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Book Review of Enough About Me by Jen Oshman

Book Review of Enough About Me by Jen Oshman

Enough About Me challenges women to look away from themselves in order to find the abundant life God offers. 

Every now and again I pick up a book whose theme hits me between the eyes. Enough about Me: Finding Lasting Joy in the Age of Self certainly did that. From beginning to end, I was left in no doubt that its message was a powerful and timely one.

Jen Oshman starts by painting a compelling picture of our Western world view, pointing out how much of it runs contrary to the gospel message. She spends the book challenging it (and us) and pointing the reader back to God, the only true source of lasting joy.

She contends that we don’t have to look very far to see the increasing emphasis that society has placed upon the self. It truly is a ‘selfie culture’ with self-help, self-reliance, self-belief and self-fulfilment among its dominant themes. Addressing her topic to women (although it surely has universal relevance) Oshman refers to the super-woman mentality, of girl power, the belief that we can rule our own worlds; but, as she says with some emphasis, ‘being self-made women is wearing us out’. In simple terms, the girls are getting tired.

More insidious of all, she continues, has been the downward slide from relying on self to ‘deifying self’, seeing self as all-sufficient and thereby removing the need for God. We haven’t noticed its stealthy approach; but the evidence is all around us, and it’s in the church as much as the streets and workplaces.

Oshman bases the inspiration and structure of her book on Colossians 2: 6-7. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as LORD, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Time and again she refers the reader back to these truths: that we should be rooted in the gospel, have our minds renewed by the gospel and be transformed by the gospel.

Without this sense of rootedness, there is the danger that we will turn from God-centred faith to mecentred faith. Before we know it, we are reading the Bible in order to get a word for ‘me and my situation’. We have changed Christian discipleship into self-help. Even our worship songs too often have me at the centre. In short, our focus is skewed, and the call of Jesus to ‘take up our cross and deny ourselves’ has been lost in the replacement belief that God just wants us to be happy and successful. This for me was the most personally challenging section of the book, pointing out where I had allowed subtle shifts in my thinking and practice.

In pointing us Godward, Oshman also takes care to highlight that for many of us our God is too small. We have moulded Him into our own image, superimposing onto Him our own sense of what is important. With ‘me’ at the centre of faith, God exists only to meet our needs and ensure our happiness. We want the blessing and the rubber-stamping of our desires, but not the challenge. Having a safe, small god (Oshman uses the lower-case g here) demands only a weak, meagre faith and produces a doable, manageable calling. We might call it freedom, but actually we have locked ourselves into a petty-minded version of Christianity. Instead, she contends, we should be placing our lives in the hands of a ‘Big God who is able’, which demands robust faith and a willingness to deny self. When self runs out, God is there – and He is more than enough.

Oshman refers several times in the book to the song of the Siren, those characters of Greek myth who sang to lure sailors to their deaths on the rocks. She calls self the Siren that promises lasting joy while all the time guaranteeing that we won’t find it – even when we look in the world’s happiest places. The song of the Siren is compelling and insistent, drawing us in, but we must resist it and instead listen for the voice of God.

I heartily recommend this book that offers the wake-up call that so many of us need to hear. In the days of the early church, Paul urged the people under his care not to compromise their faith or be swept away by current thinking – however attractive – but to hold unswervingly to the true faith. It’s a reminder that generation after generation need to hear, and Oshman has said it well in this book.

Jen Oshman

 

Book review by Jane Clamp

Jane Clamp is the author of Too Soon published by SPCK. She is Creative Writer in Residence on the Sunday Breakfast Show of BBC Radio Norfolk, and on the Thought for the Day team at Premier Radio and serves as a committee member for the Association of Christiaan Writers

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Enough about Me (Paperback)
Jen Oshman
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