The Review Is …

We used to know how to complete that line. The review is in! But today it seems there are other words that are more fitting or more common. The review is non-existent, comes to mind. Or the review is pure promotion. Or the review is dangerous. Or the review is tainted.

You see, I’m aware of a couple on-line “battles” centered on reviews or reviewing. One such controversy questions the objectivity of reviewers who receive free books. Another questions a specific review that doesn’t take a strong “thou-shalt-not” stand to a certain movie.

Of course, there is the fact that writers for some time have been decrying the lack of review publications, especially for Christian fiction. In truth, more and more newspapers are dropping book reviews from their content, so it seems that no review is more commonly the truth for many books.

I suspect this is why blog tours have increased in popularity and why authors encourage readers to post reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The beauty is, these kinds of reviews come from readers. Not professional reviewers who may or may not have the mindset of the target audience.

To be sure, anyone can write a review with wrong motives, even professional reviewers. I suspect that’s why fewer and fewer formal reviews exist—readers have learned not to trust reviewers who have a track record for pushing their own preferences or, in a worst case, foisting a personal agenda on the public.

In contrast, blog tour reviewers and reader reviewers on book-selling sites have nothing to gain by pandering to their own whimsy. People will simply tune them out, and in the case of bloggers, stop visiting their sites, so there’s nothing to gain.

A blogger who cares at all for his visitors is more apt to give a balanced and meaningful review than not. In addition, he is not setting himself up as an expert which eliminates the problems swirling around the other review controversy.

This debate centers on a publication giving the pros and cons of a particular movie rather than posting a “not recommended” warning. I haven’t read the review, seen the movie, or read much of the confrontational posts or comments. I don’t think it’s necessary to be familiar with all the particulars because we’ve seen it all before. “Don’t read Gone with the Wind because it uses a cuss word.” “Don’t read Harry Potter because it has witches.”

These kinds of “reviews” are dealing with externals while ignoring heart issues. What’s more they wish to act as the Authority, to step in and make a declaration about what the true-blue followers should Stay Away From. For Christians, this seems antithetical to our stated belief that the Bible is the authority for life and godliness.

To review or not to review? By all means, Review. Do so with honesty and candor and kindness. If you’re a believer, do so with Scriptural relevance. Then let your review stand as one piece of the public record that may influence those who trust your opinion. But don’t lose sight that your opinion is nothing more than your opinion. It may be informed. It may come from your vast experience. It may be right. But in the end, those who read your reviews still have to decide what to do about what they read.

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