The title was censored, but Mark Manson’s writing isn’t. He’s hilariously raw and random, assuming you’re able to laugh at his somewhat-regularly inappropriate brand of humour. If so, you’ll find his honesty is refreshing. I found myself physically feeling better while reading the book. He incites a kind of freedom in his realness.
Manson is real in every sense of the word. He’s honest and clear about where he’s at and where he’s been. He seems to hit the nail on the head when it comes to some major issues of our day in Western culture. We aren’t raw enough. We avoid suffering when we should lean into it. We try and do everything and be everything when we would be much happier living simple lives focused on the important things, giving less you-know-whats to the unimportant things.
The title of the book is actually ironic. It’s not that we care too much about everything. It’s that we care too much about the wrong things. And we only have so many cares to give.
Manson’s arguments are mostly philosophical and anecdotal, which is both a strength and a weakness. It’s a weakness because there’s not necessarily research behind it all. But it’s a strength because you journey with him, laugh with him, fear with him, cry with him and celebrate with him. This is one of those books that you just feel so good about every time you read it, and you’ll be bittersweet about finishing.
Many of the points you’ll absorb from this book will feel like the classic “I always knew this but you put it into words for me” scenario. It just feels right. However, much of it is ancient truth made contemporary. It’s not really new stuff, which is probably just as well.
Christians have actually been saying many of these things for a long time. The need for values based on correct principles? Exchanging idols of success, sex or approval for true, ultimate or eternal values? Embracing suffering and learning through it? All classic biblical themes, even though one might argue that Manson is missing a very necessary foundation that the bible has: there is no God, seemingly, in any of his [bleep]-giving, and therefore no ultimate basis for why certain [bleep]s matter more than others. Nor, in fact, is there any basis to really think anything is worth caring about at all.
I also think some of his points miss the mark. One of his arguments is that we are always a little bit wrong. That’s true enough, I think, as is the principle that follows: over time, society learns more and more. We’re all just figuring it out. But he draws a hugely generalized implication: we must always therefore be uncertain (note the irony: he is quite certain of uncertainty). This goes too far and too broad. I understand the need for an intellectual humility that is open to change – it’s a principle I live by – but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things we can hold on to as convictions, even if we are open to challenges. Manson himself would probably agree with me, but I think he needed more clarity and nuance here. The last thing we need is a generation of people unwilling to hold to convictions. I think that’s exactly what has led to our generation even needing a book like this.
There is however still great value in Manson’s contemporary edition of ancient wisdom. It’s relevant and accessible but also timeless. Its well-written and weighty, and yet doesn’t take itself too seriously. And for me, as a Christian, it’s very interesting to hear a secular voice speak up about these things. My fellow Christians would do well to read and understand voices like Mark Manson’s in order to understand where our culture is at, how it is changing, and how we can interact with that change.
Furthermore, Manson is an example of how religion, and Christianity in particular, can go bad or at least be misunderstood or misapplied. Much of his childhood difficulties and the [bleep]s that he was giving sound like they come from a legalistic background. Sounds like Mark didn’t grow up at a gospel-centered church.
I sincerely hope that in time Mark Manson begins to see that his experiences are actually inherently valuable because they’re part of a designed world and an Authored story. I hope he sees that his insights have been available for thousands of years in the inexhaustible wisdom of the Bible. I hope he understands that the heart-change that he is pursuing is catalyzed and consummated in relationship with the one true God and the good news He gives.