There are several words that come readily to mind that describe Drew Dyck’s new book, Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying. Theological is the first. Dyck has essentially written a theology book on the nature or attributes of God. Accessible is the second. Just because it is theology doesn’t mean it is hard to read. Dyck has done a very good job by writing the book in a way that just about everyone from age 12 on up could understand. Corrective is third word that comes to mind. I think this is one of Dyck’s major goals. He wants to correct the over-emphasis of “God is our buddy” or “Jesus is my homeboy” theology that has become the norm in many evangelical churches. One more word comes to mind to describe the book: Balanced. Dyck draws from all points on the theological spectrum–Calvinist, Arminian, Catholic, Protestant, ancient, modern, young, and older. This broad approach indicates that he is firmly in the realm of serious theological thought and is not an ideologue.
The book is laid out in two parts. The first part, “Tiger Territory” is about the more difficult and distant attributes of God such as his transcendence, holiness, and even absence. The second part, “Divine Embrace” is the more devotional side of the book, highlighting God’s nearness, the incarnation, and our need to model God’s love in the world. The main text comes in at a fast paced 172 pages plus a well thought-out discussion guide of 20 more pages.
Without spoiling too much, there were three highlights for me in the book. The first was his use of an amazing story of a man who infiltrates brothels in order to stop child-sex trafficking. This has been a very important subject for me of late because that is the backdrop of my new novel. The second was Dyck’s discussion of Mama Maggie, a Coptic Christian who spoke at a Willow Creek conference. I don’t want to give anything away, but for my two cents worth (okay, it was more like my $15 worth, plus shipping and handling) that chapter alone (chapter 12) was worth the price of the whole book. Finally, I loved the way he described his family as nomadic and emphasized their own struggle with finding a faith community that worked for them. I get that, and something about it connects with me.
At times this book reminded me of a Philip Yancey book, and at times it felt like Calvin Miller’s Into the Depths of God. At other times I thought I was reading an updated Tozer. These are all compliments, for Dyck has done a tremendous thing in pulling together the best themes from our literature and putting them together in one really accessible volume. This book would be wonderful for a small group to work through or for an individual to use as a devotional guide.
There are only two things I didn’t like. I didn’t like the title. My guess is that the marketing department over at Nelson Books picked that one. The metaphor works at the opening of the book, but really doesn’t carry throughout. The second thing I didn’t like is that he took shots at Anne Lamott. As a writer, I greatly admire her and I think Bird by Bird should be required reading for every first year college student. Neither one of these, though are serious flaws. I suspect we can work through our disagreement about Lamott and book titles.
I highly recommend Yawning at Tigers without reservation.
images from amazon.com