Published On: Mon, Jul 7th, 2014

Book Review: ‘When Your Life Is On Fire: What Do You Save’

Reverend & Psychotherapist Erik Kolbell combines theology and psychology to guide tragedy survivors through the complex maze of coping with the initial tragedy and then handling the life changing circumstances over the long haul – not just the immediate days but the months and years that follow. 

When Your Life is on FireIn “When Your Life Is On Fire” evokes insights and opinions from a diverse group: Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Regina Carter, Fred Newman, Jane Pauley and Alan Alda, just to name a few. Kolbell sets out with an interesting challenge of imaging all of your belongings and then everything “you are”- now there’s a violent fire: what do you take with you?

The exploration with Kolbell asks these high profile characters that very question: “What would you save?”

While the responses are diverse, they are also interesting and challenging. The discussions go beyond the biography or background to then answer the question to each individual’s perspective. Some responses lead to some great quotes.

“Once you’re aware you want blue, you’re not gonna take purple. You’re not going to take orange,” Mariah Britton says of finding your purpose. Alda reflects on how “Reality is painful,” recounting people walking out during his ‘best scene’ while John Alexander compares the art world to all of society.

Christopher Lim may really challenger readers saying “in order to learn we not only need to gather in but also to toss out,” meaning a purge of old, outdated ideas and “we have to let our beliefs be challenged.”

The honest and openness of the “extraordinary people” is truly the highlight of the book, but Kolbell’s motivation seems lost. Knowing a lot of interesting people was one of the confessed reasons to put pen to people, but the free-for-all commentary doesn’t thread together a strong message.

Kolbell himself is not going to resonate with Evangelicals, even taking aim at those who take the Bible literal, calling for a more liberal theology.

“In truth, religion should go beyond tolerating critical views to welcoming them,” he writes. Many readers find that message to be part of the Church’s compromise which has devastated the testimony of Christians.

Overall I would have enjoy two part answers from the “extraordinary people” to include a material item with an accompanying “why” and a more philosophical response.

“When Your Life Is On Fire” receives 2 out of 5 stars.

If you view yourself as a liberal Christian or ascribe to a more liberal theology then the book will carry more weight. It was too compromising and thin to warrant praise from Evangelical readers.


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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON


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