People Of The Second Chance: A Guide To Bringing Life-Saving Love To The World, by Mike Foster
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging For Books/Waterbrook Press.]
My feelings about this book and its author are deeply ambivalent. On the one hand, this book is extremely relatable and the author manages to pour a great deal of his own personality and private suffering into this book. He opens up about an accident during his teenage years where an attempt to impress some girls with his boating skills led to a near fatal collision with another person in a lake, and about his lingering horror over being molested as a child. When he talks about the damage people have as a result of their own mistakes and the sins others have committed against them, I can completely buy his sincerity in the matter and relate to it just as completely because of the course of my own life. All that said, at the same time the author’s goodwill is greatly squandered by his appalling choice of sources, ranging from the creator of one of the worst books about the Gospel ever  to leftist terrorist Abbie Hoffman and Maoist pseudohistorian Howard Zinn, among the most wretched collection of humanity to claim as fellow travelers or inspirations or even worthwhile sources to quote on a Christian book. Whatever goodwill he gains from his own candor about his own life is wasted by his choice of perhaps the worst people to quote as support for his own ideas about religion and spirituality or social justice, a subject of clear interest to the writer .
The contents of this book, as might be guessed, mostly revolve around the sort of ways that people with difficult personal histories of abuse, addiction, and immense error and folly can learn to bask in being the beloved of God and see the beauty in their scars. His chapters are full of entertaining anecdotes about himself and others, including Jim Hensen’s repurposing of a green coat to create the first Kermit puppet, a somewhat copycatish discussion of the parable of the Prodigal Son after Nouwen, a celebration of the freedom of an ex-con, talking about bravery with one’s personal stories, finding the wonderful in the weird, changing our negative self-talk, accepting awkward situations, removing our heart of resentment and bitterness, overcoming shame, recognizing and feeling beloved, banishing fear from our lives, and moving from our bad stories to a backstory that shows God working through our lives. While the book spends the majority of the time wallowing in the awkwardness and discomfort and tragedy of life, it does at least offer a little bit of encouragement towards the way in which our stories can help serve God’s glory and serve as part of our own redemption song.
While there is a lot to enjoy about this book, this book clearly exists on one side of a false dilemma within the world of Christian publishing. There are some books which focus on God’s demand for holiness among believers, and there are many good books in that vein, but this book sits squarely on the side that focuses on God’s love for the broken and battered because of his desire to make us whole again. This could have been a great book, for its sentiments are somewhat commonplace in the world of ragamuffinish social gospels, the author clearly has a deeply personal story to tell to go along with his rather ordinary desire to promote social justice in a deeply corrupt society. Yet it is impossible for me to get behind this book because the sources it cites carry with it the ugly specter of leftist revolutionary fervor, and that is not a spirit I want anything to do with whatsoever. In the end, this is a book that leads the reader to wish for the wholeness of the author and those others he talks about, and to want nothing to do with his ungodly and corrupt political agenda. As a reader and reviewer of books, that is not a pleasant place to be.
 See, for example: