In this episode of The Greater Heritage podcast we review Overcoming Apathy: Gospel Hope for Those Who Struggle to Care by Uche Anizor and published by Crossway.
About the book: In Overcoming Apathy, theology professor Uche Anizor explains what apathy is and gives practical, biblical advice to break the cycle. Inspired by his conversations with young Christians as well as his own experiences with apathy, Anizor takes a fresh look at this widespread problem and its effect on spiritual maturity.
About the author: Uche Anizor (Phd, Wheaton College) is an associate professor of theology at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. His other books include How to Read Theology and Representing Christ. He is married to Melissa and they have three children.
What happens when we feel apathetic about the things of God, or about life in general, but we can’t seem to get out of it? How can we better understand apathy and where it comes from?
All of this and more is answered in Uche Anizor’s latest book Overcoming Apathy.
Throughout Anizor discusses our culture of apathy, historical interpretations and conceptions of apathy, causes of apathy, cures and ways to combat it.
Anizor does an admirable job demonstrating how the triviality of contemporary culture is eroding people’s purpose and drive.
As he states, “We’re often numb to the meaningful, but ‘alive’ to the trivial.”
Anizor’s own thoughts echo the sentiments of Huxley whose biggest fear was that we’d end up in a trivial culture. “Anizor does an admirable job demonstrating how the triviality of contemporary culture is eroding people’s purpose and drive.”
Everything can’t be awesome. The inconsistency of news stories, the constant proliferation of distant drama on the shoulders of those who aren’t aware of what’s going on in their own backyards, a ‘too much of everything’ culture and a world where everything is a big deal from hot takes to sound bytes adds up to nothing more than an environment in which apathy flourishes.
Besides triviality, Anizor also mentions how lack of purpose stands as a chief cause of apathy.
Additionally, later in the book Anizor talks about how people need to hold convictions to overcome apathy, even if their convictions are unpopular ones.
For instance, he gives a scathing but spot on indictment on ‘openness,’ calling it what it is: fear of man disguised. “Overcoming Apathy shines by showing how putting yourself at the center of the universe backfires and causes apathy.”
He also hits home when he tells readers to ask if everything is equally true or every perspective is equally valid, why bother caring about your own view or anything for that matter?
Overcoming Apathy shines by showing how putting yourself at the center of the universe backfires and causes apathy.
We don’t have it all figured out and we never will. We have to place ourselves back in God’s story and find meaning in Him.
As Anizor writes, don’t get lost in the Wild West of small narratives like money, power or fame. Instead, even though we might feel like we don’t matter, we matter to God and the things that matter to God are of ultimate and eternal significance. We are made to know Him.
The book gives nice nods to doctrine such as the fact that God’s already conquered your apathy. “We don’t have it all figured out and we never will. We have to place ourselves back in God’s story and find meaning in Him.”
Others include living as a victor in Christ, how salvation lets us see each other for who we really are and that’s where real change takes place, and that we have real hope in Christ.
Anizor closes the book out by providing the reader with ways to combat apathy.
The best way to deal with apathy, he says, is to develop a new way of living, thinking and feeling (like a slow burn approach).
And according to him the best attack should be indirect (that is an approach that hits the causes of indifference that can lead to apathy).“Recommended as not only a good starting point for those in need of healing from apathy, but also as a title that provokes questions that can help us step away from the trivial, away from ourselves and back to living in God’s story and with Him as our purpose.”
The only negative I have for the book is that, while not exceeding 200 pages, there’s a lot to unpack, and at times the widespread nature of what the book addresses (from causes and cures to history and culture), seemed a little overwhelming and interrupted the flow of the book for me. It’s not a dense read, there’s just a lot of twists and turns at times.
However, there’s plenty of “good stuff” here for readers to mine, and this shortcoming can easily be overlooked.
While it sometimes bites off more than it can chew, Overcoming Apathy: Gospel Hope for Those Who Struggle to Care by Uche Anizor comes recommended as not only a good starting point for those in need of healing from apathy, but as a title that provokes questions that can help us step away from the trivial, away from ourselves and back to living in God’s story and with Him as our purpose as it invites us to start the journey back to what really matters (God and His glory).
Intro and outro music provided by John Fairfull.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this review are solely those of the reviewer. They do not represent any endorsement from the publisher or retailer. Image © Copyright 2023 Crossway