Publisher: Lulu.com. If you're anything like me those words will set immediate alarm bells ringing: as a colleague at LST recently observed about another book, "Self-published? Never a good sign." But on the other hand, not necessarily a bad sign: consider the success of Wm P Young's The Shack and, before that, G P Taylor's Shadowmancer — both started out as self-published works, neither are great works of literature, yet each of them soon proved phenomenally popular.
Whether this little book by Charlie Fox is set to achieve similar sales remains anyone's guess: the only thing it has in common with The Shack and Shadowmancer is its author's determination to see it in print. Being Like Water is neither a novel nor an allegory: it is, rather, a collection of Charlie's observations and ruminations on life and faith over a six-year period. If you've read the book of Proverbs, for instance, then you've already got a rough idea of what to expect: short sayings and pithy comments, grouped together thematically into 15 chapters, the last of which is entitled 'The Rest' — thoughts that, in Charlie's own words, "come in from left field" and consequently defied easy categorisation.
Some are simple aphorisms, short and snappy — "Truth is rarely convenient." (p.71) — whilst others are longer, more reflective pieces:
Pray for values, not things, pray for endurance, strength, patience, temperance, kindness, love. God is spirit minded and he wishes you to conquer the material world with your spirit so he will help you. If you really need material things to help you do this, he will grant these as well. God is very aware of necessities but he is not someone who will grant needless luxuries which will encourage lassitude and laziness and therefore stunt spiritual progress. (p.45)
For more examples, follow Charlie on twitter, @beinglikewater.
Inevitably some comments will hit the spot more powerfully for some readers than others: that's the nature of the book. Some statements you'll agree with, others you'll dismiss, but you'll find plenty of food for thought and potential discussion starters on every page as Charlie connects his own spiritual experience with everyday life. No offence intended, Charlie, but as a book for dipping into rather than reading straight through, this is the perfect book to leave in the loo, for your visitors to read as they do what they have to do. Just make sure you've got a spare copy handy as some may want to take one away.
Phil Groom, June 2010
Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.Lulu.com | Comments? Feedback? | Order from www.christianbookshops.org