Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Book Reviews, Part VII (A Life With Purpose).

You've seen the best, Ultramarathon Man by Dean Zarnazes (here). Now here's the rest.

Published in March, 2005, A Life With Purpose by George Mair provides a counterbalance to Ultramarathon Man. Purportedly a biography, this book provides little information that is not already in the public domain concerning Rick Warren.

Moreover, the book fails to furnish well-known (and easily ascertainable) facts, such as Dr. Warren's earned doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary. In case you might object this criticism is nitpicking, consider that the book explores not only Dr. Warren's educational experience at Southwestern Seminary, but also delves into his undergraduate studies at California Baptist College in Riverside.

The book also neglects to discuss whether Dr. Warren has any children (he does), even though his daughter is somewhat of a public figure herself. This omission stands in contrast to the discussion of Dr. Warren's sister and brother-in-law, father and mother.

Nowhere in the text will you find any reference to Dr. Warren's rather high-profile and recent scrap with the United States government, which resulted in some published opinions from the U.S. Tax Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and literally an act of Congress.

If you expected to locate the writer's interview with Dr. Warren, you'll be disappointed because apparently the author elected not to bother, or he was declined (suggesting an unauthorized biography).

In addition to these various omissions, the book misreports some matters. It purports to inform the reader about Dr. Warren's web ministry to pastors. He alternates between "" and "", even though the correct address is "". Unfortunately, the vast majority of these references were to the inaccurate, and he only once or twice actually reported the correct site.

Also, Mair claims that Dr. Warren eschews publicity. While this may have been true several years ago, it cannot be legitimately asserted now (again this book was published in March, 2005). More recently, Dr. Warren has been a fixture of cable news shows, including "Larry King Live", Joe Scarborough's "Scarborough Country", and Bill O'Reilly's, "The O'Reilly Factor", and Time magazine. Clearly, Dr. Warren is intentionally using mass media to get his message out.

Perhaps most disturbingly, Mair closes his book by lifting chunks of Dr. Warren's materials with respect to his C.L.A.S.S. program (a baseball analogy where each class represents a place on the diamond), and the P.E.A.C.E. plan. Maybe Mair justified this apparent or near plagiarism because he called the book a "biography", but assuming he did not get Dr. Warren's approval, it's unseemly.

Three words: "Just say no".