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"Think Again: Relief from the burden of introspection"

This is a very practical, intelligent yet accessible read on the issue of introspection. The style is uncomplicated, humorous at times and peppered with personal experiences. It includes quotes from the Christian greats including CS Lewis, Charles Spurgeon, Francis Schaeffer and Gerald Manly Hopkins as well as modern day theologians such as John Piper. Each chapter concludes with questions for reflection and discussion and would therefore be ideal for both personal and group study.

The author, Jared Mellinger, combines biblical insights with relevant and solid ideas for practical application. This makes it a makes it a highly recommendable book.  Its content is presented within a sound theological framework and the author tackles the subject of introspection from a multi-dimensional perspective.  As you read this book it will get you “out of yourself” and it will leave you with a greater appreciation of three things: the “world outside” the self; Christ’s immeasurable greatness; and the wonders of creation. It is theologically sound and refers to poets and theologians alike, eg TS Eliot and Spurgeon, who specifically refer to the trap of introspection. For those of you who struggle with this issue of introspection, this could be a profoundly impactful book. It will broaden your mind and loosen up constraining thought patterns to think outside the smallness of your inner world. It is a book that will ignite your creativity and imagination, bringing a certain hope and release to the frustrated artist in you.  As you read, it prepares you for the underlying question that the book provokes: “Are you ready to come alive to God and His creation which reflects His glory?”

Think Again” follows a logical sequence and, in completing the read, one gets a sense of having had a good meal that ministers to the soul. It opens with the author giving an embarrassing personal experience and describes the part introspection played in the process. The book continues by noting the paradoxical truth that knowing oneself is found by gazing away from oneself. The gospel destroys the idol of self and replaces it with Christ. Mellinger goes on to compare healthy reflection and self-examination with crippling introspection. He also critically looks at the self-esteem movement but in an easily digestible way. He reminds us that the “depths of our misery can never fall below the depths of God’s mercy”.  He pays particular attention to false guilt and its roots. He draws a clear distinction between sin and weakness with clear insights and probing questions. In the chapter on rescuing self-reflection, he gives specific pointers and guidelines which are positive disciplines for anyone to practice, including that of being accountable by involving others.  This is the antidote for self-hatred. True repentance leads to the path of joy in Christ. “The joy in the art of self-forgetfulness” is a pivotal chapter; it opens out our world to the pursuit of the Christian virtues and the true appreciation of beauty.  Worshipping God and serving others are God’s ways to pull ourselves out of ourselves. It is followed by a chapter on the majesty of God’s creation seen with new eyes: “All beauty is to remind us that life is bigger than self”.

The book does not make specific reference to same sex attraction but there is nothing in its content that would be at variance to the principles of TFT.

Introspection is universally part of the human experience and, while the author’s style may be light, the book carries profound truths.  The subject can be difficult to address in that its roots are complex and highly individual. This book does not address these issues specifically and neither does it claim to do so. It is of particular interest to individuals who carry shame, guilt, rejection and condemnation, which are issues that face a lot of people with same-sex attraction as well as others. In a highly sexualised world, we easily look inward to see if we are matching up to standards set by the world. Moreover, where there is sexual brokenness and self-rejection, the inward gaze can become obsessive in an attempt to assess one’s life against biblical standards. Culturally, this book is accessible to a UK readership as well as appealing to both younger and older readers, as the style is modern and yet the author draws from the wisdom of the patriarchs. 

Think Again” sets us free from looking at our faults and releases us to look outwards and upwards. In this way there is a double bonus: one of death and one of resurrection - death to self and resurrection to life in the Spirit. Personally, it was a God-send and a timely read for someone who tends to check for change and transformation rather than trusting in His infinite love for me. I am then left with one memorable line from this profoundly simple book, “God intends his children to go outside and play”. I trust you will enjoy and be blessed by this compelling read.

Think Again: Relief from the burden of introspection by Jared Mellinger
New Growth Press April 2017
£13.49 paperback
192 pages