I was asked to review this book to join in a conversation about changing the world and social justice and to assist in promoting the book by sharing my thoughts and what have you. That’s the reason I was asked. However, that wasn’t actually the reason I was given this book. Fly By Productions thought it was, but it wasn’t. Turns out, it has nothing to do with them, with Eugene Cho (sorry, man) or anyone else who had a part in the book. It had only to do with me. God put this book in my hands because I needed to read it. God put this book in my hands because it’s about the same exact subject matter that I have been conflicted by for months. Out of all the blogs on the internet (literally a trillion million), mine was one of the few that received a comment asking if I’d take the time to read this book? Reeeeeeal subtle, God. I am of course still going to share my thoughts and participate in this conversation as I was asked to do, but you should know that wasn’t actually why God wanted me to read this book.
Eugene Cho’s “Overrated: Are We More in Love With the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?” is perhaps one of the most pleasant books that has ever made me feel like I had been slapped in the face. The slap was so subtle through his gentle language that I barely noticed it until my heart was massively heavy over the things that I had read. A ‘ninja slap’, if you will.
He writes boldly and bravely about one of the truths we don’t like to listen to. Seriously, tell me how much God loves me all day long and I won’t stop you once, but start talking about the poverty in other parts of the world (and our part) and how indifference to such things can not coexist with gospel and I’ll squirm nervously in my seat and pretend to have to go to the bathroom.
The issue of social justice is hard. It just is. It’s hard because it demands so so much of us. It demands action – putting your money where you mouth is, walking the walk instead of just talking the talk… on instagram and facebook and every other soap box we clamber on top of to shout about trendy movements. Social justice screws up our selfishness. And in our culture that is maddening. The only reason, I feel, that Eugene Cho is qualified to write such a book is because of his honest confrontation with selfishness. Praise the Lord for an author who includes so much of his heart and honesty in the pages. He shares moments when saying no to others would have been easier than saying yes. Stories of feeling heavy and angry and pulled.
I wrote earlier that this subject is one I have been wrestling a lot in the last few months, and I truly meant that. I have been trying to get myself out of my own way and allow God to teach me how to love, with little success. I have been searching my heart and horrified, often, at what I have found. To receive this book was not a coincidence, it was an act of my heavenly Father who isn’t giving up on me yet. Even though he has never met me, there were parts of this book that felt like Eugene was writing about me. Like he had gotten a hold of my diary and was addressing all the sins and struggles that needed addressing, ninja-slap style.
When I was in college I went on several different trips to several different poor countries and the way I viewed them then, vs. the way I view them now, is incredibly different. I was asked to go on several of these trips so that I could photograph the work that was being done by different organizations. I felt amazing. I was getting to play with beautiful children, I was taking photographs of said beautiful kids, and I was making a difference. But I wasn’t, really. I wasn’t at all. Those trips didn’t benefit the children and people that I was meeting. They benefited me and my ego, but nobody else. I shake my head when I think about the facebook posts I made about these trips and the talks that I was asked to give at church about the importance of loving others. I didn’t know anything about loving others – I knew only that these trips would make me look interesting on facebook. What I was practicing is what Eugene would call doing unjust justice. In chapter 9 he writes,
“I don’t want to question somebody’s motivation, or the heart behind why he or she wants to act. But having a good heart is not enough. It’s not enough when our actions affect the lives of others… especially people who are already vulnerable. At times we choose to help others in a way that makes us feel as good as possible. When I say “we”, I’m including you and me. Perhaps we help others so that we can have a good experience, get good photos, or tell good stories later. This is not enough.”
*gulp* I haven’t done enough. And you may not have either. But praise Jesus, our Father hasn’t given up on us. He hasn’t been too disgusted by our pride and selfishness and laziness to call us into His kingdom and to participate in furthering justice. We are called, and “Overrated” affirms that on every page. This book is both empowering and humbling. It is Eugene’s confession of favoring the idea of changing the world more so than actually changing it so that we can, in turn, confess the same thing. We were not called to hashtag, we were called to help and love and move. But we are called to help and love and move wisely and intentionally. If you feel stirred to help wisely and intentionally, I highly recommend this book. Even if you don’t feel that stirring yet, I highly recommend this book. Essentially, if you are a believer in Christ, I highly recommend this book. But a fair warning: you’re going to get ninja-slapped.
“When we are faithful to what God wants us to do, beautiful things happen. No, I am not suggesting that everything we will do must appear successful by the world’s standards of success. Our work may not be huge. It may not grow to a massive size and scale. It may not garner the attention and affection of media. It doesn’t have to be about those things. It will likely not be easy… but it will be beautiful nevertheless because we will have been faithful to the Lord’s call.”
To make it even easier for you to read his book, I’m having a giveaway! I really loved what Eugene Cho had to share and I truly want others to be able to read his thoughts as well. All you need to do is comment on this post by Saturday October 11th to be entered in the giveaway! I will pick a comment at random on Sunday the 12th.
Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 225: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choise of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.