The final installment (for now) of some of the things that people have been saying about Earthen Vessels.
Cole Huffman, a pastor down in Memphis, did a little creative expansion on the tattoos chapter that is very much worth your time:
But I wonder if eschewing a tattoo can display what I’ll call “cultural modesty”? A lot of Christians in my generation and younger have adopted a cultural strategy of accommodation, finding in Paul’s 1 Corinthians 9:22 principle of “becoming all things to all people” a permission slip to participate in most everything the world does, just without going “too far.” (It is apparently self-evident where “that’s okay” ends and “too far” begins.) But this strategy has panned out a lot of iron pyrite (fool’s gold) for us. Anderson quotes Lauren Sandler, whom he calls “an outside observer [of evangelicals]”: “Young Evangelicals look so similar to denizens of every other strain of youth culture that, aside from their religious tattoos, the difference between them and the unsaved is invisible” (from her bookRighteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement, p. 6).I wonder if we might make more visible inroads with the world if we’re “marked” (pun intended) by humble restraint. This is what I mean by cultural modesty. I’m willing to bet you that a young tatted dude or dudette, encountering a tattoo-less contemporary, might actually find it more intriguing to hear from him that he gratefully (and of course, non-judgmentally) considers his body a temple of the Holy Spirit, rather than pulling up his sleeve to reveal a crying dove on his shoulder, “Because, like, you know, a dove descended on Jesus when He was baptized, plus I also love that Prince song, ‘When Doves Cry.’”
“Anderson touches on many important and controversial topics, including tattoos and homosexuality, and while he treats these subjects with care and grace, he occasionally has a narrow view on some subjects. This was true of his chapter on tattoos: while he traces the history (ancient and recent) of tattoos fairly well, his analysis of the question “What should a Christian do with this information?” felt very clearly to come from his particular demographic. His conclusion that tattoos are primarily a result of consumerism and individualism may have some compelling evidence, but there are numerous other reasons that people (as individuals or as groups) get tattoos that I felt could have garnered more weight. Particularly a discussion of getting tattoos as a part of a group (be that a gang, a church, or even just a tight group of friends) would have provided an interesting addition to the chapter.”