Right from the opening few paragraphs ‘The Map – The Way of All Great Men’ by David Murrow grabs your attention and takes you on a literary rollercoaster ride. Written in a similar style to a Dan Brown novel the pace is fast, the story full of apparent intrigue and mystery, and the writing direct and easy to read – and, I have to say, nothing like any other Christian book I have ever read to date!
But this is the appeal of the book. It has a different concept and delivery, the first half of the book is fiction, the telling of a story that is used as an illustration for the non-fiction second half of the book where Murrow gets serious with some inspirational teaching and encouragement.
And, overall, it mainly worked, for me at least.
The story is simple.
David Murrow, the writer and main character, wakes up in a barn, somewhere in the middle of Greece, having travelled half way across the world from his home in Alaska to find a map that supposedly holds the key as to why men are leaving the contemporary church across America and the rest of the Western world. Can he find this mysterious map before it is to late, and then do what he does best, write a book so that all can see and understand why this strange phenomenon is occurring.
We then find out that this story is in fact a fiction, which is used as the background for the teaching elements in the second half of the book, where Murrow outlines his thoughts about why men are losing interested in their ongoing faith and spirituality?
His conclusion is stark and direct – the church has become too feminine and female orientated. Men as a result don’t find what they need and so leave to find fulfilment elsewhere.
Where does the map come in? Well the map, according to Murrow, is the ancient map of manhood found hidden in the gospel of Matthew. This map needs to be understood and taught to men in church so that they can recognise that they can grow to be spiritual giants and yet still retain their masculinity, getting the right balance between what Murrow calls the feminine trait of submission and sacrifice with the masculine trait of strength.
This is all well and good, but I can’t help but feel that Murrow ends up describing the path of discipleship for all Christians not just men. Yes, I can understand where he is coming from, but after a while his insistence on submission and sacrifice being girly and feminine, and strength being ladish and masculine rubs a bit, and to be honest, gets a bit patronising and, dare I say it, chauvinistic.
For me, in the end, it was a good book on discipleship spoiled . Too much emphasis was put on the differences between men and women and the need for men to come to terms with their ‘feminine’ side and characteristics – and I don’t think it was necessary! Murrow could have got the same message across without it and instead could have focussed on the need for all in the church to become disciples – mastering submission, strength and sacrifice as part of their walk of faith together.
Having said all that, I really enjoyed reading the book and agree wholeheartedly with the substance if not the detail.
I would recommend this book to everyone – not just men, because there is a lot of truth in it that we all need to learn. The first half of the book is a brilliant story and one that will appeal to most readers of contemporary ‘pulp’ fiction. The second half, however, for me, should be read carefully and thoughtfully, and with 1 Thessalonians 5: 21 in mind, “Test everything. Hold onto what is good”. There is a lot of good to hold onto, but unfortunately, at times, how it is framed can be a little annoying.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the US Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”