Monday, April 27, 2009

The Noticer

"Perspective", Webster's says it means, among other things "the state of one's ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship. The faculty of seeing all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship. A mental view or prospect."

In Andy Andrews's newest book, The Noticer, that one word is a thread woven through each story in the book. For lack of a better term, Jones is the "main character" in the book and Perspective is the mantra he employs as he encounters others in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Those he encounters are each suffering in their own way; some are suffering in a failing marriage, some are suffering from loneliness. others from what appears to be just being dealt a bad hand in life. As he encounters each of those people, he enters their lives and their pain or questions or struggle by asking questions of his own. In a way his approach reminded me of law school; asking questions to get the other person to find the answer themselves instead of just telling them the answer.

There is something intriguing about the elusive Jones, I found myself wanting to know his story as he was entering the stories of those around him. While I enjoyed the book and its simple but easily forgotten reminders that each person has a story, each person makes a difference with their life; I walked away from the book feeling like it missed something. The lessons and encouragement found on its pages are certainly good, but I thought the allusion to Jesus was a little attenuated. It seemed to focus so much on YOU (or ME), that it felt a little like the lessons would be too burdensome for those who struggle with depression or other mental health issues or some of life's really big struggles. To look within myself and find "perspective" and ask the questions Jones brought forth rings a little hollow to me in some instances. I guess what I felt was missing was the next step. Yes, take a step back, gain some perspective, ask yourself the tough questions, but don't stop there. God has reached out his hand to us in the life of His Son to walk us through life's struggles, you don't have to walk it alone.

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