So I was hearing really good rumbles about this book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, from a number of people I respect, and so I made a note to myself that I probably ought to do something about it. You know?
I had only read one other book by Trueman ten years or so ago (Republocrat), which was kind of okay, but in other ways, Trueman tends to get underfoot, at least in terms of his networking. He has helped to promote Aimee Byrd, who ought not be promoted, at least not in that way, and he blurbed Rachel Miller’s book, which was a howler, saying that it was a “refreshingly sane read,” which it wasn’t. The central thing he has going for him was his apparent coinage of the phrase Big Eva, for which we all owe him a debt of gratitude that we can never repay. But then, at other times, he has been critical of, as Miss Piggy would say, moi, which throws his judgment on everything into question, you know what I’m saying?
So there I was, all ambivalent like.
But then I decided to read this book anyhow, and I am really glad I did. This book is a real marvel. Take all the grains of salt you want, budget for any “yeah buts” you might need, subtract demerits on the basis of unfortunate blurbs, and really, I am not trying to damn with faint praise. This book is just wonderful. If the last two years has seemed to you to be a manuscript produced by a team of drunken chimpanzees trying to write a Walker Percy novel, and I don’t blame you, what you need is a book that has the explanatory power that this book has.
What philosophical and literary antecedents were necessary to produce a world in which phrases like “a man trapped in a woman’s body” made any kind of sense at all? Trueman raises this question, and answers it—wonderfully, lucidly, learnedly, carefully, and more. This book belongs in every pastor’s library. Trueman may go on to do or say other unfortunate things. I don’t care.