Monday, March 5, 2012

"Every Body Matters" (Gary Thomas)

TITLE: Every Body Matters: Strengthening Your Body to Strengthen Your Soul
AUTHOR: Gary Thomas
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011, (256 pages).

Keeping fit and bodily exercise is a legitimate and necessary spiritual discipline. This is the big idea that wraps the whole book together. In this important book, Thomas meticulously argues for the place of physical exercise disciplines in a world where people tend to eat more and exercise less. Having participated in the Boston marathon a few years ago, the author is writing from a deeply personal experience, which in a way communicates to those of us who gravitate toward couch potato lifestyles of a high-calorie and low exercise diet.

What makes this book special is the way Thomas infuses spiritual disciplines with a call daily exercises. He weaves theological underpinnings behind each exhortation to get physical. He underlines the dangers of sloth. He warns about the bad testimonies Christians unwittingly display. Strong faith is not exactly coherent with unhealthy physical bodies. In fact, a healthy body does good, and even more for one's spiritual health. In order to cultivate 'souls of silver' which is better than gold, physical fitness is a must.

Thomas argues against spiritual laziness that comes across as physical wimpiness. He argues for an active physical lifestyle that not only saves us money in the long run, it helps us live better as we age. He argues for making friends with 'Morty' in terms of learning to attack (mortify) sin rather than wait for sin to ambush us. A 300-Ib pastor, or believer will be an embarrassment rather than a testimony.

What I appreciate about this book is the holistic treatment Thomas has thoughtfully given. He never dichotomizes spirituality from the physical, unlike the gnostics. He shares from the rich reserviours of spirituality gleaned from the desert fathers, the church fathers, and contemporary theologians.  He puts himself as a prime example of what not to do, like his early years of indulging in sweet stuff to the point that he develops an embarrassing weight problem. Arguing for a 'muscular Christianity,' this book essentially challenges all believers to develop muscles that can lift heavy weights for God, not fat that drags down people's energy levels. The title is cleverly done, suggesting a double meaning that is both true: 1) Our physical bodies matter,; 2) Every individual matters.

This book is vital for the Church today. I believe that it is so good that it should not be placed under the religious or self-help sections of bookstores. Apart from spirituality, it needs to be in the sports section, the medical section, as well as the physical fitness sections.

Ratings: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Zondervan without any obligation for a positive review. The opinions offered above are given by me freely.

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