When Thomas Vanleer was 80 years old, he felt that God was telling him to write a book, to “reveal the idol gods that we have invariably allow[ed] to corrupt us.” In I’m Just Say’n, he examines the nature of human behavior and sin.
“This a book about God’s view of his creation and the human creatures who live in it,” he begins. And while God may love all he has created, Vanleer argues, He’s probably not too happy with His creation. “I’m just say’n,” notes the author, a catchphrase Vanleer uses throughout the book.
Offering pointed and lively commentary on humankind’s continuous shortcomings, such as hubris, lust, pride, entitlement, and consumerism, he calls out his fellow Christians, and even himself, for not living up to God’s standards. He also criticizes elitism and New Age religions, which he believes lead humans away from trusting in God. However, he saves his harshest criticisms for men, who have much work to do in their spiritual lives: “Today’s man,” he writes, “must be ruthless with himself.”
Vanleer has a charming voice, but his book is a mixed bag. Run-on sentences, misplaced commas, wrong spellings, and awkward phrasing are plentiful. For example: “Before we continue, perhaps most of us have heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, this seems to be true, given the discovery of television, the internet and digital cameras. We can sent [sic] pictures instantly to the four corners of the world, not that these things are evil in and of themselves, but our enemy, Satan has made good use of the dissemination of images and information that create havoc to a nation and its people.” These types of passages make for difficult reading.
Christian readers will find something warm and endearing in these pages, flaws and all; Vanleer knows how to preach effectively with honesty and passion. However, his book needs heavy editing before it can reach an audience.