Book review : People in glass houses
People in glass houses : an insider’s story of a life in & out of Hillsong (Black Inc. 2007) is Tanya Levin’s perception of Hillsong Church in Sydney. Her impressions are somewhat limited by the fact she only attended regularly for five years between 1985-1989 when she was a teenager. After that she attended spasmodically. Consequently the book has a narrow perspective. It appears her adolescent opinions have been set in concrete and it seems she only looked for information which would confirm those thoughts. Further research mainly focused on a dozen or so people who were disillusioned with the church and unfortunately overlooked the thousands who were happy, including her own parents who have attended for over 20 years.
Tanya’s hostile attitude appears to stem from the fact she couldn’t manipulate God into running the world the way she wanted. In particular she was immensely disappointed about not getting into a law course at university, despite trying to earn favours with God by prayer and fasting. I am mystified as to how Tanya came to have such a warped idea about God.
I have been to Hillsong a few times when on family holidays. I have read their material. I have family and friends who have attended their conferences. Pentecostal churches do not suit everyone’s temperament, they don’t suit mine though I enjoy the occasional visit. Tanya seemed to enjoy some time she spent with the Salvation Army and why she didn’t continue in that branch of Christianity is another mystery.
The only explanation I found for the apparent cynical tone of the book is a conversation she had with one of the pastors while attending Hillsong. He told her that God wanted to deal with her past hurts and rejections. Tanya neither denies nor explains this yet she certainly writes like someone who is deeply hurt. At one point Tanya writes, “I didn’t really know when I had become a Christian” and I wondered, is it because she never has?