Monday, March 16, 2020

Adorning the Dark

I'm back from 4 months of off-and-on travels inside of 6 months of somewhat chaotic fluctuations.  Packing, "Adorning the Dark" by Andrew Peterson, along to doctor's appointments, hospital visits and plane rides was to be the corner of peace and encouragement this on-pause writer's heart needed. At it's start my pencil found many passages to highlight... encouragement from a man who has spent his life in the music and writing industry.  However, it also had its daunting moments.

Truth be told: I had never heard of Andrew Peterson before obtaining this book. I requested it because, as a creative myself, I thought I might be able to find hope and encouragement in its pages. I did a quick YouTube search in order to ascertain details on the author and grab a better grounding as I dove in. 

His writing felt personal and conversational yet I also felt like I should know something of various references he would casually make and therefore, at times, I felt like a bit of an outsider. I began to realize, while some nuggets may be personally edifying, much of his sharing would perhaps find deeper inspiration in a seasoned fan or musician. 

None-the-less, I plugged on, finding encouragement and relativity through those self-defeatist ideas the Enemy is so good at planting in my mind.  It is always wonderful to 'meet' someone who share their troubles so explicitly that you can say, "YES! Me too!!", a sentiment I felt often enough through the first quarter of the book to drive me through any marshyness.

Rounding the first quarter, though, I was becoming more and more aware of an odd mix of biblical and secular awareness.  Just as I wondered if and where he drew strength from the Spirit because the writing seemed so focused on the world, he would pop out a powerful side-note of how God truly is the center of a creative's work.

Again, I would push on.  After all, aren't we all just mere mortals? Then, I hit just past the halfway point at 35,000 feet over the Southeastern United States, ironically Mr. Peterson's stomping ground, and suddenly I was gaping.

You see, growing up, I always had an obsession with music.  Both construction and lyric, I am very passionate about understanding the messages we hear.  Some people just hear tune and words... but not me.  I always here message and metric.  Words matter and, as a Christian, if I had to choose; words matter more than melody.

Biblically speaking, I could quote rows of verses, but the most common one is probably the hardest one for us humans... the "whatever is's"...

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things

As he shared the importance of discernment, ironically, he expounded using a story of mentoring his musically gifted daughter and how all his teaching came full circle when she received a Christian Kids Bop CD to which he cringed as it played... and then was relieved when she identified its poor musical quality and asked that it be turned off and replaced with a specific secular artist. His proud papa moment was acknowledging how a bit of snobbery in music was good because, "it is better to listen to a great song by someone who wasn't a Christian than a bad song by someone who was..."

I disagree.

Suddenly vague references earlier in the pages began to rise above grace.  In a world where Christianity constantly wars with secular... where spiritual warfare is very real and very weakening... where young people, like I was, take lyrics to heart and let them sing the melody of mood and decision... I couldn't understand WHY he would encourage a young girl to gravitate towards such messages all for the sake of melody.  Yes, there is bad music written by Christians but the lyrics will always keep our eyes heavenward. Besides, there is also great Christian music which could rival any secular band... if it was only given the chance.

After this point in the book, the shaky respect I had, began to full-on crumble.  I couldn't bring myself to burn the time required for the remaining chapters when a quick skim told me it was only going to get worse.

I don't like having to give a book a bad review.  As a writer, I know how much passion is poured into the pages of any installment.  I can say Mr Peterson gave his all and, from a certain standpoint, he did produce an encouraging memoir.  However, as a Christian reviewer, my bar is always set on a few simple marks:
  • Does this book spiritually encourage it's reader
  • Is this book Biblically sound
  • Does this book cause the reader to draw closer to Christ and choose more Godly actions
  • Are the prose well written.
  • Is the book well organized.
  • Is the writer engaging.
  • Is the material relatable and accessible.

Sadly the marks were not met by "Adorning the Dark".

Do you have criteria for the books you read?


I received a complimentary copy of this book from Lifeway in exchange for my review. This review is my opinion alone.

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