The Vertical Self: How Biblical Faith Can Help Us Discover Who We Are in An Age of Self Obsession

The Vertical Self: How Biblical Faith Can Help Us Discover Who We Are in An Age of Self Obsession

by Mark Sayers
3.7 18

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The Vertical Self: How Biblical Faith Can Help Us Discover Who We Are in An Age of Self Obsession 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
J_Renee_Archer More than 1 year ago
In his non-fiction title, The Vertical Self, Sayers explains how culture has moved us away from who God wants us to be and turned us towards a self-absorbed lifestyle. He calls this way of life "horizontal" and claims we need to be "vertical." A horizontal self looks to those on the same level as him/her for self-image. A vertical self looks to a higher being, God, for identity. Sayers states his case for how far society has moved away from looking to God for our purpose and identity. This book is not light reading and some sections are difficult to wade through. I felt like Sayers had numerous examples, stories and situations to defend his theory of society being horizontal to the point that it was doom and gloom. There was not enough teaching, encouraging and support for the vertical self theory to balance the book. Chapter after chapter explained what we are doing wrong and why it's wrong but, there were few pages leading me to the better alternative or convincing me I need the better way. The majority of the book told me I need fixing rather than telling me how to fix myself. The Vertical Self has a somewhat narrow target audience. First, the audience must be Christian otherwise it could be quite offensive. Second, the reader must open him/herself to the negative description of Christians today who live a horizontally. That said, The Vertical Self would be a good resource for youth and young adult leaders. It would, also, make a useful tool for new and young Christians as they discern how being a Christian looks and feels in everyday life. Sayers is convicted and passionate about people needing to alter their thinking in order to live vertically. I commend Sayers for his enthusiasm and zeal regarding the subject and I believe his theories are worth consideration. I received a complimentary copy of The Vertical Self from Thomas Nelson Publishers as a participant in their book review blogger program.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have you ever wondered whether or not you are sexy, cool or glamorous? C'mon now. If you're human, you've probably measured yourself according to these standards more than you care to admit. In the first half of this book, author Mark Sayers exposes the hollowness of theses popular Western philosophies as they trumpet their destructive calls to today's Christians. Sayers calls these philosophies our "horizontal self" - using the mirror of peers to reflect good or bad, right or wrong in ourselves. While his descriptions of the "horizontal self" are well-stated, they are not well-supported with accompanying research and references as I would have liked. Instead, says Sayers, Christians should possess a vertical view of self, a judgment based on God's perspective rather than man's. Sayers explains this "vertical self" in the second half of his presentation. He corrects his lack in the first half of the book by now providing effective supporting material for his presentation. This book is for the new believer or for those nearing belief. It is not a challenging read. Neither is it a theological study. It does encourage self-examination regarding terms used by the author. The book concludes with a study guide that can be used as a basis for the reader's self-analysis or as a guide to small group discussions.
JCalhoun More than 1 year ago
The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers The Vertical self is a strong yet easy read that promises alot of challenges. The subject of this book focuses on two ways we can live out life. The horizontal self is represented by the way we live in accordance to the cultures we are surrounded by. We live in a media driven world that lets us feel that we are measured by what society considers the norm. the Vertical self is how we should live when it comes to God. Sayers focuses on how we as God's creation should live and see ourself in accord to God's will in our life. God is our measuring stick. Through suggestion and illustration Mark gives us views on how we can overcome the lure of this world and keep our eyes on God. This book is a great book for youth and would make a great discussion in youth groups. This is not a self help book but more of a road map to get your focus off of the world that will always let you down, and focus on almighty God.
LucilleCO More than 1 year ago
In a time when branding and social media are so popular, this book reminds us that most of us are striving to create images of ourselves that will only leave us feeling empty. Sayers says many Christians have replaced the command to be holy with the quest for status. We've given up finding our true selves because we have lost touch with the real goal to nurture our souls. Instead, even as Christians, we pour our time and energy into constructing an image that we think will make us cool, sexy, and glamorous. In the past, people looked to church institutions in order to discover their identity. Sayers explains that this was the vertical self. It focused on God to get one's sense of identity. Eventually, a shift happened when people began to look forward, rather than backward, and people no longer looked to the vertical self to form their identity. In addition, the advance of science caused people to consider themselves to be just another animal, rather than the crowning glory of God's creation. As people shifted to the horizontal point of view, they began looking to others to gain their sense of self. Unfortunately, when others don't see how cool and sexy we are, we lose our anchor. Sayers shares a true story: In Great Britain there is a reality TV show called The Monastery. A group of secular, non-believers go to live in a monk for several weeks. They get to incorporate deeply religious experiences into their lives. The monks have no idea who is joining them, but one of those men works in the porn industry. His experience is so profound that he left his job and joined the church. This is exactly what the point of Sayer's book is - what the world offers is empty. What God offers is the true thing. This reminds me of an often quoted phrase from C. S. Lewis: Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. -The Weight of Glory I recommend this book. It's filled with great anecdotes and interesting historical stories. Sayers has poured a lot of time into researching his topic. And best of all, I'm reminded to put my hope in Christ, not the number of comments on my Facebook page.
klampert More than 1 year ago
The Vertical Self How Biblical Faith Can Help Us Discover Who We Are in An Age of Self Obsession By Mark Sayers I recently had the privileged of receiving this book in the mail Cutesy of Thomas Nelson Publishing. I was really excited to get this book because it looked very interesting. It talks about returning to a life of Holiness. It is a book about being less self absorbed or "horizontal" and having our eyes fixed on Christ "vertical". I personally love books that deal with our identity because I believe it is one of the biggest struggles we as Christians have. Who do we get our identity from? Are our eyes pointed upward or do we continue to look to our environment and peers as our barometer for how we should act and ultimately be. While the insights are butt kicking and inspiring I felt the actual writing of this book made it a bit monotonous to read. Make no mistake, the content of this book is much needed in the church today and it has some fantastic points. It is a must read, but I just was not a fan of the writing style. It did not keep my interest and therefore it became a bit of work to get through it. Bravo to Mark for tackling a subject that we as the church seem to forget about and that is Jesus calls us to be like Him and He always looked to the father. Hopefully this book will inspire more to start looking vertically. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
AnthonyStephens More than 1 year ago
Mark Sayers has put together a great work in "The Vertical Self". I wasn't real sure what to expect since I haven't read anything by Sayers before, but I was quickly drawn in to this book. What our image and identity is is very important and on the forefront of people's minds. Sayers shows how many times we look to unqualified sources to give us our identity. Sayers proposes going back to our Creator and let Him show us who we are. This is not another "self-help" book, but rather a call to "radical holiness." I would encourage anyone looking to get a clue as to what their identity is to get a copy of "The Vertical Self" and give it a read.
ryangeiger More than 1 year ago
Incredibly impressed with the book I read The Vertical Self written by Mark Sayers. It's a book about discovering who God is and what is true biblical faith in the midst of a culture that says it is all about you. If I could use one word to describe Mark it is relevant. That term gets thrown around so loosely and almost has a negative connotation that comes with it however Mark is able to tie culture into faith and sets a biblical model of what it should look like. The moment we realize that our faith is not about us but about a destination of connecting with Jesus is the moment that we grow closer to Him instead of closer to our own selves. I enjoyed how Mark showed us practical ways to find our true selves. This book appears to be written to a younger generation but I also think that by addressing this to the younger generation it may shrink the gap with young people not to be self consumed but to be consumed by God. "By stepping into this journey of discovering what God truly desires for our lives, we won't just discover a new way of living out our faith -- we will discover liberating, revolutionary, life-embracing was of being truly human."
taehunter More than 1 year ago
If you don't know who you are or why you are how you are, Mark Sayer will get you pointed in the right direction to answer all those questions. With a depth and insight, unparalleled in my reading thus far, he clearly details the struggle of our "self" horizontally to match up in the ever changing day to day pressures of conformity, while offering a detailed, biblical solution of how to align ourselves back with the originator and Creator. I didn't expect much from this book but found myself challenged with each scathing review of my own shortcomings as he took excuse after excuse away from me, all the while, pointing me to my Creator and His image in me. The entire book was one self examination of the ugly in my life, how it remains there and grows, what I do to facilitate that growth, and how it impacts my world around me and the world globally. All his information was biblical in content and context and, with proper application individually, life changing. His no-holds-barred approach made this book refreshing and insightful and I definitely have a much greater understanding of my fake and true self. Definitely a must read for any seeker with a desire to grow into the image they were made from. Thomas Nelson provided a complimentary copy of this book.
LyshaAnne More than 1 year ago
I picked up Mark Sayers' The Vertical Self with high hopes. It looked interesting and poignant; since there aren't many books out there that take the focus off of oneself, I was excited about giving it a read. Plus, I liked little the red guy on the book's cover. I expected Sayers to discuss not caring about what other people think (the reviewer's depiction of a "horizontal self"), and to focus on what God thinks (the "vertical self"). While he delivered this to an extent, Sayers had a lot to say about the media and how it corrupts our "vertical selves." In Sayers' mind, the "vertical self" is really the image of God-who God created us to be; the "horizontal self" is the public image. Okay, that makes sense. However, when Sayers implies that an urban environment dilutes character-once you move from the country to the city, then it doesn't matter whether you were of good character-I have to wonder what planet this guy is living on. Did he mean that we should all live in the boondocks in order to be who God really wants us to be? Most of this book discusses how big of an impact the media has on our identities. While this is somewhat true, it doesn't mean that everyone looks to Britney Spears to find his or her sense of self. Sayers takes an interesting viewpoint in his book. To me, it's a new genre comprised of New Age and New King James self help. It's open-minded in some aspects, and ultra-conservative in others. While I think it puts a bit too much focus on the media (which, in my opinion, can be a powerful tool in ministry), it is somewhat truthful and thought-provoking. To Sayers, life (in the "horizontal self") is a movie; to me, God's story is an epic and The Vertical Self is a bit off. <a href=""><img alt="I review for BookSneeze" src="" border="0" width="200" height="150"></a>
mel71 More than 1 year ago
I was very excited to get this book in the mail as part of Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze program. In the Vertical Self Mark Sayers looks at how in modern western culture instead of defining ourselves vertically in relationship to God we now attempt to gain a sense of identity horizontally by what the people around us think. The first section looks at various influences in our culture that combine to shape the way we see ourselves. The second part looks at how we might seek to find our true identity by cultivating our souls ... to rediscover holiness. This really is an excellent book. Mark looks with great insight into today's culture and how it influences us. I must admit even though a couple years back I made the conscious decision to not be defined by other people and put God's will first it is easy to lapse back into old patterns. This book has made me more aware of some of the more subtle influences in my life. Using stories from the bible and also more recent history Mark looks at how we can overcome the messages of our culture to embrace our true self "each day becoming more and more like the people God has designed us to be" ... a must if we hope, as a church, to make any kind of impact in our communities.
kitpalmer More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading "The Vertical Self" by Mark Sayers, founder of über, and Senior Leader of Red Church in Melbourne, Australia. I really enjoyed this book. Mark explores the phenomenon of how modern culture has changed the way our identity is defined. Today, rather than a vertical view of self, gaining our identity from God, people tend to have a to a horizontal view of self, gaining our identity from society. This book is very well written, and contains some incredibly insightful observations about culture (both current and historical), and how this view of self has even invaded the mindset of many churches and Christians. In addition, Mark offers some practical ways that we can redirect our view of self back to a vertical posture, looking to God to give us our true name. This book is a great read, and I highly recommend it!
kvbwrites More than 1 year ago
In The Vertical Self, Mark Sayers wants readers to break out of their empty, self-centered 'horizontal' lives and step into more fulfilling, God-centered 'vertical' lives. By analyzing society and its trends, he shows the uncertainty and instability of 'finding' ourselves according to the world. He then points to the Bible to show how it can help us find ourselves and live a life that reflects and points to God. I expected the book to be about dying to self; however, it addresses man's search for identity in a self-absorbed world. The majority of the book explains how mankind slipped into a state of 'horizontal' self - a life defined by society and circumstances. He presents a lot of historical support, as well as some great examples to help the reader identify a horizontal lifestyle. A little less than half of the book shows how man can move into a vertical lifestyle. The book definitely whet my appetite, but I wanted to know more about how to live the 'radically holy' life. It's relatively easy to read, but still required some thought. It may require a second read through to glean the rest of the good stuff.
Kiz More than 1 year ago
We truly live in an age where our true identity is hard to decipher from all that we pretend it to be. I've actually been feeling God calling us to find out who we are in Him, to re-identify ourselves by His word. "The Vertical Self" by Mark Sayers does a good job of identifying the issues that arise when we try to find our identity.... he describes how we often create our own by piecing together cheap imitations of who we were originally designed to be - made in the image of God. "By stepping into this journey of discovering what God truly desires for our lives, we won't just discover a new way of living out our faith -- we will discover liberating, revolutionary, life-embracing was of being truly human." I enjoyed this book. Mark Sayers has a lot of relevant examples of how we misplace our identity and smoothly describes ways of how we can find our true selves. Although he does use the Bible to make some points, I would have like to see it used a little more - after all it is about finding our identity in Him. This book, however seems to be geared toward a younger audience (high school/college) and I can see it appealing to them a little more. All in all it was a decent book, that does discuss an important issue of identity in our lives.
CraigFalvo More than 1 year ago
Mark Sayers premise is that: "You can be anyone you want to be. But is that really what you want?" (from back cover) Identities, according to Sayers, are like cell phones. We can pick and chose our own...or so we think. But, that is the problem. We are even capable of changing our image, giving our identity a make-over. (Chapter 3) This picking and choosing and changing has actually led to us "[losing] our identities." (4) We no longer know who we are. The problem with this is "we don't know how to get them back." (4) Let's face it, we all have a persona that we "wear" in public. Heck, even us bloggers have a persona. Yes, even I have a persona that I use when blogging. That leads me to ask: What have I given up cultivating my internet persona? And that seems to be the problem today. All that this does, in Sayer's opinion is promote a horizontal self. "As people with a horizontal view of self, we spend so much time cultivating our outward appearances and shaping our public performances that we neglect our interior lives." (83) So, what is the vertical self? The vertical self is living our lives as God intended us to live them. It does not rely on the secular definitions of identity: sexy, cool, or glamorous. To find out more, you'll have to read the book. I'm not giving anything away here. Overall, I thought Sayers did a fairly good job of looking at our identity and our outside sources, mainly the media have affected and to some extent, shaped our identity. We have forgotten, to borrow a phrase from my Pastoral Care professor, who and whose we are. We are suffering from an identity crisis: we create persona and false identities to fit in, to be one of the popular people. We need to reclaim our God given identities: that as a child of God. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars. Disclaimer: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expresses in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
WendyO3 More than 1 year ago
We live in an age of self-obsession; selling ourselves on Facebook, idolizing celebrities, keeping up with the neighbors, trying to be "somebody" and judging ourselves based on the material things we acquire. We show up at church maybe once a week, once a month or once a year, and forget the message of the sermon long before we forget who won the last American Idol contest. This is a way of life. We are striving to be "individuals" but losing who we really are in the meantime. Mark Sayer writes about this and how we have lost the way of living for the "Vertical Self". This is living for God, and being our true selves, not living to create our "public image" or "horizontal self". There are so many instances in this book that everyone can relate to; Mark lets us know that we are not alone in this journey. There is no real peace in living a horizontal self. You are constantly searching, changing to meet society's demands and expectations, and losing yourself in the process. Only through living with God in mind, the vertical self, can we ever really live out our faith and find our true selves. This book is a good read, and a re-read. It is a book that we can continue to learn from. I received this book free through Thomas Nelson Publishers via Booksneeze.
Jessi0805 More than 1 year ago
Book Sneeze Review: The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers This book takes a real cold hard look at what Christians are becoming more like each day...the World!! In this book, author Mark Sayers brings up aspects of our lives, as the Christian Church, that stun our effectiveness in witness. This book is all about God's standards, not our own, and how we are not meeting them. If all Christians had the goal of God's standards, then our effectiveness in the world would be so much better! I must say that I really enjoy the realness in this book. The author does not try to gently move the reader, but instead gives the hard facts and ways we can fix them. I believe that this book would be especially good for a teen to a young adult since the writing style seems to be more direct than that of a purely adult book. One thing I did not care for was the lack of Biblical Scriptures. There were some here and there, but much of the information is based on a theme or aspect that the author wants to cover. I think that his message would be better presented if there were more scriptures to back up what he is saying, not just sprinkling throughout. Overall I would recommend this book to someone else, but I would not recommend this book to a theologian or serious adult Christian. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."