Skip to content ↓

Embracing Obscurity

Book Reviews Collection cover image

I occasionally write under a pseudonym. There are some things I feel like I can say, or maybe even ought to say, that wouldn’t be wise to contribute under my own name. And so there have been a handful of times over the years that I’ve written under a pseudonym. There are several complications that come with writing under a pen name, chief among them that it is difficult to interact with people who appreciate and respond to what I’ve written. Unless I want to create an entire identity for this character, complete with email address and Facebook profile, I have no capacity to respond to those who have questions or concerns.

There is another issue that, sadly, tends to bother me more. A couple of things I have written under this other name have been well-received and I have found it surprisingly difficult to allow the accolades to go to a non-existent person. I’ve got pride problems, I guess, and want some of that recognition for myself. In its fullest form, I can see that I almost feel like it’s a waste to write something clever or something helpful that doesn’t, in the end, elevate my name. That sounds pathetic as I write it, but I think it’s true, at least on one level.

The author of the new book Embracing Obscurity spotted this same pride problem in his own life and responded by writing an entire book as simply Anonymous. In the book’s opening pages he admits to fantasies in which he is outed and receives the praise that he desires, at least on one level. And yet he has done all he can to shield his own identity, thus avoiding the ridiculous problem of receiving accolades, of receiving a wider platform, for a book that deals with obscurity. Like the panel of well-known leaders who discussed celebrityism at this year’s Together for the Gospel event, even discussing the subject carries with it a certain level of irony.

At a time of Christian celebrityism, Embracing Obscurity is a call to “become nothing in the light of God’s everything.” In a culture where so many people fear being underrated, where so many people feel they deserve recognition, this is just one of what I hope will be several calls to be willing–eager even–to be unrecognized and insignificant in the eyes of men. Though I trust this book is not the final word on the matter, I consider it a helpful opening salvo in the battle against a culture of Christian celebrity.

Anonymous begins with a reasoned call for obscurity simply in the light of being just one of seven billion people on the earth. Statistically, each of us is insignificant. But then we know that as beings created by God, created in the image of God, we could scarcely have more significance. So Anonymous draws our minds to the gospel where we see that our deepest significance is not found in our status or celebrity, but in being God’s image bearers. Not only that, but through the cross we are released to live what may seem insignificant lives so that we draw attention to Christ. Each of us, through the cross, can celebrate obscurity when Christ is elevated. Only in light of what Christ has done are we able to find joy in obscurity. This is the central message of the book and the most important takeaway.

Embracing Obscurity is a noble and well-timed attempt to advance the conversation about where we will find our identity and how we will understand Christian celebrity. It is well worth reading and well worth pondering.


  • Molded in the Masters Hands

    Molded in the Master’s Hands

    Peter lives in the shadow of Paul. When we think of the early church, when we think of the Apostles, when we think of the doctrine of the New Testament, our minds probably go first to Paul. And perhaps rightly so, since he is responsible for the majority of the didactic parts of the New…

  • A La Carte Friday 2

    A La Carte (July 5)

    A La Carte: Kenya’s eco-tax revolt / Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her own words / Thomas Jefferson, the Baptists, and a giant block of cheese / It truly rots the bones / Should a Christian get cremated? / Is the Bible pro-slavery? / Book sale / and more.

  • A La Carte Thursday 1

    A La Carte (July 4)

    A La Carte: Zoomers and the future of the church / Good sex starts with the heart / Political ideology vs. science / The sacrifices of a wife / Thou shalt not catastrophize / What happens when we trust God for the next step? / and more.

  • Trusting God in the Uncertainties of Life

    Trusting God in the Uncertainties of Life

    There are some things I’m good at. Whether by nature, nurture, or hard practice, I have accumulated some skills and been given some talents. But I’m not good at everything of course. Not nearly. One thing I’m very poor at is …

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (July 3)

    A La Carte: Jesus Calling and the PCA / Why do we believe so many lies about heaven? / Kevin DeYoung’s theological explainer / Ancestor worship in the church / Dear little one / Thoughts on being a Christian writer / Kindle device and book deals / and more.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (July 2)

    A La Carte: Growing older with wisdom, not bitterness / The bestselling reference Bible / Two new songs / The calling of motherhood for the worrisome mother / Beware the emotional prosperity gospel / Doomed to final frustration / Logos and Kindle sales / and more.