Mustard Seed Faith: Mountain Moving Ideas To Change Your Life By Changing The Lives Of Others, by Eric Harrison
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Reedsy Discovery in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
If there is one thing this book does particularly well it is demonstrate to the reader the personality and approach of the author. It was no great surprise to me upon finishing the book to find out that the author was a longtime salesman. Throughout this book the author spends a great deal of time trying to sell the reader on the practice of mustard seed faith by trying to argue his insights into the expansive growth of the mustard tree in the Middle East (in stark contrast to the more modest varieties we have in the Western hemisphere). By and large this is not a book of great intellectual sophistication–the most sophistication that is shown are the quotes that begin each chapter which may (or may not) show the author’s reading to be something impressive. For the most part the author is a plainspoken man who spends a lot of time trying to explain what is and what is not his purpose and how his mainstream Christian views would still be useful to those who are leery of calling themselves Christians, and it can be endearing to see the author’s self-exposure of his life and opinions about himself throughout this book.
The book’s contents as a whole can be divided into four sections and twelve chapters. After an introduction, the author begins the work with a discussion of the need to think differently given the crisis of contemporary life (I), with chapters on our troubled times and the need for radical ideas (1), the change that radical ideas can have throughout history (2), and a call for moral imagination to see how different things could be (3). After that the author introduces the titular parable of the book (II) with a discussion of mustard seed faith (4) and how such tiny seeds (5) can produce such large trees (6). After that the author discusses the idea of issue of growing and moving (III) by talking about how small faith can (7), with proper daily nurturing and practice (8), lead to mountain-moving results (9). The final part of this book discusses working and changing (IV), by which one starts with one’s current reality (10), builds a bridge (11), and reaches an incomprehensible future (12). The author then concludes with a discussion of his real reason for writing the book (i) and an especially apologetic relation of himself as a Christian (ii) before the concluding materials include acknowledgements, information about the author, and an invitation to read more material the author has written on his website.
If the author seems as someone who is overly modest and bending over backward not to offend as a Christian, this book is powerful if unpleasant evidence of the difficulties that people feel as believers to write about faith and love and their practice in a world that shows all too little of either without causing offense to their particular audience. If the author fancied that he was writing to other believers he would probably have written this book differently, with more detailed scriptural exegesis and less disclaimers about what he was not trying to accomplish with the book so as to avoid triggering the delicate sensitivities of the potentially anti-religious reader. If one wishes that the author were more bold and more brave in presenting Christianity, and if some readers will have different views about how one builds a bridge to potentially unfriendly audiences, there is no question that the author was working very hard here to avoid offending the sensibilities of those who might take issue with his Christian identity (to say nothing of the other aspects of his identity). And if it seems a bit too milquetoast for me, the desire to avoid causing offense is itself not unworthy to be praised in times like our own.