Book Review: The Butterfly Effect
Unless you’ve lived a very sheltered life, you’ve heard of the phenomenon known as The Butterfly Effect. The Butterfly Effect happens when on one side of the world, a butterfly flaps his wings, which moves molecules of air, which moves more molecules of air, and eventually so many molecules of air are moved that some of them end up being in a movie with Kevin Bacon.
Oh wait, my mistake: that’s called The Seven Degrees of Stupid Party Games. Never mind.
So megaauthor Andy Andrews’ latest book has that title (not the Party Games title, the other one. Pay attention.). Andrews starts with the questions, “Do I make a difference?” “Do I really matter?” and then goes on to tell some highly entertaining Paul Harveyish stories about two historical characters that basically changed life as we know it and gave us great freedoms as Americans and made it possible for Molly Ringwald to make a career comeback in The Secret Life of An American Teenager, decades after it tanked because of her three degree separation from Kevin Bacon.
And while the two historical stories are fascinating and probably worth the price of the book (free for me…see below), it’s the story surrounding the story that makes me wince.
Andrews finishes the book by stating that “On the planet Earth, there has never been one like you…and there never will be again” (true), “The rarities that make you special are no mere accident or quirk of fate” (true), “You have been created in order that you might make a difference” (true), “You have within you the power to change the world” (tru- wait, what?).
In one sentence, Andrews loses a magnificent opportunity to tie our lives to something larger. While he spends an entire book crafting an argument that we’re not islands unto ourselves and that everything we do “matters forever,” he fails to take into account that God is the author of our lives and the gospel is central to tying our lives to a greater purpose.
Let me be clear: I don’t fault Andrews for this, necessarily. He’s built his career on being a motivational speaker and author. He’s an author who happens to be a believer, not the other way around. While he speaks at many faith-related events, I don’t think he has a fish on his business card, and I don’t have a problem with that.
What bothers me is the continual push of faith-based publishers to market best-sellers with no tie in to the gospel. It’s church lite in most cases, with feel-good, toe-tickling messages that seem to exist to sell product and all of the related tie ins (“Butterfly Effect koozie? Coming right up!”). While I don’t necessarily expect more from most mainline faith-based publishers, it would be nice to see a better representation of a gospel foundation to a book such as this.
The book is great. And yes, our life matters. But I, for one, want to matter not because of the legacy I leave, but because of the impact of the kingdom on the world around me.
The fine print: this book was provided free to me by Booksneeze.com’s book review bloggers program. I’m disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations and so that large men with black dogs don’t break down my door in the middle of the night.