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Formato: Copertina flessibile
The universal desire--however it might manifest itself--to control others and their impressions of us is the subject of Karen Ehman's new book Let. It. Go.: How to Stop Running the Show and Start Walking in Faith. While Ehman has plenty of praise for industrious, well-organized, capable women who thrive in their homes and places of work, her objective is to help those same women identify the "miniscule line between being conscientious and being controlling" (17). Writing from an evangelical and complementarian vantage point, Ehman's objective is to offer biblical justification for loosening the reigns a little bit, as well as some practical steps we can take toward this goal.
Let. It. Go. has a number of strengths and two very critical flaws.
A perceptive and sensitive woman, Ehman is most helpful when, after dismantling the facades we wear, she analyzes our raw human impulses, particularly those that drive us to manipulate others and exert unhealthy levels of control over our environments. She refuses to make the overtly bossy, opinionated and loud woman bear the burden of representation for the all the control freaks out there, exposing, also, "the soft-spoken saint", "the enabler" "the martyr" and "the people pleaser" (20-21). She argues quite persuasively that controlling personalities come in many forms--and quiet, gentle and agreeable women are not necessarily exempt from her criticism. Her willingness to invite readers to reflect upon her own storehouse of fears, desires, insecurities and controlling impulses makes her a winsome and authentic voice--one from whom I think most readers will gladly accept instruction. She's also quite adept at illuminating the ways in which our unique cultural moment fuels our thirst for control by bombarding us with a plethora of choices as we make everyday decisions and by facilitating-- through technology and social networking--the endless comparisons we make between our lives and those of our friends and acquaintances.
In an effort to establish rapport with readers, Ehman writes informally and in a self-deprecating tone. While her sense of humor works well in some sections of the book, it detracts from her stated goals in others. It's clear that Ehman is passionate about communicating biblical truths to readers, yet the irreverent tone with which she often exegetes Scripture is problematic and distracting. For example, in the third chapter of the book, she examines the Fall in light of the theme of control. She alludes tangentially to scholarly debate surrounding precisely what kind of fruit God forbade Adam and Eve to eat and then writes, "My personal opinion? It was a deep, dark-chocolate, festive foil-wrapped, whack-open orange--the kind my hubby hides in the toe of my stocking on Christmas morning. That would have been the only fruit that stood a chance of tempting me!" (50). Other examples occur in chapter eight when Ehman is holding up Esther as a model of godly faithfulness which we ought to emulate. In recounting Esther's story, she refers to Mordecai as "Uncle Morty," and King Xerxes as "the hubster." She likens the narrative to "an ancient episode of The Bachelor" (160) and peppers her exegesis with exclamatory remarks like "Uh-oh," "gasp!" and "Double ouch" (158-160).
While I appreciate her efforts to make Scripture engaging and accessible to readers, I often felt patronized by her flippant tone, which threatened to belie her stated commitment to the authority of Scripture.
My second major criticism of Let. It. Go. deals with the book's theological foundation--or lack thereof. A book that admonishes women to "control what we should and trust God with what we can't" (23) absolutely must flesh out, as much as possible, the doctrine of God's sovereignty. In Ehman's defense, she does encourage readers by pointing to Scripture that demonstrates God's control over both creation and man's steps, but, since she never really addresses the idea of compatibilism, the relationship between man's responsibility and God's sovereignty gets a little muddled. For example, on page 155 she writes, "We can attempt to change our circumstances. Sometimes it works, but not always" and then, on the very next page, she writes, "It's God's job to determine our circumstances."
But, more troubling than her potentially confusing discussion of God's sovereignty is the complete absence of any gospel message in this book. There's hardly any mention of Christ Jesus at all, and the implications of his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection for believers are never discussed. When I find myself clamoring for control in my life, what ultimately gives me pause and quiets my heart is the knowledge that Christ has already taken care of my biggest problem--my alienation from God, a problem over which I had absolutely no control--on my behalf. Only with the knowledge that my most daunting existential crisis is already solved can I begin to relinquish the illusion of control I have over my life. Like the contemporary Christian song reminds us: "What heights of love, what depths of peace / When fears are stilled, when strivings cease."
I value Ehman's practical suggestions for managing my desire to control my surroundings. Her three little words "let it go" served as a helpful reminder. But without mention of three other crucial words--"It is finished"--I fear her book won't have nearly the impact that it could.