My daughter, Shannon, loved soccer. She began playing as a child in Texas, and when we moved to Ohio, she got connected with a great program called Ambassadors Football Club. We encountered many good people and excellent coaches, and one of the biggest disappointments of our move to Ohio was having to leave the Ambassadors program.
I’ll admit to a fair bit of skepticism; I remember Aaron as an incredibly charismatic coach and speaker, and a few of the Big World Little Ball videos I’ve seen were funny and intriguing, but I wasn’t sure about his writing credentials. To be honest, I expected another How-To-Have-A-Cool-Spiritual-Life! with a dose of cheerleading; it’s been a long time since I’ve seen Aaron, and I didn’t have much to go on in terms of what his written work might reflect, except I knew that he was an advocate for Jesus. So, my expectations were not – shall we say – outrageous.
What a wonderful surprise. Seriously.
Aaron sets up the book by likening an outrageous life to Jesus’s declaration that he comes to give us abundant life. This whole challenge to ‘Awake to the Unexpected Adventures of Everyday Faith’ (the subtitle) was not what I imagined – which, I confess, was some sort of step-by-step chapter book on how to love Jesus!! and be cool!! and do over-the-top awesome things!!! and soccer!!!
Not at all, and thank you for that, Aaron, because I’m just too stinking tired to try to be more outrageous.
That’s not the point, not at all. This is a book of stories – great stories – and by stories, I mean it is like sitting down over a good meal with this guy and listening to him tell you, firsthand, about where he was last week, and who he met, and what happened. It’s not pushy, preachy, or cheesy. It’s just cool. Aaron is an adventurer, a world traveller, with access and experience in places I’ve heard of but know little about, and this book is crammed full of sentences and paragraphs that are amazing, intriguing, and funny; and they teach me a bit about these places and people that I don’t know much about. The genius of these stories and the way they are woven together is that they arouse tremendous empathy and a real sense of care, for people and places I’ve never seen. There’s a thread of compassion and connection through these bits and pieces of everyday faith and awareness.
Here’s a short excerpt that kind of lets you know what you’re in for, from a tale about an invitation to travel to the Republic of Congo to play soccer against a team of pygmies:
One player had decided that since the pygmies play in the nude, he didn’t need to pack many clothes, so he filled his suitcase with five hundred individually packaged Slim Jims instead.
He hangs out with some interesting people.
Outrageous is a collection of Aaron Tredway’s stories, and the cool thing is that the outrageous claim rests simply on those stories, and there’s enough there to say, Hey, dude, seriously: that’s outrageous.
And they all point to something Divine, Something or Somebody bigger than what we see, and that’s the resounding point of this book – and of his life, I think. Aaron doesn’t try to tell us what an outrageous life should be, or even give us a few pointers on how to have one. He just tells his stories, and that’s enough.
I really encourage you to pick up this book (find it here). It’s encouraging and intelligent; it doesn’t pander. And it’s authentic. And funny.
And outrageous, which I find inspiring.