Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Gospel According to Starbucks by Leonard Sweet

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I'll admit, I originally bought this book because...well, because it's about Starbucks! I posted on my devotional blog about the latest controversy surrounding the coffee bar giant (come to think of it, I never did put my 2 cents in on that one:-), but all of that happened after the book came out.

The subtitle of the book is "Living with a Grande Passion", and that is primarily what Leonard Sweet is all about in all of his books--living the Christian life with feeling and passion.

In this one he does discuss the whole Starbucks experience in comparison to a walk with God. He claims that both should be EPIC--an acronym for

E- Experiential
P- Participatory
I- Image-rich
C- Connective

Which is true. The Christian life should be all of those things...but first and foremost, grounded and rooted in God's Word.

Which was one of the many things about Mr. Sweet's book that disturbed me.

Amid all of the nifty, cool quotes, questions, and statistics...not one word of Scripture in the entire book. With the exception of Acts 4:32 (which is only referenced, not quoted), any use of Scripture is a snippet of a line, and a reference in the notes.

Not important?? You be the judge. It bothered me.

Starbucks is the key image in the discussion, with all references centered around the coffee experience. There is a lot about society and societal references, and a brief discussion about the emergent church (which, in my humble opinion, has produced some dangerous lines of thought), and a lot about being relevant.

In all, it's an idea wrapped in a gimmick. Clever, but not theologically sound enough to build on. Read it for pleasure; don't get your doctrine or philosophy from it (see my rant on Junk in the Trunk)

"The Gospel According to Starbucks" gets two bookmarks from me...too much cotton candy and not enough steak and potatoes for this believer!

Happy Reading!



Amy said...

Nice review Deena! I don't think this would be the book for me either. I am automatically leery of anything that puts too much emphasis on experiences and too little emphasis on Scripture.

Denise said...

Think I will skip this book.

MizB said...


I have known, for a while now, that Leonard Sweet was a follower of the "Emergent Church" movement (ECM).

I found out about the "movement" a year, or so, ago, and at first I was really excited about it, as it seemed to be what I'd been trying to express all along.

But, then -- upon doing a TON of research on it -- I came to see that, while the ECM has a lot of *good* points to it, it also has just about that many *bad* points to it, too.

I still LOVE books that follow along the lines of the ECM -- like Rob Bell's "Velvet Elvis", or Erwin McManus' "The Barbarian Way". But, I like that these books -- while espousing a "live a life of integrity without the 'masks'" theory -- still very much rely on the Bible as the inerrant Word of God... the "sole authority". A lot of ECM followers do NOT believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, and that's what turns me off.

I also read Brian McLaren's book, "A New Kind of Christian", (because he's the unspoken "leader" of the ECM, and because Rob Bell had touted it highly as his "inspiration"), and I found it to be entertaining... but still with *some* flaws. Not NEARLY as bad as Marcus J. Borg's work ("The Heart of Christianity")! He most definitely is VERY entrenched in the "bad" side of that movement. :-?

Anyhoo. Sorry for the mild "rant". But, I had to share my 2 cents, as I really got interested in this last year. :-?

<>< Mizbooks

MizB said...

Here's a better link to one of my posts about the Emerging Church. ;o)
It mentions "E.P.I.C", and it was one of my very first posts about the ECM ... before I REALLY researched it. ;o)