Stone Soup for Five: Book Review-- Disruptive Witness by Alan Noble

Book Review-- Disruptive Witness by Alan Noble

I was browsing around online and saw a mention of a book titled Disruptive Witness, Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age.  I don't remember who suggested it, but after reading their short review, I went directly to Amazon and bought it.  Working with teens, I'm seeing a lot of distraction (even when they don't mean to be or want to be distracted) so the subtitle drew me immediately.

When the book got here, I devoured it in about a week.  The first half of the book perfectly described what I have been seeing with teens and young adults all over the country.  The second half got into semi-practical ways to disrupt the normal practices of most people's day to day lives so you can speak truth in a way they understand.  (I say semi-practical because it wasn't a lot of real "try this" application, but more of "how to think about and interact with this" kind of stuff.)


I was taught a new method of marking and underlining in books (which I did like crazy in this one) from my pastor.  He showed me how he underlines parts that stand out and then draws the underline out onto the side of the pages that is visible as a mark when the book is closed.  This way you can easily open to a mark and find a quote.  This book is FULL of these underlines and marks on the sides of the pages!  
"Most of us do not rely on good weather for our livelihood or sustenance.  We struggle to recognize beauty in the natural world because it has been so thoroughly conquered, and wonder is quashed through scientific language and nature-channel explainers.  We are masters of our health, our safety, our morality, our time, and our success.  Living in this kind of society, it is hard to sense the transcendent.  It seems superfluous.  This situation is so pervasive that when we bear witness to our faith to a non-Christian, they may imagine the faith as just another belief system within a closed immanent frame."
In a time as we are facing right now, with COVID-19, we actually already have a foot in the door to talk about more important things, because we are suddenly struck with the truth that we really aren't masters of our health or safety.

This is exactly what I see.  When what people who have bought into this "technological and distracted worldview" believe something that doesn't logically make sense with the other things they identify with and stand for, they don't seem to have a problem with the inconsistency.  Alan Nobel explains why it is this way, and not only how they deal with it (or don't) but how we can disrupt this mindset, which is so much more than pointing out how illogical their beliefs are.  But in order to disrupt this mindset/worldview, it starts with us.
"A practical, achievable step we can take toward reclaiming our attention and creating some space for reflection is to cut down on filler distractions.  Make dinner without listening to a podcast.  Use the bathroom without bringing your phone. ...Stop seeing 'unproductive' time as a problem to be solved and instead open yourself up to the possibility of undirected thought.  
"A habit like this can allow you to see God's creation anew, to process experiences, to reflect on sins, to be grateful.  Most important, such a habit is an embodied claim that 'redeeming the time' for the days are evil means redeeming it for God, for His glory, not for profitability, productivity, efficiency, or plain busyness.  How on earth can we redeem each moment for Him if we are so absorbed by the next thing that we forget He exists at all?"

(Did the book draw me in while reading, 
and make me want to come back to it when not reading?)

Rating: 5

I read through the book in just a few days because I wanted to know the answer, how to convey true faith in Christ to a generation (a world) that thinks in terms of "right for you/true for you, but not me."  It was close to what I call "thick reading," meaning that it was a lot to digest and not a book that I could skim or zip through, but I think he nailed the situation correctly and gave some good ideas for how to combat it.  He uses the term "disruptive" to explain that what we do personally, as a church, and in the culture needs to disrupt this current culture where everything is contested, everyone is distracted, and individualism, identity, and thin beliefs are the norm.  

(Can I take the information read in this book and apply it to my life right now to make a difference?)

Rating 4

I definitely think he gave some great practical application points.  Not easy points, but practical.  For example in the chapter on disruptive personal habits, the author suggests that we cultivate habits of contemplation and presence.  

I love the example he gave of watching a nature program about birds, then reflecting back on that when he saw a bird outside and remembering its scientific name and family, rather than pausing and contemplating its beauty and saying a prayer of thanks.  Just that kind of  little shift is actually a big shift but a hard habit to develop.  In our technological culture with any answer just a click away, we truly are always learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.  Even Christians.

He also speaks of reorienting ourselves toward God (like in that above example).
To live like Christ really is coming back, not as functional scoffers (2 Peter 3:4).
To practice saying grace for our meals,
To engage in a Sabbath rest,
To evaluate and enjoy beauty in nature, art, writing, and realize every creature is made to praise God,
among other things.

(How many things stood out to me enough to highlight, underline, dog ear and write?)

Rating: 5

Tons of dog ears, lots of underlines, and a bunch of writing and notes on the blank pages in the front and back of the book.  This is a read and re-read book.



I think anyone who works with teens and young adults or apologetics should buy this and read and re-read it.  When teaching my high school apologetics class at our homeschool co-op the students and I constantly struggled with the fact that most worldviews of people we interact with don't strictly follow the main ones. We've interacted with New Spiritualists who hold a Marxist view in some areas.  Or secularists who also think there are such things as ghosts or demons.  This book helps to explain how we can interrupt those paradoxes in an eye-opening and loving way.


  1. Thanks, Kari! This looks really interesting!

  2. This may seem like a strange request, but when you said your pastor showed how to underline, could you post a picture of what you mean? I am a very visual person and for some reason I can't get how you do it.


Join the conversation!