Sometimes you forget how strange the Christian subculture can be. The Amish Romance genre is alive and well. Some Christians think NFL scouts are persecuting Tim Tebow because they believe he has a poor throwing motion. What do we do with these phenomena? Stephen Altrogge wades into the discussion with his new book The Inmates are Running the Asylum: Thoughts On Following Jesus, Amish Romance, the Daniel Plan, the Tebow Effect, and the Odds of Finding Your Soul Mate. From here on out I will refer to the book as a collection of essays because that best describes it. The chapters are not connected to each other and there is not an overarching thesis he is arguing for. Do not take this as a criticism because I love this genre. Each essay can be read in ten to fifteen minutes and Stephen’s writing style is enjoyable, humorous, and thought-provoking.
Stephen accomplishes a couple of good things in these essays. He forces us to stop and think about things. American evangelicals buy into trends and fads with great zeal. Unfortunately our zeal is rarely accompanied by biblical, theological, practical, or moral reasoning and thought. Stephen takes issues people are talking about, like Tim Tebow, takes a step back, and reasons through the situation without misguided passion or hype. This will sound strange, but Stephen works through these with a dose of sanity, but if you read the internet and social media you know sanity is exactly what we need.
Stephen also connects everything to the Gospel. This message of how God changes the lives or sinners through the work of Jesus Christ is what every single one of us need to hear. Too often we assume this message should be proclaimed to those who are not Christians and people who are already Christian’s don’t need it. Nothing could be further from the truth, as Christians stand in daily need of this message to continually transform us and give us hope. Stephen accomplishes this not by “Jesus-juking” us, but by stepping back and assessing issues in light of the Gospel’s message.
The Inmates are Running the Asylum makes for great reading when you don’t have a lot of time to read. Work through one of the short essays during a work break or to wind down before you go to bed. You will laugh, think, and find yourself refreshed by the message of the Gospel.
You can read more book reviews and notes here.
(I received a copy of this work from the author in exchange for an honest review.)