Disruptive Generosity

9781493412327.jpgI’m a city boy, so I was looking forward to reading a book about transforming cities. According to the pre-release information I was given on this one, lives are being transformed through “disruptive generosity.” I wanted to know more.

The focus is more on the generosity and the donors than on people whose lives were transformed, which was a bit of a disappointment for me Also, I ignored the instructions on how to read this volume, which I think contributed to a certain amount of dissatisfaction on my part.

This book is supposed to be inspirational, and in many ways it is. Meant to be read as a study/devotional, it is supposed to encourage giving by providing stories of people across the world who are giving big. Probably better to read a chapter at a time rather than consume it in a day’s reading at the beach like I did.

The chapters are short, and left me wanting more. More details, more background, more of the impact of these generous people. There are no stories of those who are the recipients of the generosity, and there is way too much detail on when Mac Pier first met them and what type of pie they cooked for him. These are the people from his network, and while I had never heard of him before it seems many people have. A good editor would have cut out a lot of the details, made the annoyingly short sentences longer and made this a better book.

What I really did like was the way the book is set up. Each chapter starts with a passage from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, words relevant to the story being told. Then comes the story, followed by questions in context of the issues raised and then a prayer arising out of the questions. I found those to be thought provoking.

Maybe it is my inherent poverty, or an application Matthew 6:3 (which says when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing), but I found the emphasis on money made me feel a little uncomfortable. I can be inspired by someone who gives away 90 per cent of their income – that is something we can all aspire to, no matter how little or how much we make. I am more uncomfortable with stories that include specific amounts, that so and so cut a cheque for $50,000 for this ministry or $1,000,000 for that endeavor. That doesn’t inspire me; that just flaunts their wealth.

More motivational details would probably cushion that unease. Why do people give to the causes they do? And what are the on the ground results of those donations? How are the cities being transformed? I really don’t know.

In almost every chapter I was left with questions. I want to know more about the people being profiled and what return, if any, they expect. Some of these philanthropists probably deserve their own biography. All of the chapters should have been twice as long. But then they would be too long for the devotional format.

Having read the book I am still left wondering about the transformation of cities, which is what I wanted to know about when I first opened the pages. In most cases I don’t know what was really done with the money – I didn’t recognize the programs it was given to. It is inspiring though to know that there are still people who are willing to give large sums for the benefit of others. I’m not sure if that inspires philanthropy on the part of those of us who have less disposable income, but I can’t say that it doesn’t.

“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”

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