I have mentioned in previous blogs of how much I enjoy Audible. One of the added bonuses to such a monthly subscription is the rare occasion where they send you bonus downloads (typically around major holidays such as Thanksgiving or Christmas). Imagine my surprise when they gave me the option to download one selection from a variety of “relationship” books in honor of Valentine’s Day. Largely due to being unfamiliar with the great majority of such options, I decided to download Mark Manson’s The Nerd’s Guide to Being Confident. I was intrigued by this author because of his successful blogging resume as well as his reputation of being fairly funny.
He is indeed a talented writer. And obviously incredibly well-read and thought-filled when it pertains to a great amount of his experiences and ideas. But overall, I could not have been more disappointed with this book. The only saving grace might have been that the download credit came at no cost. Manson’s style can be quite crude and crass. His thinking very humanistic and self-centered. He is unnecessarily disrespectful and degrading especially towards the Christian Faith (an approach I often am able to stomach had it not been for his much softer approach to Eastern religions).
Here is my take on the author. Manson is much like a doctor who makes the correct diagnosis (I applaud his take on our younger generations struggling with victim-mindsets, etc.) and yet fails in his prescription (focusing far too much on comfort, pleasure, and tolerance). Much of his conclusions rest on the premise that truth after truth has been “proven” false over history’s time. Therefore, much of what we believe now will be confirmed to be more of the same. And yet, the author continues to encourage the reader to trust himself or herself as the ultimate authority of his or her own life.
With little or no respect shown towards the traditions or convictions of the past, Manson focuses far too much on happiness rather than health. Satisfaction over service. Liberty rather than responsibility.
That being said, from time to time, the author did scratch the surface of some things significant. But he just did not quite have the ability (or desire) to dig just a little bit deeper. For example, he speaks of “meta-awesomeness”. That strange capacity that some individuals have that allow them to actually celebrate their weaknesses. For example, the woman who is late for every meeting only to laugh off such inconsiderate behavior. Or the boyfriend who is verbally abusive only to always find a way to apologize for what he just can’t seem to control. We show sympathy towards such people – as long as they are self-aware (they know what they do) and vulnerable (they are not afraid to admit it).
But Manson stops there (though I know much of this chapter is written tongue-in-cheek). What about repentance and accountability? These people cannot help themselves. So who can? Will they actually not only admit their need for change but also show a willingness to do just that? And will we cease enabling them and instead doing whatever it takes to see them pursue health and wholeness?
There is a difference between Truth and truth. This short work is just one more example that large chasm. Some books are just not worth reading. Free or not.