Act Like Men: 40 Days To Biblical Manhood, by James MacDonald
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
This book is full of ironies, as it was written by someone who complains about how little men read but brags a lot about the books he has written, none of which I have apparently read before. The author writes about building up men but spends a lot of time tearing down men, including the late and great A.W. Tozer , who the writer seems to suggest was a bad husband and father. This book cannot seem to define whether it is written for men and wanting to encourage them to read more through bluntspoken truth or whether it is being written about men to women who might want to better understand men but who are likely to think rather harshly about them. Given the fact that so many more women than men read, it seems at least highly possible given the tone and approach of the author to the subject of manhood that the author is writing this book aimed at women encouraging them to nag their man to be a better man. I’m a bit dubious about it working, because the tonal inconsistency means that this book is not as good as it could have been.
Like quite a few books, this book is written as a 40 day self-help guide , and it is organized very schematically. The book discusses five concepts: acting like men, being watchful, standing firm in the faith, being strong, and doing everything in love–but a manly love, not a weak and girly love. Each of these five concepts is discussed in eight parts: text focus, summary word, a failure from the Old Testament, Paul’s example, Satan’s lie, and three chapters that look at the topic from one of the beings in the supposed Trinity. A great deal of this book, by design, is highly negative, under the belief that men will be encouraged to act like men by reading about failures–failures that include the struggles faced by the author and other members of his illustrious family as well as numerous other Christian leaders, to say nothing of the worldly and the biblical examples that he uses like David, Saul, and Samson. The author seems to be of the belief that the best way to motivate men to act better is to hit them continually with the fear of failure.
Ultimately, I think this approach is a mistake. Given the massive amount of failures in manhood that are shown all around us, and the immensely demanding standards that the author has for being godly men in personal conduct, in faith towards God, as well as in one’s family life, this is a book that could use a lot more positivity. The author himself even seems a bit defensive about the approach he takes, seeing that he could be judged as being immensely negative in this book. This book is an example of a book that takes a worthwhile subject of considerable importance and spends a great deal of time working on the graphical design and the structure of the book to make it short enough (at just over 250 pages) to make it easy to read for men or for the women who want to “encourage” them but without paying attention to the need to have a tone that is uplifting and edifying. The point is not to tear down men for not being all that they could be–that is done often enough that the author hardly needs to pile on when so many men are under such consistent attack–but rather to encourage men to be the best that they can be by giving good models for success. Although it has a great deal of insight, this book also has a lot of missed potential.
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