Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers

In his non-fiction title, The Vertical Self, Sayers explains how culture has moved us away from who God wants us to be and turned us towards a self-absorbed lifestyle. He calls this way of life “horizontal” and claims we need to be “vertical.” A horizontal self looks to those on the same level as him/her for self-image. A vertical self looks to a higher being, God, for identity. Sayers states his case for how far society has moved away from looking to God for our purpose and identity.

This book is not light reading and some sections are difficult to wade through. I felt like Sayers had numerous examples, stories and situations to defend his theory of society being horizontal to the point that it was doom and gloom. There was not enough teaching, encouraging and support for the vertical self theory to balance the book. Chapter after chapter explained what we are doing wrong and why it’s wrong but, there were few pages leading me to the better alternative or convincing me I need the better way. The majority of the book told me I need fixing rather than telling me how to fix myself.
The Vertical Self has a somewhat narrow target audience. First, the audience must be Christian otherwise it could be quite offensive. Second, the reader must open him/herself to the negative description of Christians today who live a horizontally. That said, The Vertical Self would be a good resource for youth and young adult leaders. It would, also, make a useful tool for new and young Christians as they discern how being a Christian looks and feels in everyday life.

Sayers is convicted and passionate about people needing to alter their thinking in order to live vertically. I commend Sayers for his enthusiasm and zeal regarding the subject and I believe his theories are worth consideration.

I received a complimentary copy of The Vertical Self from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a participant in their BookSneeze.com book review blogger program.

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