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Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society Hardcover – May 1, 2011
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"Bold, intelligent, and convicting. Even as culture rewards our masks, Veneer urges us to rip them off. The life we ought to live is identified on these pages. Only read if you are ready to shed your façade." --Gabe Lyons, Q founder and author of The Next Christians
"Our culture wants an `app for happiness,' and the church too often imitates that `app culture.' Veneer contains the best exposure of our `Celebrity Me!' culture I've seen, and once Willard and Locy have peeled back the veneer, they take us on a journey into knowing God. A must-read for parents and leaders--and I'll be putting copies of this in the hands of my students." --Scot McKnight, author of One.Life: Jesus Calls, We Follow
"When I put down this book, I felt seen, heard, and not crazy. That's about the highest compliment I can give. Veneer asked me to look at the truth about myself--consumerism, celebrity-gawking, the temptation to give people a curated and manufactured Facebook-profile version of myself. And then it reminded me of a better way: deep relationships, intimacy, face-to-face connections, honesty even when it's ugly. It reminded me of how I want to live." --Shauna Niequist, author of Bittersweet
"The more I read Veneer, the more I wanted to keep reading. The writing is refreshingly winsome and artful. Willard and Locy draw from masters past and present to offer an incisive cultural theology that drives us toward the knowledge and magnificence of God as the antidote to the superficial cloak of self-love and image management so common in today's world. Compelling, fascinating, challenging--Veneer gives you permission to be you." --Chip Ingram, author and president of Living on the Edge
"In a time when so many Christian books offer a lot of sizzle and not much steak, it's satisfying to find one that defies the trend. Willard and Locy artfully diagnose the shallowness of our culture and call those belonging to Christ into deeper waters. Rather than emulating our society to win wider approval, they encourage us back to Scripture and a more profound communion with God." --Skye Jethani, senior editor of the Leadership Journal
"In a culture commonly driven by consumption, many long for a deeper level of connection that is missing in our busy, lonely lives. Willard and Locy begin to address the questions you've only dared to ask in the quietness of your soul. This book will help in the too-often futile search for significance; the significance that shallow success, cheap celebrity, and surface-level acquaintanceships could never provide. Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society is timely and powerful; a deeply compelling work that will surely resonate with this generation." --Kevin Palau, president of the Luis Palau Association
"Veneer is an insightful book for the times that we live in. Willard and Locy have pulled back the layers as to why the church fails to thrive and the importance of going deep in a surface world. A compelling, informative, and timely read." --Jon Tyson, lead pastor of Trinity Grace New York City
"Willard and Locy take a hard look at our society and then provide a gentle and persuasive nudge into a new perspective. A pleasure to read, Veneer will challenge us all." --Darren Whitehead, teaching pastor of Willow Creek
"The message of Veneer is one that every leader needs to hear and adapt. Willard and Locy have provided a much needed `reset' on how we should all think, live, and be." --Brad Lomenick, director of Catalyst
About the Author
Timothy D. Willard has written for publications and organizations such as Catalyst, WinShape Foundation, The Prison Entrepreneurship Program, and Invisible Ink. He is also pursuing an MA in Christian Thought at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He lives with his wife and their daughter, Lyric.
R. Jason Locy is the Creative Director of FiveStone, a multi-disciplinary design studio whose client list includes MTV, Chick-fil-A, Q, and Catalyst, and has won multiple awards for his work. He has also written articles for Catalyst and the Q blog. He lives with his wife and three children.
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The language of culture beckons us to talk a certain way, act a certain way, dress a certain way, and ultimately live a certain way. "We all speak this language as we mimic the world of celebrity, buy in to the promise of consumption, and place our trust in the hope of progress." The celebrity world tempts us to put self above all others. Through consumption we search for meaning, while the progress of technology allows us to escape the real. "Our computer screens and avatars simulate the life we want but not necessarily the life we have."
In the chapters that follow, the authors address a number of these concerns:
- The veneer of celebrity causes us to strive after culture's definition of success which elevates self. By focusing almost exclusively on self-promotion, we usually end up leveraging our relationships as a means of gaining notoriety and fame. Jesus, however, calls us to self-abandonment, to promote the `other' and to redefine success as obedience to God.
- We are a culture obsessed with consuming, and every decision we make about what to buy (we believe) makes a statement about who we are trying to become, so that consumption and identity coalesce. We believe that our purchases define us, so we end up buying what culture says will give us meaning. However, "when we focus our lives on an outward expression - consumption - seeking to produce inward meaning, we fragment ourselves." As we move away from our inner source, God, we can "survive only for a time before we perish in the dry air of consumerism."
- Technology has also become intimately connected with consumerism in that we view people as products. Facebook (yes, I have my own page) allows us to browse, not for products, but people. "Our hobbies, interests, and religious views are all relegated to what can fit into a form on a website, our relationship status reduced to the choices offered by a drop-down menu, our opinions synthesized to 140 characters" on Twitter (yes, I have one of those as well). Human beings "look like products in an online shopping cart - downloadable, browse-able, clickable, even deletable." However, this has caused us to drift away from one another and we soon realize that something is missing.
In the end, Willard and Locy call us to strip away the veneer from the inside-out, and to allow the God who created us to shape us into people that reflect his character and attributes; to be the people he made us to be. They call us to embrace a new existence, one defined and made possible by Christ and unbound by the trappings of culture. They call us to capture the language of God.
I highly recommend this book to everyone searching for meaning and clarity in a culture that has scripted a skewed definition of what it means to truly live, and who believe that there is more to life than what society promotes as `real.' The book will help you to begin the process of stripping away the veneers that culture has applied over the years and will inspire you to acquire a new sense of identity and purpose; one that allows God to define you as you were meant to be defined, and to live as you were meant to live.
Loving God and loving others.
This is a quick but meaningful read that I'd recommend to 16-50 year olds.
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