Sunday, May 1, 2011

To Be Perfectly Honest by Phil Callaway

book cover

To Be Perfectly Honest
by Phil Callaway

ISBN-13: 9781590529171
Trade Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books
Released: May 3, 2011

Book on Publisher's Website

Source: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Book Description from Back Cover:
Veteran author and speaker Phil Callaway is no stranger to daunting challenges. He has been laughed at—repeatedly—by large crowds of people from Halifax to Hong Kong. He fathered three children in three years, spent much of last year on airplanes built by the lowest bidder, and flipped an out-of-control ATV, which doesn’t mean he sold it for a profit. So who better than Phil Callaway to boldly accept a challenge that would make the average person run and hide?

Phil promised to tell the truth for an entire year, and he wasn’t joking. Twelve months later, his journal was crammed with successes, near-successes, and outright failures. During his year-long experiment with veracity, he made a disastrous financial investment, fielded hundreds of intrusive questions from friends and strangers, attended a thirty-year class reunion, and waded into possibly the most revealing—and hilarious—situations he has ever documented.

Find out what happens when a follower of Jesus does his level best to always tell the truth. There is no doubt you’ll be entertained. But don’t be surprised if you are left with a question: how might your life be changed if you sold out to the truth—with no exceptions?

My Review:
To Be Perfectly Honest is a humor book about Christian living. My main problem with the book was that I thought it was about insights (illustrated by true stories) into the unexpected benefits of always telling the truth. That took up only about 10-15 pages in the book. The rest of the book was mainly about getting a laugh out of the reader.

The author stated that he didn't feel that jokes counted as lies. So a book about telling the truth contained deliberate lies for the purpose of getting a laugh. Not so much a problem in theory, but I sometimes had a hard time figuring out when he was telling a true, naturally funny story and when he was lying in order to make the reader laugh. While I love to laugh and find life quite funny, I unfortunately didn't understand or enjoy most of his humor.

Why did I read this book? I don't struggle with telling the truth. Nonetheless, I was interested in the subtitle's claim of "One man's year of almost living truthfully could change your life. No lie." Since the humor was a flop for me, it's too bad that I didn't even get any new "honesty" or "Christian living" insights out of the book. Every time he had an "aha!" moment, I was thinking, "You mean, you didn't know that?" But I guess I gained the insight that not every longtime Christian knows these things.

I should mention that I was bothered that the author felt that telling the truth was an excuse to be cruel or arrogant toward others. (For example, he said mean things about his wife's cooking and justified it as being truthful. He refused to laugh at someone else's jokes if he didn't find them funny, which he used to do just to be polite. He never understood that you can find something both nice and truthful to say in "be polite" situations.)

And while I appreciate the author's willingness to be open about his struggles as a Christian and while he did come to some good conclusions, I didn't like his attitude toward practically everyone in his life (made me glad I didn't know him) and I didn't agree with every Christian insight he came to. (I'm glad he no longer feels the need to pretend about his feelings when praying to God since that's pointless, but I don't agree that God's pleased by him being openly angry at Him. Phil's angry because he thinks he knows better than God about how things ought to be done, but, well, that didn't go over too well with God in the Garden of Eden.)

There were some discussion questions at the back of the book that focused mainly on telling the truth and the insights Phil gained. They, like this book, seem geared mainly toward those who lie frequently.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


John Creston said...

Thanks for this review of Phil Callaway's book Debbie. I came to quite another conclusion, as I (like the Apostle Paul who said, "The thing I know to do I don't and the think I know not to do I do") have been a life-long learner when it comes to telling the truth. As far as your comments about Phil's complaints to his wife and honesty as expressed in not laughing at someone's unfunny jokes, I suppose you don't get the humor and that's okay. The book made me think, Wow! Someone else is honest to admit his failures. It gives me hope and has strengthened my walk with God. I am on my third read of this book. Thanks again.

Genre Reviewer said...

Well, I'm glad you've found it so helpful. :)