Sunday, April 1, 2012

Reordering my Desires

The title of my latest read, Our Favorite Sins by Todd D. Hunter, may have you running for the delete button on your computer, but hang with me. This one is worth it.

There are several authors that I'll simply read whatever they write. Todd Hunter is one of those authors. I had the privelege of meeting him at a conference in Houston, Texas a few years ago and ever since I've been hooked. He's a thoughtful man, well-schooled in life...and a good writer.

I've read several books on sin - I know, I'm an odd bird. I believe this one is the best of the bunch. Todd lays out a roadmap on how temptation snares us and then plots the path out of the pit. His goal is that "after finishing (the book), you should be equipped to battle the temptations you face with a new, unique, and empowering perspective on sin, temptation, and desire."

Step one is understanding the battle: "Beating temptation requires struggle because it always involves sorting out rightly ordered desires for good and godly things from our disordered desires for wrong things. We often experience these disordered desires as our most powerful and deeply rooted desires." And understanding that, "Temptation does not produce desire. Desire makes temptation possible. To beat temptation, I need to reorder my desires."

The central theme of the book is about inner change the only vehicle to prevail over external issues of temptation and sin. "When it comes to spiritual growth, when it comes to reordering the hidden desires that leads us into temptation, we must turn inward to make an outward difference."

One of the interesting additions to this book is that Todd utilizes exclusive research by the Barna Group to illustrate and inform his book. Based on the Barna research, the top five self-reported temptations in America are: worry and anxiety; procrastination; over eating; overuse of electronics and social media; and laziness. The book is peppered with interesting findings such as that "the top reason 20 percent of Americans identify for falling into sin is to escape or get away from real life for a while." These temptations receive indepth attention in chapters devoted completely to each topic. Each chapter also concludes with "Ancient and Fruitful Practice." These are prayers and meditations often drawn from the Common Book of Prayer or Celtic Daily Prayer.

At the halfway point in the book, Todd switches to examining "seven modern and futile ways of thinking about and dealing with temptation:"
  • Underestimating the power of desire
  • "I'm different, so it won't happen to me"
  • Believing that keeping it real is most valuable
  • Failing to admit we are prone to wander
  • Trying to drink from a dried-up well
  • Forgetting that temptations oversell and underdeliver
  • Not understanding that daily devotions can be futile too
And then the solutions: ancient and fruitful practices like solitude, silence, and seeking first the kingdom. The final chapters are devoted to explanations of the value of liturgical prayers and offices, sacraments and the lectionary as vehicles to drive inward spiritual growth.

I really enjoyed this book and heartily recommend it.


This book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson in exchange for an unbiased review.

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