“Unafraid: Living With Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times,” By Rev. Adam Hamilton. Published 2018 by Convergent Books, New York. This Review refers to the hardcover edition.
If you’re a regular reader of Adam Hamilton, like I am, this book might seem to be a bit of a departure. In my spiritual growth committee meeting at church I described it to others as “not your typical Adam Hamilton book.” That’s a good thing, by the way.
But what do I mean when I say that? Hamilton’s books, most of which are excellent, are either Biblical character studies or vaguely fluffy devotional style books that revolve around special times like Advent or Lent. Now there’s nothing wrong with that, but THIS book is so much more! To me it’s his most important book since “Confronting The Controversies.”
There is not a spec of fluff to be found in this book. This book is like a well oiled, ultra efficient machine where every word and sentence serves it’s purpose. It’s very compelling, and despite the lack of fluff, Hamilton doesn’t depart from that simple, wonderful pastoral voice that characterizes his books. Some might wonder if it’s too long. At 230 plus pages it clocks in at almost twice the length of some of his other books, but like I said, every sentence and every illustration builds on the last and servers his purpose.
Basically put, this book is about fear. It’s about fear and coping with fear. This is a hot topic right now. As Hamilton himself notes political propaganda (from both sides), the 24 hour news cycle, and the ubiquity of social media have violence, catastrophe, sickness, and hate in our faces 24/7. This seems on the surface like one of the most dangerous times to be alive. I hate the news at this point. No matter who you listen to we’re either on the edge of the next horrible terrorist attack, a gunman shooting up your local school, nuclear war, or a constitutional crisis that will bring about the end of the US government as we know it.
Pick your poison.
Some of these can be legitimate fears. Of course we should be concerned with terrorist attacks. Of course we should be trying to put an end to mass shootings. But in the last 100 years we’ve experienced two world wars. Nothing like that is happening now. Violent crime is down in the US overall, and each year car accidents and medical errors kill more of us than terrorists.
Hamilton’s book talks about these and many other fears. He has done his research, citing a whole host of scholarly works. He starts by talking about about the neurological basis of fear and about how our nervous system reacts to perceived threats. In this he mentions that fear can be a good thing that actually protects us!
But what happens when those fears take over? That’s where the rubber meets the road with this book. Hamilton deals with many types of fears, breaks down a lot of the statistics concerning them, unpacks the reasons we are afraid of them, and offers concrete ways to cope.
So what about faith? If you’re reading this right now you might be wondering what this review is doing on a Christian blog. You might be wondering if Adam Hamilton sold out just to write a bestseller. No. No he didn’t.
Faith is how Hamilton largely proposes that we deal with these fears. He mentions in the book that people of faith who are actively involved in a faith community tend to live longer and report higher levels of overall happiness. Every chapter on every fear is grounded in scripture, in stories from scripture, and in the love and grace of Jesus. This is perhaps most poignant near the end of the book when he’s talking about death and the fear of dying, which none of us will escape.
If you’re a regular reader of Adam Hamilton you might scratch your head at first, but keep with it. It’s one of his best books. If you’re just looking for a book to put your mind at ease about our world, I’d suggest putting down social media for a bit and picking up this book. Either way, check it out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
*I received no compensation for this review. The copy I read was not a reviewers copy, but my own copy which I purchased.