Your Secret Name (my review)

I recently finished Kary Oberbrunner’s (@karyoberbrunner) latest,  Your Secret Name. This is my stab at a review. I’d love help with how to review books. I’m asking, in essence, for a review of my review. Goteamgo.

This book gets a resounding ‘that was very good’ from me. It wasn’t his best (Journey Toward Relevance and The Fine Line are both better) but it was, in a word, important. Kary (I met him once in 2003 while he spoke at the University of Florida’s FCA, so yea, we’re on a first name basis) tackles a very meaty subject – identity – both in an exegetical study of Scripture and through personal experience.

‘Your Secret Name’ follows the life of Jacob, younger twin of Esau born to the patriarch Isaac. The book takes us through the Birth Name of Jacob, that which was bestowed on him at birth: deceiver, literally ‘heal grabber’. Jacob was labeled with his birth name, and, well, lived up – down? – to it. Oberbrunner tells us that we, like Jacob, were tabbed with a birth name, and, if we’re not careful, we too will live a life limited by the expectations of that name.

Oberbrunner goes on to tell us that we each have Given Names; names that people attach to us based on performance (or lack thereof), looks, impressions, stereotypes. We are shown how Jacob was given names that clung to him like lead weights, and he never seemed quite ready to embrace the truth that God had something much much bigger for him. And our author/guide opens up to us as well, showing how he was given names based on his stuttering, his rise and fall in wrestling, his perfectionism, and his own destructive addictions.

I was tracking fairly well with where Oberbrunner wanted me to go with the parallels between Jacob’s story and his own, but was thoroughly blown away – in the best sense – by the depth of honesty he showed through his own experience. God showed Jacob and Kary (and us!) that He had more for them, and each of these men took steps toward that new, Secret Name, and yet were still drug down by their own devices and lack of trust.

Who I would recommend to read this book:
– Those who have struggled with issues of identity
– Those who feel crippled by others’ expectations (high or low)
– Fans of Oberbrunner

Why a student pastor should read this book:
– Your students deal with issues of identity
– Your students need help seeing that their identity in Christ is more important than self-esteem or labels by those around them
– You need to be reminded that God is still in the business of guiding and dispensing wisdom, and this book is a good reminder



One response to “Your Secret Name (my review)

  1. nice post wayne…good job too on the review. learned in seminary that “writing is re-writing”…and too that you have to write. grateful for your perspective. was teaching our youth last nite about identity in the context of living out the beatitudes…your reasons for reading…especially for youth (and the rest of us) are dead on.

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