Thursday, February 12, 2009

On Thin Ice

A book caught my eye and grabbed my interest as I was browsing at the store a couple of weeks ago, so when I was given the opportunity to read and review it, I jumped at the chance.

One of my favorite winter sports has always been figure skating. Grace and artistry combined with incredible strength and agility showcase individuals whose talent, determination, and hard work enable them to glide, jump, and spin on a 1/8-inch wide blade. And in Men’s Figure Skating, no one is probably as well-known or loved as Scott Hamilton.

You may remember his days in the 1980's as a Gold Medal Olympian. Or you may know him as a commentator during the Winter Olympics every 4 years. Now you have a chance to know Scott Hamilton, the man, in his book The Great Eight.

This book intrigued me from the beginning. I did not know that Scott has become a believer in the past few years. The second chapter details his spiritual journey and the point when he “finally accepted the Almighty Coach into my life, and it has made me the happiest man alive.”

The theme of the book, as reflected in the title The Great Eight, is what Scott considers to be the eight secrets to happiness in life. He shares examples from his fights with cancer (twice – once with testicular cancer, and once with a brain tumor) and from his profession as an ice skater in chapters such as “Fall, Get Up, and Land Your First Jumps,” "Make Your Losses Your Wins,” and “Win by Going Last.”

I enjoyed reading this book and having a peek inside the skating world and Scott’s life. I appreciated his testimony and think he made some good points to encourage people to live above their circumstances. I really wanted to love this book, but I just couldn't. One reservation I had about it was that it skated precariously close (pun intended!) to a humanistic prosperity gospel of happiness. It may just be the semantics he used and the fact that his personality is upbeat and positive. But the emphasis on “you can be happy if you do this” as opposed to “the fruit of the Spirit is joy” keeps me from giving this a wholehearted endorsement. While I love happiness and laughter, I don't believe the Bible teaches that happiness in and of itself is to be our primary goal in life. Jesus Himself was a Man of Sorrows.

Similarly, toward the end of the book, as he speaks about each of his two sweet little boys, he says that though they will have heartaches and difficulties in life,
“and I can’t protect him from all that stuff entirely, but I can give him this net to fall into: ‘You are perfect.’ I firmly believe God made us in His image, and that’s a perfect one. [He and his wife tell their son regarding other people] . . . they’re positively perfect in God’s eyes. We’re no better than they, and they’re no better than us. We’re all perfect. And it’s such a healthy way to live each day.”
That really disappointed me, because while the Bible does say that we are created in God’s image, it is also clear in Scripture that since Adam & Eve’s original sin, we are a long way from perfect. If "we're all perfect," then the cross was in vain.

If you want to know more about Scott Hamilton’s background, ice skating, or testimony, read this book. However, I would not recommend it for someone who does not have a solid Biblical foundation who might be unwittingly led to believe that we are in charge of our own destinies and sin is not an issue.

You can purchase The Great Eight directly from Thomas Nelson publishing or at Amazon.


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Unknown said...

Hey, I reviewed the same book! (You might know that already.)

My bottom line was pretty similar to yours in that if you wanted to read about him and ice skating, then it's a good book. If you're looking for a solid "self-help" book, which is what the title suggests it is, then you want to look elsewhere. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it were an autobiography.

Liz said...

Thank you for your book review, Linda. I had not known that he had a salvation testimony, either. I appreciate your stand on Biblical truth, too. You are right on with your critique.

Mel said...

Thanks Linda I appreciate your review. I have read another on this same book as well. I also like that you pointed out areas that might cause some to stumble even unintentionally.

bp said...

Hi Linda,

Do you do the Thomas Nelson book review bloggers?
I chose this as my next book to review for them!

Anonymous said...

Excellent review Linda! I had not heard his testimony either, but I can appreciate your biblical insight. I really agree with you stand on his semantics of the gospel of happiness, it's such a fine line and I think you drew it well with your point.
Thanks for the review.

Unknown said...

I love Scott Hamilton. I'm glad he found Christ, and I hope he continues to dig deeper and learn more. We all have that spiritual milk part of our faith, until we get to the meat. I pray he finds the meat.

Thanks for the review. I am working on a book now to review...hopefully one day next week.

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Great insight, Lid.

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

Thanks for your review, and for the solid biblical truths you pointed out.


Beth Herring said...

You are right about this Linda. We have to be careful about what we read sometimes. FOr those of us who may be very grounded in our faith, it may be Ok, but for those who may not be as solid, it could be dangerous.

In Him,

junglemama said...

Sounds like a nice read.

Joanne@ Blessed... said...


Thanks for this review. That is the hard part about writing on your salvation. If you are going to do it, you better make sure it is solid.

My guess is that he is a baby Christian with some growing to do.

Thomas Nelson, though a Christian publishing company, is still a business and Scott has a national platform for sales.

Thanks again!

A Stone Gatherer said...

I always loved figure skating and Scott was one of my favorites to watch! Sounds like an interesting book!

Gayle @ thewestiecrew said...

Well, I must say that not only am I THRILLED to know that he's made a profession of faith but I actually thought he was gay. Seriously.
Hope that's not too forward, but I really did think that!

Unknown said...

Gayle...I have to admit...I had the exact same thoughts about his ummm...preference :-)

Mocha with Linda said...

He actually mentions that in the book - the surprised reaction that many people have when they discover he's married with 2 kids. I think he's a bit amused by it.