Review by Emmet O’Cuana
“Your Heavenly Father didn’t create you to live a life of mediocrity. He created you to live life in the faith lane.”
I have a feeling Pastor Houston has an amazing collection of dad-jokes for any occasion.
Having read Live Love Lead I find myself at an awkward juncture. How can I review a book that is written in such a way to obscure a critical reading? This feels less like a personal memoir from a well-known religious leader – the head of one of the fastest growing churches in Australia, itself a topic of much interest – than a collection of sermons.
Even there I find myself, as both a reader and reviewer, stymied. Because the faithful this book is aimed at are clearly familiar with the various shibboleths and allusions made. There are frequent mentions of the ‘spacious life’ offered by Jesus. As I am descended from several generations of Paddy Cooneys who faithfully tilled the same patch of land in County Cavan while observing their faith in secret, I find the concept of spiritual upward mobility, and grace in materialism, baffling.
It is that intersection of faith and fame within the pages of Live Love Lead that is most fascinating, if only for the circumspect manner Houston writes. A movie producer expresses an interest in capturing the joyfulness of a Hillsong event for a cinema audience. Who is the producer? I am not entirely clear, but the suggestion is quite an important one. A young woman sadly misses Christmas with her family, but thanks to an impromptu recording session, becomes a Hillsong record singing celebrity.
I am not suggesting that there is anything untoward about these anecdotal asides, but they are clearly more meaningful for those who are ‘on the square’.
Perhaps there we can see the confidence and self-assurance of Hillsong. From the opening chapter quotes of popular music tracks to the familiar tone of Houston himself, clearly this is a book intended for purchase by the many followers of this particular Pentecostal faith.