Answering Criticisms of my Review of Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts"

In December 2016, I received a lengthy comment on my review of “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp. I chose not to publish the comment at that time because to do so would have required a response. I was not sure how to approach the commenter and therefore put it aside. But I never forgot the comment's opening words:

Firstly, it's not a book of theology. 

My original review was written nearly 4 years ago and in that time I have given little thought to Ann Voskamp and her large number of followers. This week I revisited her website to see how things had changed. Less than one week ago and to coincide with Easter, she had published an excerpt from her new book. It started thus:

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Review of “Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson” by Daniel Mark Epstein

A biography of such an unusual person was never going to be a straightforward task and Daniel Mark Epstein successfully portrays her life.

We begin with Aimee Kennedy and rehearse the stories that she herself told about her childhood. We observe the transformation first to Aimee Semple, the wife of a Pentecostal missionary; then to Aimee Semple McPherson, the housewife who will not be tied down and leaves her husband to embark on her own evangelistic tours. Between the large-scale events at Angelus Temple, we examine her mysterious disappearance, the breakdown of the relationship with her mother, her daughter’s divorce, Aimee’s short-lived third marriage, the law suit with her daughter until the rather sudden ending - she took too many sleeping pills and never woke up.

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"Doctor Barnardo" Reviewed

This is not really a biography of Thomas Barnardo. It does include material related to his family background, but the only further information is notice of his marriage and the births and deaths of his children. Neither is it a detailed study of the work done by the Mission. The author does not discuss the practicalities of day to day running of the homes from the perspective of child or guardian. Instead, he looks at the work through the challenges of organisation, administration and finance.

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Review: "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp

This book is about Ann Voskamp’s quest for self-fulfillment. 

Married, with six healthy children, and living on a farm, she is not happy. And she wants to be happy. She wants to feel loved, known and understood. She wants to feel the beauty of life and joy in every moment. 

We might question whether she has the right to expect such total harmony on this side of heaven, imperfect sinner that she is. We might say that she put her shoulder to the harness long ago, through marriage and child-bearing, and she ought to plough the furrow she has chosen. But Ann Voskamp does not question her right to happiness. Indeed, she cannot question it because her salvation depends upon it.

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