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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review of "I Like Giving" By Brad Formsma

I Like Giving by Brad Formsma is thoroughly positive.  The premise is straightforward, simply, and hopeful.  Formsma wants the reader to know that life is better when generosity is a life practice.  He clearly takes tremendous joy in giving - giving money, giving acts of service, and even just giving smiles.  The book is comprised of his own ideas about giving.  Story after story of people, each told in first person and shared with Formsma through his organization, are interspersed throughout the book.  Overall, I find it to be uplifting.

It is loosely grounded in theology and in psychological theory, but the references are sparse.  Scripture appears to influence Formsma’s worldview.  However, he shows no commitment to a detailed analysis of the New Testament teachings.  Much of what Jesus said is alluded to, but chapter and verse are not given. 

This is unfortunate because the New Testament presents the strongest case to be made for generous living.  Formsma’s motivation for generosity is it feels good and makes the world a better place.  However, he doesn’t present a well-thought out argument.  He speaks from the heart, which is not bad.  But when proposing a worldview, organized thought is as important as impassioned testimony.  Formsma offers an abundance of the latter and none of the former.

In one case a story is shared of an immigrant trying to get a driver’s license.  The man is unable to get a license due to his difficulty with English.  But if he pays an exorbitant fee, one native English speakers do not have to pay, he will then “pass” the test.  The person sharing the story pays the fee and everyone feels good.  He (the story teller) generously paid the crooks (those grading the driver’s tests) so the man (the immigrant) could get his license.  Formsma celebrates the generosity but says nothing about the systemic injustice.  Even if justice is not his topic, it is unconscionable to celebrate generosity when it participates in and perpetuates corruption.

That lack of critical thinking robs the book of some of its punch.  Nonetheless, the basic message is a good one.  People benefit by being generous.  Those around them benefit from their generosity and they themselves develop a healthy outlook on the world by giving of themselves.  For a serious look at materialism and consumerism, I recommend the reader look elsewhere.  But, for an easy-to-read, encouraging book that just might challenge one to make changes in life, the reader would do well to read I Like Giving by Brad Formsma.

Disclaimer - I received this book for free from WaterBrookMultnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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