Book Review: Born To Wander

Born To Wander:  Recovering The Value Of Our Pilgrim Identity, by Michelle Van Loon

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

I feel I must admit that I wanted to like and thought I would like this book a lot more than I did.  I’m not sure whether that is because the author simply rubbed me the wrong way, or whether there is something more substantial in the author’s approach that I found to be bothersome that may be shared by a broader audience.  On the one hand, the author’s discussion of our status as pilgrims and sojourners in this earth is a worthwhile one [1], but the author seems to approach the subject from two particular points of view that I find deeply troublesome.  For one, the author has more than a bit of that social gospel tendency to praise political leftism as if it was godliness, something that is deeply unscriptural and personally offensive.  Additionally, the author seems to be showing off by tossing around Hebrew words even if she appears not very knowledgeable in or obedient to the Torah.  The result is a book that promises much but disappoints much as well.

The less than 200 pages of the book are divided into eleven chapters with single word titles in which the author mixes her attempts at exegesis and discussing the relevance of the topic for contemporary believers along with her own reading and stories from her personal life that are designed to increase our ability to relate to her.  Through these eleven chapters the author tells us how we as believers are uprooted, sent, waylaid, displaced, warned, divided, remembered, trekked, sojourned, and diverted before God finally reveals His plans and purposes for us.  Each of the chapters closes with some discussion questions by the author that are meant to spark thought on the subject matter by the reader.  For the most part, though, I found myself in reading the book rather annoyed or irritated by the author’s approach and point of view and not inclined to make myself vulnerable to her even as a reader, much less as a reviewer, and it seems likely that this book will likely be most appreciated by those who either think the author more knowledgeable about the Bible than I do or by those who empathize/sympathize with her more than I do.

Ultimately, this is a book that talks about a worthwhile subject but where the author (and whoever was editing her) likely could have done a lot better job at focusing on how to appeal to her target audience.  Even as a single, never married believer I found the author’s insult of churches for focusing on families in light of the societal crisis we are in right now.  The author was similarly tone deaf on showing herself to be in general the sort of leftist Social Justice Warrior whose books I regularly skewer with relish, which made it strange that she tried to present herself as representing a biblical view rather than owning her partisanship.  The book’s back cover presents her as a “master storyteller” but the author would have been better served to have increased her humility and decreased the shrillness of her presentation of the various alienating experiences of her life as well as her worldview errors.  Even so, the historical commentary the author provides is at least interesting and the author appears to have at least read very worthwhile books, so there is something to get out of this book, namely a feeling that with so many similarities one should like the author and her book more than one does.

[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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