Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Review :: Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman

I'm a fan of a lot of things.
  • Chocolate
  • Watermelon
  • A medium-rare filet mignon
  • BLTs (Has anyone else noticed that I'm a fan of food?)
  • Clemson
  • Duke (yes, it is possible to like Clemson & Duke)
  • Anyone playing for Team U.S.A. in the Olympics
  • NCIS
  • The Big Bang Theory (the show, not the actual theory)
  • The Bourne Trilogy
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • The Star Wars Trilogy (hmm...seems I have a thing for trilogies...)
Fans are great. They root for their team. They watch their shows. They consume every imaginable variety of their favorite foods.

But there's a line somewhere between "I really like it" and "I'm so crazy about it that I'd give up/do anything for it" that most people never cross. (Those who do wind up at Star Trek conventions or show up at midnight release that last part...I've done that before. Drat.)

Anyway...if you'd asked me a few months ago if I was a fan of Jesus, I would have said, "Yes. Absolutely. Huge Fan. One of the biggest. Love that guy. He's Awesome!"

But after reading not a fan by Kyle Idleman, I have to say that I am not a fan and I'm not interested in being one.

What I am interested in is following Jesus.

I actually know a thing or two about what can happen when you do that. And folks, it's not always pretty.

And that's what not a fan is all about. It's a wake up call to people who "want to be close enough to Jesus to get all the benefits, but not so close that it requires sacrifice."

Here's what I loved.
  1. I found it very entertaining to read. There are quite a few references to and examples from pop culture that you rarely find in a "Christian" book. I think I would enjoy hanging out with Kyle Idleman. The footnotes were a hoot.
  2. I appreciated his honest approach. He's not interested in introducing you to a Jesus who is going to make all your problems go away. He's showcasing the Jesus of the Gospels who said "take up your cross and follow me."
  3. I found his examples both informative and convicting. He uses stories from his personal life, as well as "not a fan" stories at the end of each chapter to highlight his points.
  4. I thought the book was written in a very accessible style. It would be a great choice for a teenager/young adult, or a very grown up adult who doesn't love to read.
Here's what bothered me a little.
  1. He walks a fine line between grace and works, and at times, I felt he crossed a bit too far into the works category. I don't think he was trying to preach salvation by works, but I can also appreciate the fact that James (lots of works) and Galatians (lots of grace) are both true. I'm not sure if I'd be comfortable handing this book to someone who was either very new to the faith or already in bondage to legalism.
  2. There were a couple of things that I felt were actual mistakes - a few geography and Scriptural quotes that weren't quite right and that put me a bit on guard as I read.
With that said, I would still recommend not a fan. It's a good reminder of the life Christ called us to - of what it looks like to be a completely committed follower of Jesus.

Not just a fan.

So tell me....are you a fan of not a fan?

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Vonda Skelton said...

Informative! Thank you for your honesty and fairness. I appreciate that in you. :-)

I felt a similar response to Blue Like Jazz. There were many revelations of myself and my motivations that caused me to pause and reflect on who I am and who He is. The scene with the confessional grips me to this day: I confess that I have not been Christ to you.

And yet, there were other parts that grieved me. Like his praise for the cussing preacher and the commune was the closest thing to real love. It seemed he was trying to make Christianity really cool and accepting. A flippant response to holiness/being set apart.

Thanks for giving us a glimpse into Not a Fan.

Jamie Britt said...

Lynn, I've heard a lot about this book and I want to read it! Do you know if it's in audio format? And...would you mind subscribing me to your email list so I can get your blog? My email: I can't because of the "type what you see" thing. Thanks! Love you!

Lynn Huggins Blackburn said...

Vonda - Thank you! (Would you believe I haven't read Blue Like Jazz?)
Jamie - I checked and there is an audio version...I found it on the Amazon link...I think it's available through And, I did subscribe you! Thanks!! You will get an email that you need to acknowledge and then the subscription will be active. Let me know if I can help in any way!!

Cathy Baker said...

Lynn, I agree with Vonda in that your review reminds me of how I felt while reading Blue Like Jazz. If I still have my copy, I'd be happy to share it with you, if you're interested. Thank you for an honest, informative review. It's going on my reading list!

parksdesign said...

I have to admit... This book just fills me with angst and uncertainty. Who can judge our walk with God BUT GOD?

It seems to me this book advocates keeping score as if the number of deeds or sacrifices I make determine if I'm a fan or a follower. Maybe I'm just way off but that's how it came off to me.