Don’t Lick The Flagpole

18 March 2016

Don’t Lick the Flagpole: A Spiritual Quest for Meaning, Identity & Purpose
by David Banman
Published by Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing
Review by Shelley A. Leedahl
$19.95 ISBN 978-1-927756-46-1

David Banman’s inspirational book, Don’t Lick the Flagpole: A Spiritual Quest for Meaning, Identity & Purpose, delves into the glory and mystery of God – whom he also refers to as the “Designer/Creator” – and it also fervently delivers the author’s treatise on why he’s a Christian but remains ardently anti-religion. The Manitoba-born author and longtime primary school teacher makes several strong claims regarding God’s purpose and kingdom, humanity’s purpose, personal beliefs about Jesus, and why the writer’s so wary of “religion” – aka “the contemporary church” – in his first book.

This is tricky territory, no doubt about it, and it will not rest easy on all ears. Even Banman’s reference to God as “Him” and the use of words like “mankind” (rather than “humankind”) will undoubtedly deter some potential readers, but for those interested in the God vs. religion debate, the writer – who also possesses a Master’s in philosophy – presents some interesting ideas, and often uses Biblical passages to support his arguments.

The book is well-written. The writer’s style includes the regular use of asking questions, which engages readers and makes them feel as if they’re in conversation, ie: “Are you content to simply survive, or are you ready to cast aside religious mediocrity and embrace your true identity and purpose?”

Banman frequently addresses the “dichotomy between the kingdom of heaven Jesus came to bring and what religion can often be seem to promote: personal and corporate agendas hinged on manipulation and control”. The softcover is peppered with startling convictions, sometimes succinctly, ie: “Satan loves religion,” “The church has taken a mistress and her name is religion,” and “Religion is a foreign concept to Jesus’s mandate,” and sometimes via more detail, ie: “religion is the process whereby we invite God to abandon His good and perfect will in order to make real our own wishes and desires” and “The contemporary church has become extremely proficient at ‘doing church’ to the extent that the presence of God is no longer required or desired.”

Banman believes that individuals must repent and establish a personal relationship with God by inviting the Holy Spirit into their lives. He challenges readers to wholly surrender to God’s will and “operate with the authority of the Holy Spirit” if he or she is to experience the true joy (not happiness) that comes with knowing one’s “God-given identity and purpose.” For Banman, Christianity is not exclusively a Sunday morning enterprise. “Stop trying to get to heaven; instead invite heaven into every thought, word, and action,” he writes.

The most compelling section comes in Banman’s personal testimony, where he shares the tragedy of his son Carl’s death, and his own premonition that his son was lost to the surging Dead Horse Creek. How anyone can continue after such a loss is one thing, but to carry on in “peace and joy” demonstrates that divinity and grace are alive in this man’s life, and that’s something we should all accept with open hearts and minds.

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