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Once I saw the description of the author, which began with the words “Armed with the wit of a native New Yorker,” I knew this was going to be a fantastic book. As a native New Yorker, sarcasm is my native language! Nice to see a fellow New Yorker writing a book. He’s even from Long Island!
Faithwords describes the book this way: “CJ Casciotta will help you identify your God-given uniqueness and teach you how to use your individuality to impact the world.” As a society, we’ve been taught that weird is a bad thing. Casciotta actually challenges us to think about how often we use the word “weird.” When we say that word, it usually implies something is not easily explained. Even though for us we consider that a negative thing, according to Casciotta, being “weird” isn’t necessarily wrong.
The book serves as a challenge for those who are sick of living complacent lives. They are sick of the Same. As a matter of fact, Casciotta wants us to challenge the Same (which he capitalizes throughout the book). He wants us to pursue the Sacred Weird, the other-wordliness that humans were created to possess.
Get Weird is split into three parts, which go by different names in the book but are described as the following: “It’s OK to be weird,” “We need your weird,” and “Go be weird.” The first part of the book illustrates our individual need to express ourselves in our own creative weirdness. The second part demonstrates how society needs weird people, highlighting specific people who were weird and yet changed the world through it. The third part encourages the reader to make a difference in her own unique way, embracing her weird, and fulfilling God’s calling on her life.
The word “weird” grabbed my attention when I first looked at the cover. However, as I’m reading the book, there is still a connotation that “weird” invokes in my brain. It’s different, but it’s strange. It’s awkward. It doesn’t make me comfortable. As much as I don’t like those feelings, Casciotta claims that those feelings change the course of history. Martin Luther King rubbed people the wrong way with his talks of diversity and acceptance of other people. Mister Rogers was unlike his contemporaries who hit each other with pies on television. Even Jesus, the hero and foundation of our faith, refused to be like the culture in which he was raised, teaching His disciples to live holy lives, “other” lives. I don’t like the look, the smells, the taste that “weird” invokes, but the story that God is writing in all of us is that the people who are least expected to succeed will transform our cultures and lead us into victory.
While I read the book, I unexpectedly received some free parenting advice. Children have this innate desire to be creative. Their minds are forming, and their imagination takes them on wild rides on a minute-by-minute basis. There is no limit to what their minds can accomplish, because they haven’t been taught that their ideas are “weird” (the bad connotation of weird). My one take-away from this book is to encourage creativity in my future children and the children that I oversee in our church’s girls ministry.
There is a cute viral video of a two-year-old baking a cake with her mom. When I first watched the video, I had my skeptic thoughts, the most prominent being, “She’s making a mess!” But after I read this book, I watched the video again. As the little girl poured an two entire containers of sprinkles on a tiny cake, I realized that she was using her creativity. She wanted a cake with lots of sprinkles on it, so she made a mess to make that happen, but she did it. I applaud her mother for letting her do that, and I applaud any parent that encourages creativity in their children. We’re so afraid of children making messes that we squash their creativity in the process. I’m choosing now to allow my children and the girls entrusted to me to be freely creative and freely weird.
CJ Casciotta has a ton of resources on his website. You can also get his book, which will be released September 11th, on the FaithWords website.