this book is part fiction, part non-fiction, delineated nicely in the middle. not that there could be confusion between the two.
the author begins the tale by describing a "suspenseful" journey to discover a "map" within the book of matthew. then, once the map has been discovered, the author delves deeper into the implications of the map and what it means for christian men.
i wanted to like this book. i wanted to have something that i could hand to my husband, brother and others and say, "here! this is it! this will change your walk with christ forever!" this book, sadly though, isn't it.
in the first part, the story is obviously fictional, and though i tried to convince myself that it was believable, it simply was not. the characters seemed forced; the plot was contrived. the whole time i was reading, the phrase 'da vinci code wannabe' kept running through my head.
the second part was slightly better leading me to believe that perhaps the author should have only written the second part, and used the "story" from the first interspersed as examples, or worked on the first part to develop the plot and characters better. as a whole, the two just don't seem to work well together. on the upside, it is like two books in one. the last half of the book is basically an explanation of how the pattern of Jesus' life as shown in the book of matthew gives a "map" for men to follow today, and gives a "reason" to pursue strength (using a 21st western definition of the word) and for being "macho." unfortunately, it left me with many more questions than it gave me answers.
what about women? (he does address this, briefly, for about a paragraph or two, but does not say anything meaningful about it -- it seems more a token mention). if the "map" is so revolutionary for men, and is indeed how they should live their life, shouldn't it offer some nugget of truth for how women can be victorious as well?
what about non-American men? the whole premise of the book is how christianity has emasculated the men, and thus they are no longer interested in church because it isn't "macho." in my admittedly limited exposure, though, this "macho-ness" seems to be especially prevalent amongst american men. many of the european and asian men I know do not worry about it. if it were as true for american men as it was for Jesus, wouldn't it also be true for men everywhere? which leads to my last point.
this seems to be yet another effort of a christian writer to offer something (for a profit, it would seem) and seemingly ignore the cultural and societal differences between the 21st century and the time of Christ. it reminds me of the books that say, "since jesus ate this, we need to." it always makes me want to ask, "jesus didn't mention going to the bathroom, so does that mean we are not supposed to?" to me, "macho-ness" is a cultural thing and to try to reconcile it to a biblical view, or justify it, even, seems a bit ingenious to me.
the author *does* make some good points about submission and the differences between peacemaking and peacekeeping. the latter, especially, seemed well thought out and addressed an perspective that isn't often thought about in present day churches.
overall, it wasn't a *bad* book -- there were some redeeming points, and it does address an issue that perhaps needs to be studied a bit more. taken separately, each section of the book is probably better on its own rather than with its partner, though.
3 out of 5 stars
(full disclosure: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com