Monday, March 30, 2020

"The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever" - Jamie Wright

I got pretty close to exactly what I expected from Jamie Wright's "The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever," a mostly autobiographical collection written by the popular writer of "The Very Worst Missionary" blog.

Wright warns you upfront that she's not the best writer and seems to, in her self-deprecating way, warn you that she thinks it's weird that you would give a negative review to a book she told you would suck. But, yeah.

A good majority of the book is firmly grounded in Wright's life including brief reflections on her younger years, reflections on her early married years, quite a few reflections on her family's five years as missionaries in Costa Rica, and essentially the journey back home where she became a voice for missions reform and more effective humanitarian aid efforts.

In case you have any doubt, she's absolutely right about the fact that most short-term missions do more damage than good and a good amount of both missionary work and humanitarian aid is nothing more than a short-term band-aid that doesn't begin to address root causes and oftentimes serves to perpetuate the need for humanitarian aid.

Wright's book is definitely not for the more conservative Christian crowd. While the book is not filled with obscenities, she doesn't hesitate to use them when she deems appropriate and there's an f-bomb not too far into the book. While I'm absolutely convinced that Jesus dropped more than a few of the f-bombs of His day, I technically have no proof (I wasn't there) and it's not an argument I'm willing to have.

That said, suffice it to say I'm not opposed to the use of obscenities. That said, I will say that even I at times felt like it was done more for effect than actually being naturally manifested. It didn't so much bother me as it simply felt unnecessarily intentional.

I also felt this way about the self-deprecating language. It got old. It's like a comedian who tells a joke, then tells it again and again.

However, for the most part I found myself really appreciating Wright's openness, transparency, and willingness to go into the not so pretty parts of her faith journey.

Okay, actually they were downright ugly at times.

In some ways, I'd compare it to when Glennon Doyle Melton was writing about the issues within her first marriage. There was a rawness and honesty to it that was simply refreshing. The same is true here.

If you're familiar with Wright and appreciate her, then you'll appreciate this book. If your theology is on the progressive end, you'll likely be able to embrace her rawness and language. If you're more conservative, evangelical or fundamentalist, then this book is definitely not one you're likely to embrace.

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