Thinking Out Loud

April 14, 2009

The Traveler’s Gift: A Gift to Our Economic Climate

travelers-giftAlthough written in 2002, The Traveler’s Gift by Andy Andrews begins with a story that seems to be pulled from last week’s evening newscasts.    The man in the story is unemployed, their daughter needs surgery, they’re not covered by a medical plan.    This story seems so much more 2008-2009.    Is that prophetic?

Also, although written in 2002, the book bears a resemblance to last year’s Christian bestseller, where again, a fictional premise is used as a premise to introduce a large quantity of teaching; what could be termed Socratic dialog.  In other words, this is a self-help book written as fiction, and as such very similar to David Gregory’s Dinner With a Perfect Stranger.

And like the Gregory title, this book is a prime prospect for men — both in terms of length and content — a characteristic probably shared with the new Andy Andrews book The Noticer, releasing at the end of the month.

The book revolves around David Ponder, a husband and father who finds himself as a traveler on a time-travel adventure which includes seven stops.   Each one involves interaction with a historical character who teaches him one of seven principles.    Unfortunately for my British, Australian and Canadian readers, I have to mention that three of these are figures from American history.   Perhaps that was unavoidable, or maybe it’s just my need to reconcile with the fact that the Christian book market is the U.S. market.

The principles are good, solid, self-help principles that you can expect to find in the psychology section of any bookstore.    They are however, not solely Christian principles, to the point where it begs the question, ‘Is this a Christian book at all?’   (Those with longer memories will sense the echo of the question from the ’70s and ’80s, ‘What makes a CD or a cassette Christian?’)

The result reminds me of what one might come to expect from a book by Robert Schuller — either Jr. or Sr. — and certainly those who criticize the lack of Christology in some Christian publishing would have sufficient ammunition with this title, should it ever cross their path at all.

I read it in preparation for reviewing The Noticer, which a number of bloggers are all reviewing on the same day, April 27th.   That book just arrived yesterday.    It will be interesting to see if the Christian connection or Biblical connection in that title, published some seven years later, is more or less apparent.

If you know someone for whom the present economy has truly taken the wind out of their sails, this is a good bet.    If you’re looking for something that takes an albeit contrived fictional premise and uses it to stimulate theological thought, then consider the David Gregory title or that bestseller from the last year that everybody’s talking about.

Note: If we mention that “other book” by name, it will be picked up in the web crawl, and so strong are opinions on it that we’ll have to close comments on this post. So we just didn’t mention it.

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