Out of the Blue by Mark Victor Hansen and Barbara Nichols


I have been reading this book a little at a time for several years.  I picked it up during a time when I was struggling with long term discouragement, even mild depression.   I was attracted by the fact that Mark Victor Hansen is one of the authors of the Chicken Soup Series which I love and by the subtitle of the book; Out of the Blue…Delight Comes Into Our Lives.  I knew I could use some of that.  So I started reading.   

I did find a very positive volume filled with encouragements for the reader.  A mix of popular psychology, positive thinking, common religious truth, inspirational stories, and unique suggestions, it is bound to present some helpful ideas for anyone struggling to stay optimistic.  It also has many awesome short quotes.  Here’s one, “The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve” (Albert Schweitzer p. 130).

After a brief introduction, the book is a collection of articles by various authors arranged Chicken
Soup style under selected chapter headings which cluster around the book’s theme.  Examples include Light Up the Sky, Reach for the Stars, the Sky’s the Limit, Out of the Blue and my personal favorite, 52 Ways to Ignite Delight.   Here’s a wild one from the latter.  Write an obvious facsimile of a million dollar check and send it to a loved one in a card telling them they mean more than that to you. That should make their day and probably yours too (p. 279)!

I do have one big caveat.  Theologically, I knew right away in the introduction that I would not like the religious perspective taken as the authors explained the basis for delight in life from numerous religious viewpoints as if all were equally valid.   This non-critical, whatever-you-like viewpoint does not square with Christian truth and teaching (John 14:6; Heb. 1:1-3; Acts 17:29-31).   I found it rather pervasive too.  However, it is not essential to the main idea of the book, to help lift spirits and point us to more ways to enjoy our lives.  In fact, in my view, taking such a lowest-common-denominator religious view hinders the authors, forcing them to neglect many Biblical passages about joy that would be helpful.  However, they have included several Biblical principles, often without exactly saying where they came from, such as the power and necessity of forgiveness in restoring joy. 

I am recommending this book for use by those mature enough to overlook its pluralistic religious viewpoint and just garner practical ideas for encouragement.  Mark Victor Hansen is a great encourager.

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