I am a book reviewer for NetGalley, which means I received this book for free in exchange for a review. Click here for more information.
Author: Kori de Leon
Genre/category: Christian life
Release date: 3rd April 2018
I’m having a tough time reviewing this one.
The main goal of this book is to help you to focus on the life that is to come – to focus on the Kingdom of God and how the hope of our future with Him can change our lives now. De Leon uses the image of King, Crown and Kingdom to summarize this.
On the one hand: what an interesting idea for a book. I’ve never read anything like this before, that focuses so specifically on Heaven and what is to come next, and how dwelling upon that can actively change our lives now. De Leon speaks a lot about scriptural meditation, and offers a lot of useful prompts for this.
I liked that. It helped me to see my faith and how it impacts my entire life with fresh eyes.
I had a few niggling things that I disagreed with theologically, but I won’t go into those now. I allow disagreement in small, non-vital parts of theology to wash over me a little bit. It’s nice to read other people’s opinions, and it’s healthy to test my own against them. It would be unfair of me to mark down a book based on that. However, there’s a small part of the book that troubles me, concerning suffering. De Leon references a line in scripture, Luke 8:13, and suggests that failure to move forward during challenging times can be a sign of an unbeliever.
I do see what she’s trying to say here – that as Christians we should turn to God at all times and try and move forward with Him – but it just came across as a little callous. I know plenty of Christians who have struggled with the same issues – depression and anxiety are two that immediately spring to mind, as well as people who are grieving – for years. If I was in that position, struggling to come to grips with something that I’m really wrestling with and then I came across that part of the book, I’d probably be quite upset by it. God does not immediately pull His people out of suffering, whether those sufferings be large or small. People just suffer sometimes. And to give the pressure of ‘well, if you’re not over this already then maybe you’re not a real believer’ just felt a bit callous. I feel if you’re going to use that scripture in that way, then explore the concept, and the topic, in much greater detail in order to make your message clear. It’s this part of the book – admittedly a small part – that would make me hesitant to recommend it to people.
(If you are a Christian suffering something and experiencing unanswered prayer, I’d suggest you read God on Mute by Pete Grieg. It is just awesome, reassuring and challenging at the same time.)
Also, the book felt a bit confused at times. It’s primarily about meditating upon scripture, and gives excellent examples for things to meditate upon, but doesn’t give any practical advice on how to actually sit down and meditate (A Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster covers this and is a generally excellent and challenging book so again, if you’re interested, go check that out). Also, Age of Crowns appears to be aimed at seasoned Christians, given the depth of the ‘churchy language’ used, but occasionally offers people the chance to get to know Jesus for the first time. I probably wouldn’t give this to a non Christian to read. It would just be too heavy and confusing. I feel like a little bit of editing and a small section on how to meditate as a Christian would probably have sorted out these problems.
Having said that, De Leon covers quite a lot of ground in this book and there are some good nuggets of wisdom in there, including the idea that our minds are fuller than ever but our souls are malnourished, and the importance of being bold in believing good things are ahead of us.
Mixed feelings, then, but I came away from it feeling challenged and pondering whether or not I dwell upon the Kingdom of God enough, so it definitely achieved its aims in that respect.
I think I would have given it three stars, but the suffering thing and the confusion about who it was aimed at knocked it down a bit. Maybe it’s closer to 2.5 stars than 2, but this will have to do: