I have read and appreciated both of Andy Crouch’s recent books. Culture Making made the case for why we as Christians need to be creative and speak into culture. Playing God made the case for the real existence of relational power and how it should be properly used.
Strong and Weak seems like a natural follow up to Playing God. Once you have the idea that power actually exists and that as Christians we have a responsibility to use it well, then you have to understand how to actually lead, regardless of whether that leadership is of a large organization or your own life.
The basic concept of the book is simple. Crouch has a two by two grid (the image on the right is from the book). High authority and high vulnerability (or risk) leads to flourishing. High authority with low vulnerability leads to exploiting others. Low authority with low vulnerability leads to withdrawing from relationships (and the world). And the final of the four options is low authority and high vulnerability, which leads to suffering.
A simple grid like this works well for illustration. And there is a chapter on each of these four areas. Simple illustrations are memorable and bring insight into a complex world. Some simple illustrations reduce complexity by distorting reality. But I think this, while there can be real quibbles, does point to a real truth. And in the context of a fully fleshed out book, Crouch brings enough nuance to the illustration that is really is helpful.
The final three chapters are about how to encourage a flourishing life and what authority and vulnerability do and do not mean. This is the second new book this year that I have read that is based around the idea of flourishing. I have read some negative comments about the idea of flourishing. It is a vague concept, but I think at root, we all know that some things flourish and some do not. The specific line between when you are flourishing and when you are not may be nebulous, but that is not really a complaint against the concepts, but against the definition.
Andy Crouch is a good author. He writes clear concepts that are well illustrated. This is a brief book that I listened to on audiobook (because christianaudio offered me a copy for review). I listened to the whole thing in just over a day and I would like to wait a few months and read it again in print. It is a book that is simple but not simplistic.
A digital copy of the audiobook was provided free of charge for purposes of review.