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Before reading this book, almost everything I knew about Justin Bieber came from Glee. Or secondhand from Twitter (I don’t follow Bieber, who’s a fairly prolific and honest tweeter). And maybe a little bit from my kids, but they’re not huge fans either.
So Bieber’s story was completely new to me anyway, but reading it with a spiritual twist, and from the point of view of a woman my own age, put it into a good context for me.
Cathleen Falsani (author of The Dude Abides: The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers) admits that she was only minimally aware of Bieber before writing this book. She became interested after seeing a February 2011 Rolling Stone article titled “The Adventures of Super Boy: God, girls and boatloads of swag.”
And indeed, Justin was open about his faith in the interview. This is the one where he talked about homosexuality (he thinks it’s none of his business) and abortion (he’s against it, but also says “I haven’t been in that position, so I wouldn’t be able to judge that”).
But faith is part of his overall story, too, especially from his mother’s point of view. Much of the book really discusses Justin’s mother’s faith, rather than his own.
Falsani takes us through Justin’s history starting from before he was born to a teenage mother, through his childhood and into his current teen years. She recounts events that are probably familiar to the true Beliebers, like how he became a YouTube sensation, and how he ended up with a record deal.
Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to directly interview Bieber or people close to him for the book. So the information is coming from other interviews, and from Twitter. In fact, the advance copy I read includes several pages of tweets by Justin and his mother.
What’s clear is that Justin Bieber has grown up surrounded by faith, and that it’s part of who he is. I’d also say that’s he’s still very young, and his faith is still developing. Right now, he’s got the faith he’s grown up with; the faith of his family and friends. Like other young people, he’s still going to have to figure out whether this faith is authentically his own, and something he can live out as an adult.
ADDENDUM: I had my 11-year-old daughter read the book, too. She said that a lot of it was things that she already knew from Bieber’s movie. She also didn’t like reading pages and pages of tweets. She thought some younger people and teens might be interested, but that this book was geared more toward adults.
This book has a SQUIRREL on the cover. I have no idea why. Somebody should figure that out. [update: my husband reminded me that there’s a story about a squirrel in the introduction. I was too busy thinking “SQUIRREL?!” and thinking about this.]
The subtitle is The Art of Not-Evangelism. I love this. I have never felt like traditional, getting-people-saved evangelism was an effective tactic. Actually, I’ve never felt like the whole philosophy of “let’s convert people and get them to attend our church on Sunday” was a good one. So this book is right up my alley.
According to Medearis, “making disciples of all nations” doesn’t mean we have to get everyone to go to church on Sunday, subscribe to a certain set of theological beliefs, or recite a certain prayer or prayers. It just means helping people to develop a relationship with Jesus and to follow Jesus.
And that’s it. It’s about Jesus. Not about Christianity or any other religion.
I loved it. It’s well-told and easy to read.
Here’s a sample: