Book Review: My Beautiful Idol

Pete Gall captures the messiness of being a Christian in his book My Beautiful Idol. Written in a style comparable to Donald Miller or Anne Lamott (Christian memoir marked with humor and utmost honesty). I would not put it on the level of either Miller or Lamott, but Gall is well on his way. If anybody thinks the Christian life is about happiness and good things falling into place for you, this would be a good book to read. Striving to follow Jesus, the author’s life falls apart. Literally, falls apart. This guy gave up a plush office job with every luxury at his fingertips to meandering in Colorado through seminary (until he dropped out), serving at an alcoholic rehabilitation camp, working in the inner city of Denver, working among mentally handicapped people, and then for a major ministry in the Denver area. Let me tell you, Pete is a straight shooter. He is not afraid to take jabs at people. But he we see a Christian struggling everyday to live and discover the will of God in his life, learning to live in the love and grace of God, and somebody combating all the outside pressures of returning to his old way of life. The book doesn’t even have an overly happy ending. The messiness of being a Christian is enveloped in this book and will probably be the next Blue Like Jazz if the reviews are any indication. The book has dazzling reviews by Shane Claiborne and Philip Yancey already.

In my opinion, the best part of the book, and where the title stems from, is how he describes all the idols we build for ourselves, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. He does not limit idols to the things we can create. He talks about making girlfriends idols, or the seeking of compliments. In a very open and humble manner, Pete tells of all the things he has made idols in his life and how these have distracted him from following Christ. How he portrays idolatry is brilliant. We are always covering ourselves under different idols, shells that we think can protect us. But we have to keep moving from one to the next because we are always growing out of these shells, moving on to newer and trendier idols. I wish I could explain it in full. Maybe you should just read the book. He captures idolatry much better than I can trying to summarize him.

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