Sunday, February 5, 2017

Book Review: 'Blessed Are the Weird' by Jacob Nordby

Blessed Are the Weird is one of the most unique books that I have ever read. This book, written by Jacob Nordby, is not a self-help guide of any kind, but, rather, is a celebration and reflection of the creative spirit of mankind. Blessed makes the bold declaration that the world’s future will be shaped by creatives or ‘Weirdians’ as Nordby likes to call them. Is this what Dostoevsky meant when he said ‘beauty will save the world’? Nordby writes,

The only success now is living and creating a work-of-art life: unique, rich with meaning, naked of anything we don’t care about, and ruthless about carving out something absolutely real from a world that has gorged itself on fakeness and become critically ill from it. The only failure now is pulling back from that quest because of fear.

It certainly is true that the world has mostly lost itself in the chaos of the routine. We, in our day-to-day lives, hardly have the time to appreciate the beauty in creation.
Nordby starts the book with the following viral poem:

Blessed are the weird people —poets, misfits, writers, mystics heretics, painters & troubadours— for they teach us to see the world through different eyes
Blessed are those who embrace the intensity of life’s pain and pleasure, for they shall be rewarded with uncommon ecstasy.
Blessed are ye who see beauty in ugliness, for you shall transform our vision of how the world might be.
Blessed are the bold and whimsical, for their imagination shatters ancient boundaries of fear for us all.
Blessed are ye who are mocked for unbridled expression of love in all its forms, because your kind of crazy is exactly that freedom for which the world is unconsciously begging.
Blessed are those who have endured breaking by life, for they are the resplendent cracks through which the light shines.

The author celebrates the types of people (and other equivalents) mentioned in this poem, and he urges us to join in this celebratory tribal dance. He reminds us that, for a vast period in history, creatives, or ‘Weirdians’, were given elevated statuses in society by the authorities and rulers. These Weirdians were so cherished in society that they were able to get away by subtly taunting rulers and making fun of their policies. Sadly, today, as Nordby observes, many people of talent have sold their souls to the big money-making machine and become the entity we call ‘celebrity.’ In the wake of this soul-selling, we need to be artists of raw sincerity more than ever.

I have long been interested in a book such as this one. I consider myself a fellow Weirdian—I'm a painter and a creative writer. The art of painting and writing are, for me, the best ways to express the love of God to a broader audience.  The question you may be asking right now is : ‘has this book benefitted me in any way?’ The answer is a resounding yes, though it was difficult, at times, navigating through the more reflective parts in the later pages and trying to make sense. Perhaps, I will be able to understand more clearly during a second reading.

The author feeds us with reflections from his own journey; reading these parts will make you feel a lot for the writer and understand where he is coming from. He also regales us with a few fantastical tales which illustrates his points with great clarity. Nordby gives us lessons from both real and imaginary life. He takes us on a journey unlike any other, as all creatives do, and forces us to marvel at the beauty of the human soul and the magnificence of the ‘Great Everything.’ He fills his pages with delight, triumph, and sadness—things that make no sense to the rationale, yet are dear to the human heart. How I wish these things of the soul are held closer by the modern day church as well; it is why we need to read from Dostoevsky and Tolstoy just as much as we read from theologians and pastors. Who knows? Maybe, we’ll regain the daring colors that we had long lost in our thinking of God and his creation.

CLICK HERE to buy 'Blessed Are the Weird' on Amazon.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.