My book review of “40 Days of Decrease” by Alicia Britt Chole
I have mixed feelings about this book. First let me start with the good.
I know now how I will increase the meaning and celebration of my Easter this year. In the book, the fast for day 37, is to fast from your own voice. Set aside a time of silence. No talking, typing or texting for 1 hour, or for several hours, or even 1 day. Although, I plan to do this for a set time on the days of Good Friday, and Saturday both, and then I will celebrate on Easter Sunday by greeting the day with —
“He has risen from the dead!” (Matthew 28:7) “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is, and is to come.” (Revelation 4:8) (Both of these Scriptures were referenced in the book.)
The silence is so simple, and yet it speaks so loudly to honor the death and suffering of Jesus, who died for all of us, to save us from our own sins. And then to shout with joy on Easter Sunday! I thank the author for showing me this way to give more meaning to my Easter. I have never thought of this idea, so I am grateful. (Yes, I finished the book early, because I wanted to get my book review out ahead of Easter, in case anyone will want to read some of the book before Easter. This also gives me some space to practice the silence before Easter.)
In the book, the author goes through 40 days of fasts, but not food fasts, but behavior fasts. She would have us avoid certain behaviors, to find meaning and honor in Easter. I found this list of fasts very meaningful. I enjoyed the discussions and reflections on each day’s fast. I am confused though, as to why the author chose to have the reading each day from the Gospel of John, not match the discussion in the book for that day. It was odd. The readings were ahead of the book, so the reader is constantly shifting back and forth in the story as we read about how Jesus lived in those days before His death and resurrection.
Unfortunately, I also found the discussions on the history of lent to be distracting. I give a nod of appreciation for the author’s knowledge of the subject of lent. I wish this would have been a separate chapter, instead of being inserted into the discussion each day. Much of the discussion on the history of lent was too technical to be useful to me. I did enjoy the parts of the lent discussion where the meaning of lent is explained.
Although I liked the concept of the 40 day fasts for preparing for Easter, the distractions of the unmatched Bible verses, and the inserted discussions of lent history, reduced the meaningfulness of this book for me. This may be because I was not educated at a Christian college, and so did not know much about the history of lent. This may be true of other readers, too.
So, did this book help prepare me for Easter? Yes! Would this book be helpful to other readers to prepare for Easter, or to study the path Jesus walked on His way to Easter? Yes. I would suggest that anyone reading the book, adjust the readings in the book of John, to match the discussions in the book for each day. I think that would be much less confusing, and would make the discussions in the book more meaningful.
(I did receive a free copy of this book from the publisher, so that I could give an honest review of it.)