Ken Davis, Fully Alive: Lighten Up and Live - A Journey that Will Change Your Life
seventy years ago, George Orwell said that Christianity would suffer in
the latter Twentieth Century, because while we were good at instilling a
fear of hell, whenever we trod anywhere near heaven, we turned vague
and elusive. Look it up: he repeats it several times in All Art Is Propaganda.
When I first read that, I didn’t know what he meant, but as I grow
older and more mature in my faith, I see it displayed around me every
often, unfortunately, we don’t know what we believe. We have grown
accustomed to Christmas pageants featuring fifth grade girls in
liturgical robes, pretending to be angels and proclaiming, “Do not be
afraid.” Afraid of what? Indeed, we fear too little, and enjoy too
little, and so much of what we call piety is an accrued shell of
cultural mess. Because of that, we don’t really live, because we feel we
have little to live for.
Christians are moving into a season when we celebrate the humble birth
of a King who came not to be served, but to serve. We celebrate His
calling to exalt the poor, restore hope to the broken, and make
ourselves an image of the God we proclaim. Yet looking around our
churches, I see that enacted all too infrequently. We try to lure
converts with highly programmed liturgy and a “worship high,” when the
world really wants to see us live what we believe.
do I hold myself exempt from that. I know I talk a much better game
than I live. And an important part of that comes about because I’ve
never successfully stated what I really believe.
humorist and motivational speaker Ken Davis hits many of the right
notes in his latest exhortation. By zeroing in on the ways in which we
hold ourselves back from the life God made available to us in Jesus
Christ, he makes a convincing case that we do our professed faith
injustice when we live half-alive. But I think he tries to do too much,
and parts of his book aren’t nearly as strong and confident as other
his early sixties, Davis, who has been making people laugh for the Lord
for decades, had a real “come to Jesus” moment when he saw a photograph
of himself on the beach with his granddaughter. By then, he had
ballooned to over 240 pounds, and his physical and mental health were in
a spiral. He knew that, if he wanted to enjoy his grandchildren, he
needed to get back on track, or else he was going to die.
embarked on a journey intended not only to restore his health, but to
reconnect him to the Source of all life and meaning. He spends several
chapters detailing the processes he took to regain control of his body,
and all the ways in which his life is improved now that his “Temple of
the Lord” is capable of greater acts of worship. Looking back, I wish
he’d written a spiritual memoir of his health; I would have enjoyed that
Davis tries to tackle the whole Christian experience, and all the ways
in which our short-sighted choices cut us off from the source of real
life. And because Davis attempts so much, he accomplishes too little.
Whole chapters have a stultifying vagueness that saps them of their
vigor. Make new friends? Shed the baggage that holds you back? These are
easier said than done, and they lack the specificity that makes Davis’
health-related chapters so electric.
essentially spreads himself too thin, and in the process, he trots out
the superficial vagueness that has become Christianity’s tragic
hallmark. While he dissects the mistakes all Christians make when we try
to go it alone, his solutions too often turn into bland bromides. I
really wish he’d stuck with the health memoir. “I started out here, did
this to correct, and learned these lessons.” Those are the best, and
also most specific, parts of his book.
on, Davis quotes Saint Irenaeus, one of the post-apostolic Church
Fathers, who wrote: “God’s glory is the earthly creature made fully and
eternally alive with the life of the Spirit.” Davis makes this the
thesis of his book, and returns to this point several times. I couldn’t
agree more. But because Davis tries to address too many parts of life,
few of them appear full. I like Davis’ point, but his execution falls
short of his effusion.