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2.09.2016

40 Days of Decrease [book review]


2015 was the first year I read a devotional for Advent. It feels weird to recognize that, but it’s true. I loved it, so I decided to do it again for Lent. But I cheated and started reading ahead of time so I could tell you lovelies whether or not it’s worth buying for your own Lenten journey. (:P) Anyway. The book I chose is 40 Days of Decrease, by Alicia Britt Chole. And–spoiler alert–I totally recommend getting yourself a copy.


The books has a reading for each day that includes an initial short essay, a reflection for the reader, a suggested fast, and an assigned scripture reading. There’s also a place to write down your thoughts on the scripture passage. And there are quotes intermittently throughout the book (you know how I love a good quote!).

So how was it?

PROS:


  • The quotes, “On Lent” sections, and general topics are excellent. I really like the content here.
  • Chole starts out by reminding us that faith, and Lent, is not supposed to be about us. It’s supposed to be about God. American spirituality has, however, twisted it around–so we need to be careful. I appreciate that she’s honest and doesn’t try to butter up her readers.
  • The daily readings are pretty short, so they’re easy to get through.
  • The readings inspire deeper thought and meditation–it’s not just fluffy nothing stuff.
“Faith, in general, is less about the sacrifice of stuff and more about the surrender of our souls. Lent, in kind, is less about well-mannered denials and more about thinning our lives in order to thicken our communion with God. Decrease is holy only when its destination is love.” -Alicia Britt Chole

CONS:



  • There are readings assigned to each day, starting with Mary anointing Jesus with oil just before Passover. But Chole doesn’t actually comment on the scripture itself. The rest of the content is excellent, but I really wish there was some discussion of the assigned passages.
  • The suggested “fasts” aren’t really fasts at all. They’re mostly about attitudes or thoughts, which take more than a day to truly change. They do, however, fit into the more conceptual, contemplative nature of the rest of the content (content I like, remember). I would say they’re more thoughts for how to apply the daily reading to your life than actual fasts–it’s a simple misnomer.
  • The assigned bible passages aren’t written out in the book–you have to have your bible handy and look them up yourself.


In my opinion, the pros massively outweigh the cons. Most important is that the content is high quality and is presented with adequate depth. I often struggle with that point when reading other devotional books–I want something that both fits into my day and pushes me to meditate more on the message. It’s a hard balance to find, but Chole nailed it. I’m excited to have this book on my shelf–this year and in years to come.

P.S. I received this book for review. However, I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

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