It is not uncommon to hear someone say they are spiritual or they believe in Jesus but are not religious. In his book Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious, David Dark seeks to eliminate this phrase and the immediate division it causes. Dark currently teaches as assistant professor of Religion and the Arts in the College of Theology at Belmont University. He also teaches at the Tennessee Prison for Women. Dark is the author of three other religious-centered books. Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious is Dark’s attempt at explaining how everyone is religious and how that can be used as a connecter instead of a divider.
Content and Methodology
Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious is divided into an introduction and nine chapters. In the introduction Dark explains his definition of religion: religion is displayed through actions. By Dark’s definition, religion can be anything from going to church and talking about Jesus to passionately cheering for your sports team and knowing everything about them. Throughout the book, Dark challenges readers to pay attention to their “attention collection.” What are the events and who are the people that were influential in their lives? These are the things that have formed each individual’s personal religion. In chapter four, Dark explains his love of science-fiction because it addresses issues or values through an alternate reality. Chapters five through seven stress the importance of relationships and how religion and relationships cannot be separated. Dark finishes by once again stating that everything can be religious in nature and it is important to pay attention to the religion actions are portraying.
For the most part, I appreciated Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious. Dark’s writing style was different than most books I have read, and his phrasing often caused me to continue to think after I had finished reading. The introduction and the sections about relationships particularly stuck out to me. In the introduction Dark explains that religion should apply to our whole lives and be the center of our core of actions and values (pg. 15). Although Dark would define religion more broadly, for me, this was a reminder that my Christian faith should be at the center of everything I do. My faith should be what guides my life and what people see in me. “Your religion is your witness is the shape your life takes” (pg. 23). This also ties into relationships, because I want the people I am in relationship with to see Jesus through my life. To be able to live out my faith, to practice my religion, I must have relationship with others. As Dark says, “witness calls for withness” (pg. 88).
Dark’s book was filled with stories from his life and many pop culture references. Although it was interesting to hear his experiences and where he is coming from, I often found I could not pick out Dark’s main point or understand what he was trying to illustrate. The majority of chapter four was confusing to me, because I am not a science-fiction person. Ultimately, Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious will not be read by enough people to make a difference in the way culture views religion, but Dark made many good points and valiant effort to create more conversations about religion. Dark never specifically mentioned Christianity as the only true and saving religion, but I believe his book is a first step to discussing the topic of religion which can then be followed by sharing the gospel.
Dark, David. David Dark. 2016. 30 August 2017. <www.daviddark.org>.
—. Life’s Too Short to Pretend You’re Not Religious. Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2016. Print.