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Ever felt you weren't as good as everyone else?
on 6 November 2003
If you've ever felt that you were probably the only person in the world who felt so messed up, or thought that people only liked you because they didn't realise how horrible you are inside, this is the book for you.
John Ortberg writes challenging books that also provide comfort for those who struggle along the way, and "Everybody's Normal..." is no exception. Starting from the theological concept of "depravity", Ortberg explains in an easy-to-grasp way that all human beings are like the goods in the "slight seconds" part of the store; we all carry an "as is" tag that means we have a fault somewhere. We can try to hide our faults by becoming high achievers and feeling superior to everyone else, often putting others down in the process, or we can withdraw into superficial relationships, never revealing ourselves for fear of how others will react.
However, this book suggests, there is another way, and so introduces the main theme of living in community. Much of the book is taken up with exploring what it means to live in community with others, and the attitudes and behaviour that genuinely make community a spiritually nourishing place. Again there is a clear theological base for this, with a discussion on the relational nature of the Trinity that presents an extremely complex idea in a way that fits in with the reader-friendly tone of the rest of the book.
While possibly not a book for those who have no knowledge of the christian faith - Ortberg refers to concepts and stories which he explains in simple terms, but still assumes his readers will be aware of them - this could easily be read by someone new to christianity who wants to make a difference in his or her life, as well as by a person who knows the in and outs of the faith and wants to be challenged afresh.
As the back of the book makes clear, this is not a self help guide that will help you to get along with all those dysfunctional people out there. John Ortberg is clear that we start from recognizing that we are as dysfunctional as the rest of them, and that God loves us, not in spite of our faults (or because of them), but because he longs for a deep and nurturing relationship with us. Yes, we need to change some of the ways we relate to ourselves, to others and to God, but the picture that this book describes of God's kingdom community makes it seem very worthwhile.