SCOT BELLAVIA: Judging A Book By Its Insides

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Probably there’s something off about my view of evangelism that compels me to make public comment each time I interact with a culturally hot topic. I’m supposed to meet people where they are. And something about the ratio of my ears to mouth, I’m told, means I should be talking half as much as I listen. At that, the talking I do should be all questions – no statements.

So, I read ‘White Fragility’ by Robin DiAngelo and ‘Untamed’ by Glennon Doyle to see how the other half lives. I wanted to understand others better so I could engage them fully informed rather than going off hearsays.

Others still, those that told me why I could judge these books by their covers, singled them out as representatives of the Left. ‘White Fragility’ was supposedly the Bible for critical race theorists and ‘Untamed’ the hymnal of the LGBTQ community. No right-thinking person should be able to agree with a single sentence in these.

But I opened the books with an open mind, expecting to disagree and endeavoring to gain a fuller picture of the racial and homosexual cultural conversations.

With both books, I had to self-assess periodically to ensure I wasn’t reading it to further entrench my side or theirs. I also had to confirm that I wasn’t trying to finish just so I could write a brilliant retort. I started, then stopped, taking notes of all the things with which I disagreed. Though I quasi-concurred with some points in both, my disagreement with the main theses ultimately lay in opposing presuppositions.

So, rather than taking issue with the particulars, I analyzed the books’ argumentation style and the authors’ touted talent. I found both to be lacking and the theses remained unpersuasive. I began to wonder if people actually bought into their messages.

I soon learned that the two books aren’t embraced by all of the other half – even if they are mandated in faraway states’ school curriculums. And once I posted my reviews, I found that little of my audience had heard of either book. Perhaps the books weren’t as dangerous as I thought. But, a quarter-million reviews on Goodreads.com rated ‘Untamed’ 4.03 stars and ‘White Fragility’ earned 4.21 stars among a readership equal to the population of the city of Hampton, Virginia.

The books are nothing to sneeze at but their potential to devastate society as we know it may be overstated.

Once I read their insides, I couldn’t not comment on them. Another interesting ratio is the one between my fingers and my ears that drives me to write five times as eagerly as I listen. The criticism I had heard was deserved but now I could say for myself why I disagreed.

Here’s why:

‘White Fragility’ Review

‘Untamed’ Review

– Scot Bellavia