Thinking Out Loud

March 9, 2010

The Evangelical Lent Experience

My first communication after joining the Tyndale Blogger Network — you’d think they would have avoided the TBN acronym — wasn’t so much a book to critique as an offer to help them clear out inventory of a $2.99(US) booklet, Devotions for Lent, which they provided to stores in 10-packs, and offered to ship out to reviewers in the same configuration for giveaway purposes rather than review.

I took them up on this because the thought of the very-Evangelical Tyndale House engaging the very-Mainline Protestant concept of Lent piqued my curiosity.    I expected them to use the opportunity to introduce what a few Evangelicals might have to speak to this period leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and also to infuse readings from their popular NLT (New Living Translation) with which non-Evangelicals would be less familiar.

“This is a win-win;” I said to myself, “And I want to see what it looks like.”

It turned out not to be daily readings, which is what I have been accustomed to seeing in a Lent devotional.    Rather, there was a collection of material for each of the six weeks of Lent, consisting of an introduction, a scripture reading, a classical devotional thought, and a contemporary thought taken from Mosaic edition of the NLT.   (Check out HolyBibleMosaic.com)  This version is also available as an iPhone app.    The scripture readings, referenced only in the weekly collection, are reiterated in a full text presentation in the second half of the 80-page booklet.

There is plenty of material here and I don’t want to minimize it by suggesting that these are only weekly readings; there is enough to break up the material and suggested scriptures over a number of days, perhaps Monday thru Thursday, for example.

But my problem in digging in deeper — aside from the fact that the season of Lent is now one-third passed — was the tiny type size used in the production of this resource.  Even with my seldom-used reading glasses it was a strain.   I had to ask myself if perhaps this was why these booklets were being so freely given away at this point.   Worse was the italicized typeface with the distracting flourishes on certain letters.   The writing of John Cassian — a writer with whom I was not familiar — had the word “Egypt” written next to his name, and I wondered if perhaps this was a clue that the reading was typeset in hieroglyphics.

I don’t mean to be over-critical, but sometimes it’s “the little foxes that spoil the vines” and the small details which can undermine a great resource concept. I hope Tyndale takes another run at this in the period leading up to Easter 2011.

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