Loved & Sent: How Two Words Define Who You Are and Why You Matter
LOVED & SENT By Jeff Cloeter TenthPower Publishing, 2016. 176 Pages. $15.99
Don’t let the simple title fool you – this book is packed with thoughtful insights and challenging reflections. The author does a wonderful job weaving historically deep truths and culturally relevant anecdote into an approachable expose of two of the greatest questions facing humanity today: What is my identity? Where do I find meaning? Each page flows so smoothly to the next you rarely have to bookmark and return after a mental breather. Like an early spring walk through budding colors and chirping songbirds the disarming nature of this book puts the reader at ease amidst existential questions.
A particular perspective is evident in each chapter as Lutheran doctrine, although unspecified, is clear and distinct. The foundation of orthodox Christian dogma is solid but not stuffy, especially when awakening the spiritual senses to new ways of viewing the concepts of “Loved& Sent.” One memory referring to a first time communion with a man suffering from ALS highlights this. That day George had communion for the first time. The sacred meal instituted by Jesus had a new guest at the table. In the description, the straightforward presentation opens up the heart and mind to see sacred meaning and identity rooted in the ordinary messiness of life. To be loved and sent is to welcome new guests to the table.
One of the most important assertions in the book is also its Achilles heel. Identity and meaning are transcendent human needs. They cross race and socioeconomic background. Grounding the entire argument on this universal claim frequently raised this question: “Who is this book written for?” It reads like a catechism novella. Is it written for the pastor looking to translate identity and meaning into the next generation? Is the intended audience millennials searching for meaning and identity? Is it written for the Christian – or the unbeliever? The question of audience and the amount of doctrine presented undermines the relevant anecdotes. Additionally, while I appreciate the honesty and transparency of the author in personal recollections of fatherhood, I find the transcription of the culturally specific dialogue with Brandon to be somewhat forced and off-putting.
Loved & Sent is an innovative resource to approach deep questions of identity and meaning through the lens of God’s story of salvation while remaining culturally relevant. While it may not be clear who, exactly, the intended reader is, or should be, it is certainly worth reading whether the established clergy or questioning youth.
Rev. Josh Woodrow - Bridge City Community