Book Review: A Spectacle Of Glory

A Spectacle Of Glory:  God’s Light Shining Through Me Every Day:  A Devotional, by Joni Eareckson Tada with Larry Libby

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Zondervan.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Knowing a bit about the author and her body of work helps to explain a lot of about this book before one reads it.  The author has spent many years as a quadriplegic and writes about it often here.  Additionally, this is at least the fourth year-long devotional book she has written, and its tone can get a bit monotonous sometimes.  The extent to which you enjoy this book or find it profitable will depend a lot on a few factors:  how much you enjoy the genre of devotionals as a whole [1] and whether the author’s generally self-flagellating tone is bothersome to you or not.  As for me, I found this particular devotional to remind me a great deal of the sort of devotional I would have written while struggling with my five-year battle with major depression from 2006 to 2011, or something that would have reflected in general my more melancholy and self-reflective moods.  Others may find it more encouraging and cheerful, and more like its title.

The contents of this book are fairly standard for the page-a-day devotional.  Each day of the year is listed, the devotional as a whole is divided into months, and a bible verse is cited but not always quoted within the devotional.  The author chooses her citations from a variety of Bibles including the NKJV, NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, KJV, Phillips, MSG, and MLB, showing an attention to a wide variety of textual approaches, it must be admitted.  The contents themselves, though, consist of a couple of very short paragraphs making up only 100-200 words and then a personal prayer to either the Father, Son, or less commonly the Holy Spirit, as the mood strikes the author.  The author muses on several subjects over and over again, including her struggle with fantasy life, her longing for a new body in heaven, the realities of her health problems, and the love and concern of her husband and her various helpers.  The closer a reader’s life matches that of the author, the more the reader is likely to appreciate the author’s frustrations with the limitations of this mortal coil or with the reality of chronic pain.

This is by no means a perfect book even within its very confined bounds as a devotional.  The target audience of devotionals does not usually seem to seek spiritual depth but rather a quick and encouraging bit of reading at the beginning or end of each day.  Within those very modest expectations there are a few things that the discerning reader should be aware of.  For one, the author herself does not appear to be very deep in her own biblical understanding.  She states, for example, that she “knows” that God is Triune despite the unbiblical status of that writing, and she seems to take her doctrinal soundings from her own pastor (always a sensible thing for an author to do) as well as John Piper, Murray, C.S. Lewis, and other authors of devotionals.  None of this is necessarily problematic, although it should be noted that Piper has a lot of negative things to say about C.S. Lewis, who was an Arminian rather than a Calvinist like Piper is.  Of course, it is unlikely that the author’s theological interests are serious enough for her to wade into the Synod of Dort or any other related subject, as the author’s theology seldom goes further than the Prayer of Jabez.  If you like your devotionals melodramatic and somewhat intellectually shallow, focused ond the emotional feeling of struggle and the knowledge that one needs to obey even where one does not feel good, this book can be a useful one, otherwise, it will likely wear on you.

[1] See, for example:

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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