BLESSED ARE THE MISFITS by Brant Hansen (FAN AND FLAME Book Reviews)
When author and radio host Brant Hansen does a thirty-second radio commercial, I enjoy it.
When Hansen does a three-minute monologue between songs on a Christian radio station, I enjoy it.
When our mutual friend invited both of us on a road trip last summer to Philadelphia to watch the final Lord of the Rings movie, which was accompanied by a live orchestra, I really enjoyed it.
And when he writes a book, I enjoy that too.
In fact, because I enjoyed his last book Unoffendable so much (reviewed here), when I learned he was writing a new one, I asked if I could be on the book’s launch team. That new book is called Blessed are the Misfits, with the long and misfit-like subtitle of Great News for Believers who are Introverts, Spiritual Strugglers, or Just Feel Like They're Missing Something.
The book, he would say, is born out of personal struggles. You wouldn’t necessarily know this from listening to a couple of radio clips, but Hansen has Asperger’s, and on top of that he also has nystagmus, which causes his eyes to shake and his head to move involuntarily. All this invariably leads him into both amusing and very frustrating experiences. Some of these he shares in his book. Perhaps you have parts of your life that are awkward and difficult to share. Everyone does.
But, I must confess, I’ve been a misfit member of his book-launch team. His book released in the fall, and this is the first time I’ve written about it! Because the central theme of the book is that the love of Jesus is not for those who see themselves as upwardly mobile—an unfortunate, but common misconception—but rather that the love of Jesus is for those who recognize their great need, perhaps Brant will overlook my misfit-launch-team participation.
I did loan the book to a friend, which is some promotion. My friend enjoyed the book very much. However, I now realize in loaning the book, it probably didn’t help the book sales. Again, sorry, Brant.
I could share several funny sections from the book, but I’d rather share one of the more serious ones. It’s the story of Brant‘s father, who was a Christian preacher while Brant grew up. But his father was a different person at church than he was at home, which made things very difficult for Brant and the rest of the family. He writes,
People really liked my dad’s preaching and singing. My brother and I were often told what a wonderful man he was.
We were also absolutely petrified of him.
Honestly, I still don’t know what happened to him, or when. There are a lot of things I don’t want to remember. I recall bits and pieces, like being four years old, in a fast-moving car late at night, while my mom drove my preacher dad to the hospital. He was in the back seat, breathing into a paper bag.
I remember late-night yelling matches. I remember my mom yelling, “Who is she? Tell me who she is!” over and over.
I remember visiting Dad over the years, through grade school and middle school, in psychiatric wards and mental institutions. When you visit your dad in these places, it makes an impression on you. When you see him preaching days later, you remember that too.
I remember our bathroom floors. Very well. I’d sit there, sometimes for hours. I’d make up stories to distract myself from the arguing. Sometimes I would bring my favorite puppet, a little furry green monster, with me (I was big on puppets), and I’d sit and act out little sketches.
That was the coping plan. Go somewhere and lock the door and sit on the floor and rock back and forth and make up a puppet story or just try not to exist. . .
I remember my brother heroically intervening in my parents’ room when Dad was beginning to physically attack my mom. . . (pp. 90–91)
This section goes on for another page or two, only getting more difficult to read. I share this part of the book, and not one of Hansen’s many goofy stories, in the hope that you might check out the book. But more importantly—and I believe Brant would say this himself—I share this section in the hope that you won’t dismiss Christianity as a religion for the put-together, the good-doers, the never-need-help. Instead, I want you to know that the hope of Christianity is for misfits who only have their need to bring to God.