When reading a book I intend to review, I’m very aware of my task. I have a pen at, if not in, hand, eager to underline phrases or mark paragraphs that I might cite when I sit down to write. But this time I surprised myself. For the first 50 pages of THE GRAND WEAVER, I got lost in the prose. That might not seem like a compliment, but in this context it is.
Ravi Zacharias --- host of the “Let My People Think” weekly radio program --- is known for his reasoned presentations of Christian Orthodoxy. And that rhetoric is a critical part of this book, especially in the second half. But he is also a breezy storyteller, giving his reader glimpses into his own family life and extensive domestic and international travels as well as drawing anecdotes from historical settings and outside resources.
The title THE GRAND WEAVER is explained in an introductory story (apparently also told in his autobiography WALKING FROM EAST TO WEST) of a weaver of wedding saris in the Ganges River city of Varanasi, India. (Zacharias is Indian, from Delhi; his parents were Anglican.) After two pages of detailed description, Zacharias concludes: “If an ordinary weaver can take a collection of colored threads and create a garment to beautify the face, is it not possible that the Grand Weaver has a design in mind for you…?”
This is not a long book; in eight chapters he discusses the “threads” of one’s life, starting with one’s unique personality or DNA; one’s personal disappointments; one’s calling or desire to serve. In chapters 4 through 8 --- discussing one’s morality, spirituality, will, worship and destiny --- the tapestry-weaving theme seems a bit forced. Here he’s teaching that (1) true Christianity holds its ground and (2) how Christians should live out their faith --- not really showing, as the subtitle suggests, “how God shapes us through the events of our lives.”
Examples: More than halfway through the chapter on spirituality, Zacharias finally mentions weaving, asking, “How does one find the right threads to bring about the perfect design?” The chapter on worship begins with this explanation: “This thread of worship binds together all the rest of the threads in the design of our lives…. If this thread breaks, the whole design falls apart.” The chapter then defines and describes aspects of true worship and then comes back around to a last paragraph about worship as the “thread of all threads that pulls the multiple threads of life into a beautiful whole.”
Though I think it is never mentioned in the text, an appendix tacked on to the book might be very helpful to readers. It asks and answers “25 Key Questions,” which parallel the outline of the preceding chapters, some of the answers even repeating earlier teaching-commentary. This appendix serves as a good summary of major points and would be helpful to a reader looking for discussion points of Zacharias’s concise responses to issues focusing on “the existential side of how the Christian faith deals with” issues of “God’s purpose and design for this world and for each individual.”
Reviewed by Evelyn Bence on June 26, 2008
The Grand Weaver: How God Shapes Us Through the Events of Our Lives