Thursday, April 28, 2011

To Be Perfectly Honest: One Man’s Year of Almost Living Truthfully Could Change Your Life. No Lie by Phil Callaway

Phil Callaway in To Be Perfectly Honest documents a year of his life and his attempt to avoid lying. The book is a journal of his life for a year, day by day, in his attempt to live entirely truthfully. He records his daily happenings and feelings about the activities of his days. He is “honest” with his readers on his views of faith, relationships and Pac-Man. The journal is a chronicle of a year in which Callaway interacted with Christians and non-Christians, dealt with financial scams, and experienced the death of his mother. At the end of each chapter Callaway presents an honest confession based on his observations for the last month. The book concludes with a discussion guide for use with small groups.

When I agreed to review this book, I was looking for something different than what I typically read. I honestly was trying to seek out a humorous book. And Callaway has plenty of amusing stories and observations, though I honestly, okay I’m going to use honest and truth as much as possible in this review, never had a full out belly laugh. Callaway is very truthful with his reader about how situations made him feel and his opinions on what occurred. He does not hide that he would rather be playing and reaching new high scores in Pac-Man instead of reading his Bible, as a good man of God should. He provides us honest impressions of his interactions with other Christians and how we have failed, he is a reformed Pharisee in his own words. So I do believe this is a very transparent reflection of a man of faith and provides us a window to Callaway’s mind a man honestly seeking to follow Jesus. However, I don’t believe it delivers as a summary of an experiment of truth. Callaway does mention his truth project, but he is not always 100% truthful. For example he has an email exchange with Nigerian scammers where he gives the impression that he wishes to participate in the scammers request. He provides an explanation of why this allowable, but he is not 100 percent truthful. Also when reading the summary of the book I was thinking of a text along the lines of A.J. Jacobs The Year of Living Biblically a book where Jacobs documents his own extreme social experiment. That book delivers due to Jacobs’ review of what his year did to him. It’s especially highly engaging since Jacobs is not a man of faith. Basically I was hoping there was a more in-depth explanation of what his experiment meant to him than the five pages provided from a position closer to my own worldview. I could have taken from this text the same lessons and reflections on a Christian life without the addition of a year of living in truth. And that’s my honest take on this book. I wouldn’t lie to you.

Review Copy Provided by WaterBrook Multnomah

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