household gods book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

Household Gods begins with the premise that in our modern 21st century lives, we have idols…in our homes. They may not look like a golden calf or a statue of some foreign god, but indeed these idols may look like our dreams, our careers and all the trappings of a successful evangelical family. These idols may look like ideas…a set of ideals that we adhere to and find necessary for happiness and joy.

This book is written in a very conversational style–almost like you are chatting while hanging out in their living room. The stories flow freely and sometimes run down rabbit trails like a conversation among friends. From the beginning, I found myself laughing out loud at the author’s characterizations of different groups of people typically found in evangelical circles: sport’s dads, homeschool families (we homeschool and have a big family so his over generalizations were funny..and true), Christian high school and college life, women’s  Bible studies and many more. I could identify with so many of their experiences.

Some books are written to teach and some are written to tell. This one falls in the latter camp. The authors share many of their own personal struggles in an effort to highlight problems of idolatry.  Some of the stories ranged from funny to deeply personal. However, at times I felt almost bogged down by their style of writing one example after another because the idols they struggle with are not the same as mine. The concepts they were sharing were so tied to the images of sports, a writing career or other very specific struggles that at times I could not easily correlate them to my life. They are clearly very passionate and on a spiritual journey that is NOT tied up in a neat bow by the end of the book. In that sense I did enjoy it. They are wrestling and invite the reader to do the same.

After reading through the whole book, I think the overall message can be summarized by two words: identity and idolatry. Where we find our identity determines what we worship. If we find our value and worth reflected out of the image of Almighty God, we find our completeness regardless of our personal circumstances. If however, we look to those good things in our lives (family, career, dreams, ideals) to determine our identity, we are giving them a job they cannot do. We are giving them the place of God, and in this way, we worship or idolize them.

So who does this book target or seek to benefit?  Because it discusses household idolatry and centers much of the topic on family, I think those currently raising children would most enjoy many of the ideas discussed. More specifically, those who grew up in the evangelical church, have a strong affinity for athletics and find themselves struggling with identity and purpose will likely relate to many of the specific struggles shared by this couple. It is not a prescriptive “self help” book nor a heavier theology type book and can be enjoyed as an easier read on a significant Biblical topic.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by NavPress. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.