Monday, June 25, 2007


When the Game Is Over It All Goes Back in the Box is a book on life by John Ortberg, a Presbyterian pastor. His argument is thus: you will die, and when you do, you will lose all the stuff you have. Therefore, instead of focusing on things you cannot keep, focus on things you can.

Ortberg says that the object of life is, as Jesus said, to be rich toward God. Pleasing God is part of this; part of it is putting a greater priority on personal relationships. This also turns out to be the place where we find true fulfillment. Ortberg's main target is those who say they will work less and spend more time with their families "when things settle down." His message is this: things never settle down until it's too late.

The book is written with an amusing game theme. Ortberg borrows a lot of anecdotes from a lot of different authors, which is fine. He gives credit where credit is due. Ortberg has a surprisingly good sense of humor. Sometimes his jokes are pretty corny, but on the whole he seems like a funny guy. My only criticism of his writing is a small one: several chapters tend to run a little long (the reader has gotten the point and is ready to move on).

There is criticism due the publisher: on nearly every other page, there are excerpts from the text blown up in boxes on the same page. Perhaps this is done for those flipping through the book in a shop, or for those who skim, but for the actual reader, it is incredibly annoying and distracting.

On the whole, When the Game Is Over It All Goes Back in the Box is an accessible, engaging, humorous book on Christian living and eternity. This is obviously a Christian book, but the theologizing does not get heavy-handed, and Ortberg does not beat the reader over the head with the Bible. It can benefit any Christian as well as some who are feeling unfulfilled.