David Dark’s book, Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious, uses pop culture, anecdotal evidence, and today’s technology as a conversation piece to know what it means to be religious and how one uses religion in all facets of life. Dark was an English teacher and after receiving his doctorate, he became an assistant professor of Religion and the Arts in the College of Theology at Belmont University. He also teaches at the Tennessee Prison for Women. After writing three other theological books, Dark wrote Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious as a response to a friend who said, “No one is more religious than me.” Dark challenges his Christian audience to recognize religion in every part of life, enable readers to take action and subtly witness to others through routine, and use religion as a tool to start conversation and find commonality, rather than division.
CONTENT AND METHODOLOGY:
Life’s Too Short To Pretend You’re Not Religious is split up into two parts consisting of an introduction and nine chapters. The introduction outlined the book and gave a concise summary of his book, explaining that a person should live their life with Christ in all areas of his or her life. The other nine chapters divide his summary into sections by redefining what it means to be religious throughout his book. Dark explains that being religious should not be a word that makes Christians feel bad about themselves or should cause a person to create division and cause them to compartmentalize their faith into sections because they attend church once a month, but also do other non-religious activities. Dark challenges the reader to recognize that Christians should live lives that emulate Christ in every area of life, “We’re always in the thick of it, this living fact of what our human hands have wrought under the dictation of what’s actually going on in our human hearts and minds. Our real sense of what’s really sacred is regularly on display” (18). Dark also mentions that people should, “choose our ancestors carefully” because they drive a person and shape them to do what they want (59). In the second half of the book, chapters five through nine, Dark focuses on Christian’s role in society and the connectivity through relationships and technology. He emphasizes on the future generations, the responsibility they hold to live in a world of technology, and remind them to get off of their devices that alter the world and to form personal relationships in reality instead.
At the very beginning of summer, I read the introduction and felt encouraged from this book to share a devotion, based on the book, to campers about judgement and about pancakes and waffles––how each food is like our life,, and the syrup is like our faith. We choose whether we will be waffles or pancakes and where God will be in our lives like syrup being compartmentalized in waffles. Dark said in his introduction, “When I label people, I no longer have to deal with them thoughtfully. I no longer have to feel overwhelmed by their complexity… They’ve been neutralized” (13). People fear being identified as religious, but a Christian’s identity is placed in Christ, as a Child of God.
The definition of religion is fuzzy within today’s Christian culture and the secular world. Many people think that religion is a conversation killer, but Dark challenges this idea and uses anecdotal evidence to illustrate Christ’s presence in secular activities. Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious is a good book to challenge Christians to reflect on their faith life and Christ’s daily presence. Dark encourages Christians to share the Gospel and let Christ control their lives even when there is tension around “non-religious people.”
Dark, David. David Dark. 2016. 31 August 2017. <www.daviddark.org>.
—. Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious. Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2016. Print.