Book Review: The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Earley

Happy Friday!

Somehow this week feels longer than some, even though Monday was a holiday. My school started back up (all online for now) on Wednesday, and we’ve certainly hit the ground running. Four classes while working full time is going to be a lot of work! The material looks interesting though, so I’m sure the amount won’t be a problem. Other than that, the inauguration was Wednesday, and I participated in a virtual game night on Thursday. It seemed at times that there was a lot going on, but looking back, not much actually happened of note.

Today’s book review is my first five-star read of 2021! This nonfiction book is helpful, practical, easy to read, logical, and theologically sound – a winning combination if I ever saw one. Mornings reading this alongside Spurgeon were peaceful, hopeful, and pragmatic. Read on for my full review!

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About the Book

The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction

Title: The Common Rule

Author: Justin Whitmel Earley

Genre: Nonfiction, Christian Living, Healthy Lifestyle

Synopsis: The modern world is a machine of a thousand invisible habits, forming us into anxious, busy, and depressed people. We yearn for the freedom and peace of the gospel, but remain addicted to our technology, shackled by our screens, and exhausted by our routines. But because our habits are the water we swim in, they are almost invisible to us. What can we do about it?

The answer to our contemporary chaos is to practice a rule of life that aligns our habits to our beliefs. The Common Rule offers four daily and four weekly habits, designed to help us create new routines and transform frazzled days into lives of love for God and neighbor. Justin Earley provides concrete, doable practices, such as a daily hour of phoneless presence or a weekly conversation with a friend.

These habits are “common” not only because they are ordinary, but also because they can be practiced in community. They have been lived out by people across all walks of life—businesspeople, professionals, parents, students, retirees—who have discovered new hope and purpose. As you embark on these life-giving practices, you will find the freedom and rest for your soul that comes from aligning belief in Jesus with the practices of Jesus.

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My Thoughts

I flew through this book. It came to me as a surprise during a Christmas book exchange, and although I had this on my to-read list, it wasn’t a terribly high priority. So, finding it as a perfect fit for my January mornings paired with a page of Spurgeon and a cup of coffee came as a pleasant surprise. I almost always look forward to my morning quiet time (what I sometimes refer to as “preventative introverting”) but this book made getting up even more worthwhile. 

The pace and general setup of American life tends to rub me the wrong way when I really sit down and think about it. The Common Rule takes a look at some of the aspects of this, then lays out a plan for creating new habits to foster a lifestyle more in line with Christian convictions without abandoning the positive aspects of modern American life. The author shares intensely personal stories about implementing these habits and their impact on his life, which makes the book easier to read and not at all dry. At the end of each section is a breakdown of the habit discussed, simple examples of how to put it into practice, and a few references for further consideration. 

The Verdict

I find The Common Rule to be very useful and refreshing. It has a solid Christian foundation, but rather than harping on the basics, the author grows from this foundation. The analogy of a trellis is interwoven throughout the book, and it makes a lot of sense. You have to build a support system for good habits to grow on; The Common Rule provides practical suggestions for doing so. Somewhat surprisingly, this is my first five-star read of 2021.

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How was your week, Reader? Are you learning anything in this season, formally or informally? What was the last book that surprised you with how good it is?

Until the next chapter,

Jana

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