Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Review of Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor by D.A. Carson

Author: D.A. Carson

Pages: 160 pages

Publisher: Crossway

Price: $11.19

Genre: Christian Biography

Quick Summary:

You have probably heard of Don (D.A.) Carson. Most Americans have probably never heard of Tom Carson (Don’s dad). Tom was an “ordinary” pastor to French speaking Canada. His son has taken his letters, journals, and other manuscripts and has turned them into a mighty gift to the church.

Throughout this book we learn of Tom’s life and struggles as a common pastor. We are allowed to enter into the world of a pastor struggling with discouragement, depression, and feelings of worthlessness. We see the joys of laboring for Christ mixed with the brokenness of a fallen perfectionist. We see a loving father and husband that are always striving to be better. We witness the pain of Alzheimer’s and death of a cherished spouse and life-long partner in the gospel. From the highs through the lows this book is shockingly real.

What I Liked:

I had to hold back tears when D.A. Carson’s “mum” died. Perhaps, it through me back to witnessing my own grandfather by the bedside of my grandmother. Nevertheless, such emotion for someone that I had never met or even heard of is a testimony to Carson’s vivid writing style and compilation of his father’s journals. It is easy for a rural youth pastor like me (even though only 27) to identify with some of the feelings of Tom Carson. It is also wonderful that Carson interjects biblical wisdom throughout these journals.

Carson also, wisely, provides us American readers with some Canadian church history to help tell the story. That is helpful otherwise I would have been totally lost.

What I Disliked:

There is really nothing that I can honestly say I disliked. There are two things that make it somewhat difficult to read, but those are common in a book of this sort. One, it is sometimes difficult to place yourself in a situation when you have little knowledge of the environment. Carson makes a wonderful attempt at making us Americans at least moderately adept at understanding the French Canadian environment. Two, many biographies do this and it’s a good thing, but it makes it difficult to read letters when people are referred to by initials. It just gets confusing. Almost all memoirs are this way, I just wish they weren’t. I’d prefer a “names were changed to protect the innocent” type of thing.

Should You Buy It?

If you absolutely have to have a hard copy then yes. You need to read this book. You can read it online for free by going here. Or you can buy it for 11.19. There are some things in the book that are worthy of underlining or keeping on file for further reflection. You may want to go ahead and purchase it, but if money is tight you need to at least read the free copy (I read it in about 6 hours).

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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