Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Full Sail by Beverly Pierce Strobel

Full Sail: A 21st Century Spiritual Cruise on Board the Mayflower by Bev erly Pierce Stroebel

So, I must admit that I didn’t really like Full Sail, though I did find some parts of it interesting. My first impression was that it was a social history of Puritan religion and how it affected U.S. institutions, law, and traditions today. In short I was expecting a more academic approach to the topic. Full Sail truly is more of a daily spiritual devotional guide than history.

The author has spilt up the chapters into logbook entries that correspond to major historical landmarks made by the Puritans, who sailed over on the Mayflower. Each chapter starts with a scripture, a wake-up call and briefing. The “wake-up call” usually involved famous, interesting, and on-topic quotes by historical leaders, writers, and figures. The “briefing” would introduce the topic the author wanted address through the lens of the puritan experiences and then turned into a social commentary on how the nation incorporated these values or ideas, and how the issues apply to the present day. Some of these briefing topics included: education, law enforcement and court systems, liberty, land, language, and literacy.

Many of the topics were treated rather superficially without much detail. The author quoted other people more often than I would have liked. I would have liked to hear more of her thoughts and opinions expressed.

I found a few of her "briefing" essays really interesting. I enjoyed reading the author’s essay on marriage. The essay focused a lot on how Christ has a marriage like relationship with those who are believers. It was an interesting comparison and fascinating to read.

After opening this way the author would list “Free Time” options where she encouraged readers to do service, ponder a certain theme, or some other activity that would incorporate the topic into devotional participants lives.

After free time was a “last briefing” in which the author includes hymn that applied to the topic and prayers. I’m really not a fan of written prayers, and so didn’t really like this section. I most especially didn’t like this section when it included a “cruise bonus” which 90% of the time was a scene from a screenplay, which was obviously the author’s pet project. These things were occasionally really difficult to read through. The dialogue was so fake, and writing often hit the reader over the head with an obvious theme. Really, it just wasn't something I was excited to be reading. A few scenes weren’t that bad, but most of them were pretty hard to get through, and there were a few that I gave up reading at all in order to move on to the next topic. There is a decent short story about teddy bears that was a nice break from screen plays, though.

Other points along the daily devotional could include a “cruise library visit,” which was a list of recommended books on the topic the author was addressing. Each chapter also included the introduction of each generation of the author’s ancestors. So, the book has a very strong Family History bent to it, and includes basic information on doing genealogical research. The author also repeats about four different times that her ancestor Mary Chilton was the first woman to set foot on Plymouth Rock, according to family oral traditions. I think she does a very good job at introducing the history and background of her ancestors and I found this to be rather interesting. Perhaps, because it was personal to the author and it becomes obvious how much research she had done to recreate the history and lives of these people in her mind. In fact, the main character in her screenplay excerpts is none other than Mary Chilton.

Each devotional ends with “covenant and dedications” which includes positive affirmations about the topic discussed, and a “night watch,” which included a list of scriptures to read.

I don’t think I would really recommend Full Sail to anyone I know, but it is a book that contains a lot of information. There is a large bibliography on Mayflower topics, including a reading list of books for children and young adults on the topic. A section on Genealogy resources, marriage resources, a list of information and organizations devoted to messianic Jews, a list of ministries, volunteer organizations, and humanitarian aid services are also included in the appendix.

The book has a lot of resources and talking points for those that are interested in presenting American themed spiritual discussions/lectures/sermons. It could also be a useful resource for those that are specifically interested Mayflower Pilgrims’ Family History. I don’t think I quite fit in the author’s target audience, but I hope I gave enough information about the style and format of the book so that those interested can make better decisions on purchasing it.

Bring it on communications send this book for me to review.

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