Enlarge My Territory? Bring It On! By Suzi Johnson
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/WestBow Press in exchange for an honest review.]
There are certain things that one learns when reading a lot of self-published authors . One of them is that self-published authors are often far more transparent in what they are writing about than other artists that have the benefit of agents and editors. In this case, the book is one with an identity crisis, in that it is three separate books in one, all of them short, and some of them awfully muddled. On the one hand, this is a derivative book, taking its inspiration from the prosperity gospel Prayer of Jabez, which marks it as a book of prosperity theology as well, something that ought to be reasonably clear from the title. However, in addition to that this book is a personal memoir of a woman who seeks to determine God’s beneficence through the blessings in her life, written almost like a diary, and is a self-help/motivational book as well with the clichés of that genre. The end result is a book that cannot decide fully what it is, except that God is viewed as some sort of cosmic genie that responds to the power of positive thinking and that blames those with difficult lives for being too negative and having various “shields” that block God’s blessings from their lives.
Despite the fact that the book is terribly muddled in terms of its genre, the author does manage to organize the contents of the book in a consistent format, testament to the fact that she learned something from having an author for a father. The main contents of the book are divided into three parts, and there is a short fourth part that gives closing inspirational comments. The first part asks what it means to enlarge our territory, containing sections on how we create our own luck as well as a lot of personal stories. The second part asks why we would want to enlarge our territory by receiving God’s blessings, and contains more motivational information. The third section asks how we go about enlarging our territory and contains still more advice from the perspective of magical thinking, given with a simulacrum of biblical citations to make it appear as if the author is writing from the point of view of Christianity rather than from more occult-influenced motivational thinking.
Although this book is not a very good book, it has at least a few things that make it worthwhile as a read anyway. For one, this book demonstrates the wide spread of motivational thinking and the magical thinking of the ancients dressed up in more contemporary Christian outside appearance, and demonstrates at least a few of the ways this way of thinking has managed to spread, especially through “Christian” writings as well as the self-help books that are popular among salesmen for whom the maintenance of a positive mindset is absolutely essential for success. This book is worthwhile as an artifact of the popularity of certain ways of thinking that resemble all too closely the theology of Job’s friends. After all, believing that positive thinking attracts goodness often means, as a logical consequence, that bad things happen as a result of some sort of divine disfavor or a lack of positive thinking, and therefore there need not be any compassion for those who have difficult lives or trials because they are bringing it upon themselves with their own mindset. Thus any tendency towards compassion is undercut by our own heartless theology. Just because this book, and others like it, is particularly wicked and abhorrent does not mean it is not without value, even if that value is more about what to avoid in our theology than any positive virtue.
 See, for example: