Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Book Review: “The Last Addiction: Own Your Desire, Live Beyond Recovery, Find Lasting Freedom”Sharon Hersh. Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press, 2008, 240 p.

Overview—Give a brief overview of the book, including its theme, perspective and approach.

"The Last Addiction" is part "self-help" book and part spiritual memoir. Sharon Hirsh is honest, brutally honest, about her own struggles with addiction as she seeks to offer hope to those also struggling. She offers no easy answers as she weaves insights through the many narratives of addicts she has known. In fact, "self-help" is the very thing she warns against. The last addiction turns out to be an addiction to our own will, our own self, our own ability, our own pursuit of control. As it turns out, addictions are only faced through the gift of getting caught, the gift of surrender, and the acceptance of God even in the midst of addiction.

Critique—Offer a brief critique of the book, including elements of strength and weakness.

One must be careful with a book like this, even in its strengths. Her stories of people with addictions are so powerful and compelling that it might leave the impression that to be truly human one must have struggled in the throes of addiction themselves. In proving to us that we are not gods, addiction is truly a great gift. I appreciated her courageous stance on the power of the gospel. And I think I understand what she means by "[God] desperately hungers for intimacy" and "God as desperate savior". But I am also wary of an approach that makes us feel loved because God makes much of us. Does God show love for us my making much of us or, at great cost to himself, giving us the ability of making much of him?

Application—Offer some specific application to your own ministry— demonstrating the value and relevance of the material in this book.

Hirsh challenged me to live more honestly in community with others. She states. "The value of community for those struggling with addiction cannot be overstated. When we see others like us, taking steps toward a new way of living, we begin to believe in redemption – for people like us"

Best Quote—Be sure to include the page number where the quote can be found.

p.14 "'Their land is full of idols' (Isaiah 2:8). After all, that is what addiction really is – it is worship. No matter how sophisticated or crude, any given addiction is a person, place, substance, activity, or ideology that becomes central to a human being's mind, body, soul, and spirit. Whether it is alcohol or religious activity, addiction is at work when something or someone begins to affect the style and nature of all aspects of a person's life and interacts with all his or her activities. The etymology of the word gives us insight into its idolatrous nature. Addiction is from the Latin word addictus, which means 'to surrender to the gods.'"

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