What’s Here Now?

Sometimes I struggle with the books I receive for review. Maybe it is some personality defect.

Jeanne Stevens almost lost me on the opening page of What’s Here Now? when she asks”is there ever too much Chip and JoJo?”

 You tell me – I have never heard of Chip and JoJo, but in context I figure they must be on television. The reference a few pages later to having “Bob Ross hair” also went right over my head.

These cultural references let me know early on that I am not the target audience for this book. I considered stopping then and there and xonsigning What’s Here Now? to the unread pile. I am glad I didn’t.

I suspect this book may have started life as a series of talks or sermons. That explains the cultural references perhaps – Stevens’ audience would get the references, even if I don’t. And there were a lot that I didn’t get – and didn’t bother to look up. They were asides, fluff and filler, not part of the core message.

Laying aside the distractions, I found myself thinking as I got deeper into the book, “this will probably deserve a second reading. Or maybe a third.” Because once I got past the filler designed to build a realtionship with the target audience, I found there was a lot of meaty content. (My apologies To any vegan readers for using such an analogy. I apologize also for not including a trigger warning.)

What’s Here Now? is essentially a self help book. Which is perhaps a poor description. Think of it more as a self-awareness book – any help you need doesn’t come from what you do as much as from a better understanding of who you are. 

Jeanne Stevens thinks we need to re-examine how we relate to time. And she makes a very convincing case. 

God lives in the present, the now of the title, yet we humans have a tendency to dwell on the past (blame, shame, grief, bitterness and guilt) or the future (worry, denial, pretending, obligation, waiting and control).

As Stevens worked through each of those emotions I found myself nodding in agreement, thinking “I know someone like that.” All too often that some was me. 

So how do we learn to live in the present and not get distracted? How do we put aside those cares from the past and worries about the future?

Stevens provides some simple suggestions (and occasionally examples from her own life). While the examples I frequently couldn’t relate to (perhaps a male gender thing or maybe I was put off by the writing style), I found the suggestions good – and when she used examples from the Bible there were, for me anyway, some new insights into old passages. That is the sort of thing I really appreciate. 

I close to make What’s Here Now? part of my beach reading this summer. Normally I mow through thrillers and mysteries, finishing a book each day. I took this one differently.

Each morning around sunrise I sat on the beach, listening to the waves lapping gently on the shore and read a couple of chapters of What’s Here Now?. It was a different beach read – and definitely time well spent. 

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

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