in the book than there usually are on her blog; she tended more to use adjectives as nouns or nouns as adjectives and tag a word on at the end, but it was all to effect, so I don't hold it against her. :) I just can only take so much at a time.

    Her themes are too much to take every single day. It wears me out. Yet some of my favorite posts I keep returning to are hers. However, in the book it was all one theme and she was really persistent and consistent and unified and even organized; where I thought she was getting off track and rambling, suddenly she'd bring it back. It was a crafted book.

    And I, too, have the same feeling, Dawn, of being glad I'm finished. :)

    But it was interesting reading it alongside Poetic Knowledge, because actually I think she is trying to communicate a poetic knowledge. She sees, and she wants to show others what she sees and how to see for themselves, and she does it by narrating. And, really, that's more effective than Taylor's jargon.

    Gratitude as the frame of mind necessary in order to receive God's grace-in-the-moment -- even hard moments is a thought and idea that I will definitely be ruminating on for a long time, anyway.

  4. Mystie, I agree that this was better written than her blog and that generally sentences were complete and such. I still got the sense that her thoughts were too high for me. And I wonder about some of the narration, were these things really coalescing as she was thinking about them? I know that happens to me on occasion, but not with the frequency or depth that she seemed to stumble upon thoughts without looking for them.

    Anyway, I am terribly conflicted about the book. Glad I read it, helpful in many ways, glad to be done with it, unsure if I'd recommend it. [sigh]

    Thanks for your thoughts, Mystie. They were actually quite helpful. Looking forward to your complete review on your blog :)

  5. I'm conflicted about whether to pass it on or not, too. I have a friend whose life is one big hard providence, and she questions if God is good. I kept wondering as I read it if this book would be helpful or not for her. I don't know.

    I think writing things out helps things coalesce. I get vague connections and ideas, and putting words to them can be painfully difficult, but makes them solid.

    Yes, I also wondered as I read it if such high connections and thoughts were part of her wiring, her personality, and perhaps her healing, too; should we all be striving for that level of meditation? I get worn out just reading her. But my takeaway for myself is "to slow" when start getting up tight or irritated and remember that "all things come, not by chance, but from His fatherly hand." (Heidelberg Q&A 27 on providence) and receive it with an open, trusting hand. That reminder was worth making it through the book.

  6. Some interesting comments in this thread.

  7. The last chapter didn't really bother me, though I can certainly understand if it did bother some people. I think she was trying to put words to a biblical concept and it didn't come out very clearly, but I think her underlying point is valid. Paul says that a man and a woman becoming one flesh is a mystery, but he's speaking of Christ and the Church. I think marital intimacy must be a valid metaphor to use for our relationship to God because it's one God Himself uses over and over in Scripture.

    I think American evangelicalism is too prudish, honestly. :)


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