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What happened to the topic from the title?
on February 5, 2007
I listened to the unabridged audiocassette version of "Overcoming Overload." The book began with a stirring case against the American suburban plague of overload. At that point, I was tracking with the Farrars and excited for the rest of the book.
However, after presenting such a compelling vision against overload, the authors essentially abandoned that topic and spent the remainder of the book avoiding practical solutions to the problem that they so clearly explicated. Instead, they decided to write a book on the classic spiritual disciplines, utilizing different terms than normal (sustenance rather than Bible study, supplication rather than prayer) to fit their S-word alliteration.
Ultimately, as books on spiritual disciplines go, this one is solid. Richard Foster's "Celebration of Discipline" is more comprehensive, and John Ortberg's "The Life You've Always Wanted" is more engaging. But "Overcoming Overload" is perfectly fine as the Farrars lay out their prescription for the vibrant Christian life.
My frustration is that this information was not what I wanted when I bought this book. Throughout the entire book, excluding the introduction, the specific references to overcoming overload are few and far between. I suppose that the authors intentionally avoided a "how-to" approach to overcoming overload, but I still felt misled about what I had purchased. It's as if they decided that the best solution to anyone burdened by overload is to be a faithful, committed Christian. Though that is true, it's a very generic response for what would equally apply to any problem that a person might experience. I wanted more specific reference to the titled topic.
Other minor quibbles involve some theological perspectives that were communicated rather dogmatically, without sufficient support. For instance, Farrar is apparently a relatively committed Calvinist, but describes his theological positions without any detail. Again, if I had known that this was a more theologically-driven work, this would have made sense.
At the end of the day, the Farrars have written a helpful book. If it were titled, "How to Live a Good Christian Life" or "Disciplines for A True Disciple," it would have made sense. But they appeared to select a very useful title, get distracted by something more interesting, and essentially abandon the initial premise. That was frustrating for me. If you have appropriate expectations, I would expect that you will appreciate it.