A few years ago, Frank’s family rented a house in Lancaster County for Thanksgiving. Apparently, this region of Pennsylvania is not only known for its Amish residents but also is the home of the smorgasbord. I have never been a huge fan of the buffet-style meal. I quickly become overwhelmed and end up getting just as much, if not less than what I would have if I had ordered an item off the menu. I’m more of a planned courses eater, with everything flowing naturally. Frank, on the other hand, loves a full buffet and all of its options. He knows how to pace himself and how to group foods by course so that he can enjoy the French toast, crepe bar, sushi, and steak all at the same meal. We don’t often eat at buffets, but when we do, Frank has learned to walk me through the experience so that I don’t miss anything.
In his newest book, Fifty Shades of They, Ed Young asks what kind of “they” is in your life. Is your community one that is uplifting and helps you along the journey or is it one that is harmful? Young works his way through fifty different scenarios and ideas, giving advice and reminding the reader to find community with like-minded, encouraging people.
While I appreciate the need for a deep community based on shared beliefs and experiences, the idea of grouping the world into the “right they” and the “wrong they” made me very uncomfortable. He does spend one chapter talking about the need for Christians to not just surround themselves with other Christians, but this was more in a conversion context rather than a relational context. Often we learn from and grow with people who may not look like the “right they.”
The style of this book is much like a buffet. Each chapter is 2-3 pages – a “sushi sized” bite – and gives a bit of advice about all sorts of relationships, from friendships to marriage. In some ways, I appreciated this format. Young is able to cover a lot of ground without needing to go too deep. Overall, though, I vacillated between feeling confused by a generalization that wasn’t explained and wanting to know more and for Young to expand on his ideas.
I feel like this book was a good starting place, but would have been much stronger if Young had chosen a few main ideas and written longer, more in depth chapters about those ideas. Because I’m not familiar with Young’s past work, I finished the book feeling like I had some generalizations about him and his beliefs, but nothing meaty.
Overall, if you’re looking for a discussion starter, this may be a good book for you. Reading it on my own left me wanting more.
GIVEAWAY! I am giving away my copy of Fifty Shades of They. Even though it didn’t resonate with me, if you’ve heard about it and are interested in reading it, I’d love to send you my copy. Leave a comment and I’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, August 21, 2015. (United States addresses only.)
I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.