about you by dick staub

I recently signed up to do some reviews for The OOZE Viral Bloggers, and the first book that I could get my hands on was About You by Dick Staub, which features the following tagline: ‘Jesus Didn’t Come to Make Us Christian; Jesus Came to Make Us Fully Human.’ In all honesty, this isn’t necessarily a book I would have picked up and read on my own volition, as, at first glance, it appeared to be another ‘find your best purpose driven life’ type of book. While, to my surprise, I found that it was something more than that and I’m glad to have spent some time with it, I’m left with a few lingering and troubling questions.

Allow me to expand.

Staub begins the book by very rightly pointing the reader back to the point of creation, a story that outlines the following reality: “You are not the accidental result of a random, purposeless process but, in fact, were created by a loving, personal God who had you in mind before the beginning of time.” The first few chapters serve to build on this reality, flushing out the creation story and what it means to be created in the image of a loving and relational God, and how we are to live in a way that reflects the intended order of creation. Staub than outlines the symptoms of the ‘disease’ that has caused us to lose sight of all this, a process of dehumanization that was caused not by the eating of the fruit in the garden, but by the fact that Adam and Eve did not trust and obey God [bang on with this point]. In short, things are not the way they are supposed to be, and we are meant to embark on a journey to recovering what it means to be fully human – in body, mind, spirit, creativity, relationships, and morality. The rest of the book serves to help the reader along in this process, outlining how God is continually pursuing us, how Jesus is the ‘great humanizer’, and the marks of what it means to be fully human.

Let me say that I very much enjoyed the first bits of the book, and believe that Staub’s outline of the creation story and the human condition thereafter; it’s accurate and quite well-written. But while he encourages the reader to seek after a holistic mode of living that embraces all that is good within us (engaging our minds, bodies and spirits in creative and meaningful ways), and while I don’t seen anything inherently wrong with that, I can’t get past the fact that the vision of full humanity that he outlines in the book seems to be counter to the words of Jesus, when he says the following: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

While Staub’s vision of full humanity seems to involve a continual progression towards personal, and in some respects, communal betterment, the way of Jesus seems to point downwards, a path that includes much sacrifice, suffering, and even death. Staub encourages us to become fully human and fully alive; Christ points us down a path that leads to the cross. I see some value in the kind of message that Staub is bringing forth, and I think there is some truth to what he is saying in regards to recovering a deeper sense of what we were created to be and do, but I have a hard time reconciling all of this with Jesus’ call to authentic discipleship.

On a more shallow level, there were two moments in this book that irked me, specifically Staub’s attempts to reference movies: he refers to Brad Pitt’s character in Fight Club and Tyler Darden (it’s Durden), and he refers to a movie starring Alex Baldwin, when we all know it’s Alec. Small things, I know, but it bugged me.

Basically, part of me resonated with this book as I was reminded of what it means to be created by a loving God, in his image, and for a purpose. I’m just not sure if Staub’s ‘program’ for the recovery of full humanity meshes very well with the Way of Jesus. This is a tension that exists all around us, and it’s up to each of us to continually work out what it means to follow Christ.

In short, it’s a good book, but I’m not prepared to go all the way with it.

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