Thursday, April 09, 2015

Can We Be Unoffendable?



If you just look at the title of Brant Hansen's Unoffendable- How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better, it appears to be another self help book designed to teach the reader how to develop a tough skin.  That assumption couldn't be further from the truth.

The book is written from a Christian point of view, but even skeptics will be able to get something out of this book and enjoy it in the process.  Hansen isn't preachy or teachy. He doesn't even come off as an expert on the subject.  In fact, each page is laced with humility which is very appropriate for the subject matter because through the pages, we discover how important humility is in being unoffendable.

The author exposes “righteous anger” for what it is, problematic and even an illusion.

I used to think it was incumbent upon a Christian to take offense. I now think we should be the most refreshingly unoffendable people on a planet that seems to spin on an axis of offense.

Forfeiting our right to anger makes us deny ourselves, and makes us others-centered. When we start living this way, it changes everything.

Hansen chides those that want to cherry-pick scriptures justifying their anger and has a firm answer to them, but of course he does it without taking offense.

The unoffendable message is given to the reader packed with humorous and heart touching stories told in Hansen’s quirky, but charming way.  He draws on Christian authors and artists and isn’t shy about picking on evangelical culture, as much as he does himself.

I have to admit that I was skeptical about the book going into it.  Sure, I bought into the premise  - which perhaps puts me a step ahead of the crusaders in our midst, but I wasn’t sure about the pragmatic quality of the thesis.  In other words, while I agree anger and offense aren’t good ideas on many levels, there doesn’t seem to be a choice in the matter for most of us.  I thought of it as a traveler going down the road looking for Unoffendable City.  If he stops at a local filling station to ask for directions, he would probably get the unhelpful response, “Sorry, buddy, but you just can’t get there from here.”

Hansen agrees with me AND also disagrees:

 And while I thought the ideal of choosing to be “unoffendable” was ludicrous, I’ve tried it.    And I'm not perfect at it, but I’m much, much better than I used to be. I just let stuff go.  I go into situations thinking, I’m not going to be offended.  No matter what.

What I found out as I approached the end of the book was that Brant Hansen is right.  I was not as prone to be offended in my daily life as I was before reading.  Sure, I had times where the gut reaction of offense wanted to surface, but from reading the book being unoffendable wasn't quite as difficult as it was before and will probably get even easier day by day unless I turn loose of the concept.  I do not plan to do that because I prefer peace in my life rather than strife.

I whole-heartedly recommend Unoffendable by Brant Hansen. Although it helped me a great deal, it doesn’t come off as a self-help book.  It is more like a memoir or an amusing conversation with an interesting friend at a coffee shop. It was so enjoyable that I was always ready for another cup.

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