I just recently finished reading My Beautiful Idol by Pete Gall. The book is in the same vein as Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. This makes it tough, because Miller’s book is one of the most popular Christian books of the last 10 years. So Gall’s book will be compared to a book that is simply something untouchable. So let me start with this…Gall’s book is not Blue Like Jazz.
They call this genre “spiritual memoir.” I don’t love this genre, but it does make for a solid read. Pete has lived a full life, even at his young age, and this really comes through in the book. I was grabbed from the beginning because I could relate with Pete’s feelings of purposelessness while he was making lots of money in the business world of Chicago. After leaving that scene, Pete heads into the world of uncertainty in Colorado, while working for various churches and organizations, and even attending seminary for a while. I would say the whole book flows out of Pete’s lack of purpose for life during his time in Chicago. That is a message and a feeling we can all relate to.
A theme that permeates the entire book is what “idols” are. We often think of idols as material possessions but I love where Gall goes with this. The idol is never an object, it is always something behind the thing. He calls his idols comfort, a relationship, and many other feelings and ideological attachments.
This book wasn’t easy for me to flow with. That is just part of the nature of books within the memoir genre. They are as disjointed as anyone’s life, including mine. I think this style really jives with non-linear thinkers. Me, being a very linear thinking person, had a hard time with him going all over the place (believe me, he does). However, I this can be a good read for those scattered thinkers. Gall says things that force you to think and does it the lens of his life, which is just as confusing as yours.
Many of you might question Pete’s message but his honesty and true authenticity ring true in each chapter. Pete says that to achieve authenticity we must forsake “our deepest sin and our love for our most beautiful idol: to be our own god.”
Pete seems to have discovered something by the end of the book because he says: “We all want to be loved, and we all want to be seen, and we all hate being made invisible by the agendas and social regulations of people and structures that don’t see us for who we are. We want to express who we are, and to be loved through those definitions…”