Book-A-Month - December 2009 (#2)

Two books in a week... had last January started this way, I would have been done with my 2009 reading by Valentine's Day with room to spare. Sadly, not all books are as quick and interesting as Tom Brown's The Wormwood Archive. Tom is a local (to my in-laws) author writing a set of structured criticisms of his home church's rise to megachurch standing. This would probably be boring on its own, but Tom follows C.S. Lewis' epistolary style, and pens his thoughts as letters by or to Wormwood, as found in The Screwtape Letters.

Tom's church underwent a transformation into a megachurch over the course of a few years. The transformation seems to have followed the methods produced by the Willow Creek Association, shifting its focus from its traditional, family-focused roots toward more contemporary, performance-driven styles of worship aimed at younger, more casaul seekers. Tom's criticisms certainly are not the first of Willow Creek and their methods, but his hit a bit closer to home, having lived through the transition as a lay leader in a once happy, family-like congregation. Since Willow Creek's admission a couple of years ago that they might have done it wrong, the criticisms seem more poignant.

To me, however, Tom's criticisms of his fictionalized self are the most interesting part of the book. He characterizes his own weaknesses as possible in-roads for negative persuasion by "Wormwood" and his minions. This level of honesty and objectivity, while criticizing what has been your faith home for so many years, cannot have been the most trivial of tasks. There is a strong sense of humility, even within such an obviously critical work.

Overall, this was an excellent book, and even if you haven't read The Screwtape Letters, it's quite a good read.

Jan 1st, 2010