Contemplations from the Heart by Grace Ji-Sun Kim

This book is aptly titled; as you read it you can see Grace Ji-Sun Kim’s heart pouring through.  It is a series of reflections broken into three headings: family, environment and church.  Each chapter is very short, only about two pages, which makes this book ideal for any Christian as a sort of daily devotional.  In a world where we are all busy, this is the sort of book people probably want, and could actually take the time to, read.  Each chapter will give you some things to cheer about as well as much to think about.

As I read there were times when I found myself thinking that I can’t relate to this, that this is a book written by an Asian woman and thus not targeted at me, a white man.  But then I realized that this is why people like me ought to read such a book.  My experience of feeling that this book is not for me is a reflection of my own white, male privilege.  I can go into any bookstore and find loads of books written by people who look like me, filled with illustrations I can relate to.  I take the availability of such books for granted.  At worst, I assume such books are neutral, written to all Christians while books like this one by Dr. Kim target a more specific (other Asian women, for example) audience.  But the books I am naturally drawn to are not neutral, they are written by white men, and, whether the authors or readers realize it or not, with white men in mind.  Thus it is a blessing to hear diverse voices from the church, such as Dr. Kim’s.  So while I would recommend this book to those persons from a similar context to Dr. Kim’s, I would also recommend more white guys like me read and listen to voices such as hers.  It can only benefit the church when we break out of our comfortable privileges and listen to the Spirit speak in diverse voices.

The primary negative I found was that there were a few editing issues in the book.  In one chapter she mentions something that happened in a certain month in 2013, but in another chapter she speaks of something that happened in a month without a note of the year.  And in another chapter she speaks of something in the future tense that already happened – so future from when she wrote it, but past from when the book was published.  Such things are minor but do stick out and are a bit jarring.  I also think the book could have benefited from more Bible readings or quotes from other Christians.  Of course, that is the evangelical in me speaking.  The title is “contemplations” from the heart, not “Bible studies” from the heart!  And we are all blessed that Dr. Kim has given us a window into her heart.

Full disclosure – I am friends with the author and received a free copy for purpose of review.

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