Guest Review By Annie: Launch Out Into The Deep By Acacia Slaton Beumer

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Hello everyone, This will only be a quick introduction compared to my others because I'm in the middle of cooking or should I say burning. Anyways here's another guest review for you to enjoy, It's not a book or genre I've ever read so I was interested to read this. So well enjoy!

Review by Annie K. Johnson (a.k.a. “Chompasaurus”)

If you don’t know that this is a religious book, you will find out very quickly. The entire text of the book is saturated with religious language and citations from the Bible. Some of the essays are discussions on specific passages from the Bible, which adds to a kind of variety on the topics touched upon in the book. In the acknowledgements, the author writes “I would first like to give honor to my Lord and personal savior Jesus Christ.” I am not a religious book reviewer, so I am going to be as fair about this book as I can be for both religious and non-religious readers.

This book is better described as a series of opinion papers surrounding social topics and religion. The religion aspect of the book tends to be somewhat removed from the rest of the content. For most of the chapters, the author offers a short opinion article on some topic followed up a religious blurb and discussion questions, some of which have to do with religious texts. Each essay reads more like it was written stream-of-consciousness as there is little direction for each. The author would have benefitted from evaluating the true purpose of each essay and spending more time working on achieving that purpose. The author seems to have intended on making the essays inspirational, but fell flat in their execution. It seemed more like the author was listening to someone go on about social topics without going too much into detail and then occasionally remembering to draw in the reader. They were lacking in organization and central focus, but the technical ability of the author is there. You won’t find too many typos or grammatical errors, so the author is clearly capable of doing more.

One of the most important elements of writing an essay, opinion or otherwise, is the research or observations on which the essay is built upon. The essays were not very insightful in that they were based on opinions that have already been shown as inaccurate time and time again. “More and more people in Western society have a burning desire to become famous pop stars, rappers, models, or entertainers.” This would be more along the lines of what a modern social conservative would want to hear and less of what someone could actually learn from. Without research to back up the many claims and popular beliefs that the author writes, there isn’t much in the way of substance. Actually, the best part of each chapter would probably be the discussion questions, which read like something a Christian group might discuss together. The religious elements alone were more along the lines of something my religious family members would probably enjoy.

Anyone looking for a central purpose to this book wouldn’t be able to find one, which is why I explain that it’s a series of opinion papers rather than a self-help book or a critical examination of society. The author makes an attempt to connect with the reader, each reader, on a personal level by intermittently throwing out encouraging words, “Look at you! You are still standing, maybe not as sure and as confident as you’d like, but you’re a survivor.” That was nice, but it really didn’t do anything for the book.

The author makes some claims that are not based in anything and are hard to take seriously such as “Some have grown faint-hearted and weary, secretly desiring to free themselves.” That wasn’t a meaningful statement and there was no clarification as to what exactly that meant. There are several sentences like that which come across as filler that the author put in while thinking of the point she wanted to make. A lot of what the author writes seemed to be written more for an emotional impact rather than something that is actually researched or meaningful to any discussion of faith.

I personally found parts of the book to be outlandish, “Others [former christians] have strayed away and find it literally impossible to trust God because of their deep hurts and unforgettable shame.” The author paints a broad brush stroke of nonreligious people which begs the question of whether or not the author has actually ever had many meaningful discussions with nonreligious people. Other parts of the book were quite bizarre.

I found the entire Chapter 5 to be strange and unbelievable, but not in a good way. The chapter deals specifically with “sexual perversion” and makes a couple of good points about parents neglecting to tell their children the truth about sex, but the claims made about sexual activity are a bit misguided and clearly not researched. The author makes the claim that kids are less supervised than before and are thus turning to media to fill in the holes in their knowledge about sex. It’s hard to make that claim without any research to back it up and I find it hard to take any claims that an entire generation of children is growing up “latchkey” in a time when “work from home” parenting is becoming a much more prevalent trend. There are some contradictions where perhaps the author did not spend enough time hammering out a solid philosophy on certain subjects and the lack of internal validity shows in this chapter especially. The author comes out strong against sexual desire while also saying that sexual desire is natural and God-given. The chapter is odd and clearly needed to have more time spent on the thought process, research, and facts behind it, but I suppose a reader can see here the internal conflict that the author has on this particular topic. That’s really the only positive thing I can say about it.
Chapter 6 continues on with the topic of STDs and here there are a couple of citations which are inaccurate, namely that promiscuity leads to AIDS when it is usually drug abuse that leads to contracting HIV. The author also seems uncomfortable with breaking down HIV and AIDS or at least did not do so in this chapter, which indicates that more research should have been done before writing this essay. I think the effort to use research in this essay was a nice change from other essays, but it wasn’t enough to develop a more meaningful essay with a real and valid discussion. The way that the author writes about her personal experiences, it comes across as though she has experienced a lot but didn’t elaborate. The personal experiences could really enhance the discussions she brought up if the essay was planned out better, but instead came across as being thrown in as an afterthought.

Bottom line, non-religious people would likely not be interested in reading this book as there is very little to gain from it. There really isn’t much insight into religion or religious people, the text of the articles are just opinions that are fairly superficial and something that just about everyone has heard a million times already. I can’t say that this book was very thought-provoking as there weren’t any deep philosophical discussions and no research to support claims. The author would have done better to really explore thoughts, read up on social research, and outline specific points before setting out to write. It also helps to narrow the focus rather than trying to touch on every issue under the sun, which I think was the biggest problem with this book. The essays are still quite raw and haven’t been edited thoroughly, which could possibly appeal to some readers on a more personal level, but they fell short for me.
Synopsis: Have you ever just needed to step back and read something to inspire or challenge you? Not anything long, like a novel, but something more devotional in tone and poetic in language? This is precisely the type of book Acacia Slaton Beumer has given us in Launch Out into the Deep. A collection of poems (by Aaron L. Slaton) and devotional essays, illustrations and discussion questions, this devotional covers a wide range of topics relevant to men, women, and especially teenagers. -Josh Olds
Email me at: confessionsofabookaholic@LIVE.CO.UK

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