Book Review: The Beauty of Broken

The Beauty Of Broken: My Story, And Likely Yours Too, by Elisa Morgan

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This is one of those many books that is largely written by women, for women, and about women [1]. In particular, this book is similar to the Ragamuffin Gospel [2] in that it celebrates the brokenness of people and especially families as a result of this wicked and sinful world. My feelings about the approach of the book are rather mixed. On the one hand, it is very laudable that this book is so open and honest about the life history and struggle of the author and the author’s family (hopefully they approved of the openness of the authoress, as that is not always something that can safely be taken for granted when one writes about the subject matter of this book). On the other hand, though, it can be too easy to wallow in the brokenness rather than to strive for God to help us become whole through His Spirit. This book at least strives to keep that balance, even if it does tend to lean towards the direction of a liberal and wishy-washy approach to godliness and the demands of the holiness of God’s law out of a desire to be loving. This is an understandable bias, but not one I entirely agree with.

The subject matter of this book is very serious. The book discusses such issues as divorce, homosexuality, teen pregnancy, adoption, drug and alcohol addiction, abortion, and even death. There are discussions about ruptures in family relationships involving abusive relationships and serious sin issues, along with the difficulty people face in putting on a brave face and pretending to be righteous and that their lives are godly while there are a lot of serious and unpleasant issues being dealt with. The strongest aspects of the book are those which seek to make other people in the same position or with the same life experience as the author (and I must admit my own broken personal and family background are not too dissimilar from that of the author) relate to the author in a sympathetic fashion. This is a novel about reflection and building up loving relationships with others that are based on compassion and mercy and honesty rather than on agreement in doctrinal or behavioral matters.

The organization of the book is a bit unbalanced. The first section talks about the author’s broken families, expands that to human families, and then talks about God’s broken family, as a way of establishing as wide an audience as possible for reading this book (although the book would appear to presume a mostly female reading audience). The vast majority of the book is the second section, which deals with “broken family values” as opposed to the supposedly unrealistic family values that are preached in churches and considered to be an ideal. This section of the book was written with the intent to legitimize the struggles of many brethren to live up to the demands of godliness found in the Bible, and occasionally go too far in excusing the behaviors talked about. The third section, which is very brief, talks about the beauty of brokenness, followed by some relevant verses and rather emotionally reasoned quotations about the beauty of brokenness and the compassion of God on the broken. The chapters are generally ended by some kind of short and sappy poem or observation about the topic of the chapter written by the author.

Overall, this is a book that speaks to the immense and lamentable effect of generational sin upon our families that have been increasingly fragmented and broken as a result of the wicked behavior of parents being visited on their children to the third and fourth generations. In one sense, this book deals with an important subject that deserves to be mentioned. However, the book appears to be more interested in legitimizing the broken feelings of broken people (like myself, it must be candidly admitted) rather than looking to a way out of that brokenness. This book would have been more useful had it been more practical in improving the conditions of brokenness rather than simply encouraging others to feel better about being broken. We shouldn’t feel guilty about being broken by the evil that many of us have faced since early childhood, but neither should we be comfortable in our brokenness either, seeing as God desires a better fate for us than to be broken forever. He desires to recreate us in His image, and put us in a place to where we can help others in a wicked and broken world. Hopefully we may all do a better job of both allowing God to do His work in us and being a light and example and model to those around us. The beauty of the broken, after all, is in the fact that God puts us back together in a far more whole and far more beautiful way than we could ever make ourselves or others.

[1] For some reason I tend to read many of these books:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/09/14/book-review-wounded-women-of-the-bible/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/book-review-what-about-women/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/book-review-the-women-of-afghanistan-under-the-taliban/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/01/03/book-review-overcoming-abuse-gods-way/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/book-review-sacred-hearts/

[2] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/08/07/book-review-the-ragamuffin-gospel/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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