Associate Professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University, editor-in-chief of Christ and Pop Culture and author of numerous articles, Dr. O. Alan Noble released a new book Oct.12 entitled, “You Are Not Your Own: Belonging to God in an Inhuman World.”
In “You Are Not Your Own,” Noble explores how Christianity transforms the way we understand our individual identities, families, society and God. Contrasting the world’s and Christianity’s views on life, Noble opens a door leading out of the suffocating pressure of secular life and into a freeing understanding of who we are as children of God.
Noble spoke on the two major inspirations that prompted him to spend roughly three years thoroughly brainstorming, researching and writing “You Are Not Your Own.”
“First, I saw in my own life and the lives of my students and friends a deep weariness, as if our lives are unsustainable,” Noble said.
This weariness can manifest itself through burnout, addiction and many other negative effects in the daily lives of various individuals. Though there are a few who try to push through the pain of this way of life, all people seem to accept the idea that society is hostile to being a human.
“Society demands too much of us,” Noble said.
“We are expected to become the ‘best version’ of ourselves, to be constantly optimizing and improving ourselves, to create our own brand, to discover and express our true selves and so on. All of which is exhausting.”
Though the world may interpret this message of autonomy as empowering, in practice it is, “a crushing responsibility — one that never actually delivers on its promise of a free and fulfilled life, but instead leaves us burned out, depressed, anxious and alone,” the book’s pre-order website states.
In other words, the environment human beings created by God find themselves in is not designed for them. Naturally, that eventually takes a toll on such individuals.
With this first observation, Noble addressed the second inspiration for his book.
“Second, I noticed that many of the big picture problems in our society have one thing in common: they all assume a theory of the human person, an anthropology,” Noble said.
“They assume that to be human is to be your own and to belong to yourself. Whether the issue is poverty, education, abortion, crime, sexuality, consumerism, environmentalism or bioethics, whenever we begin with the assumption that we are our own, we are very quickly led to unbiblical, destructive and dehumanizing results.”
With both of these problems in society recognized, Noble said he found a deeper understanding of the weariness, burnout and depression he had witnessed in those around him.
“Life feels unbearable because we are taught and expected to live as radically autonomous: self-sufficient, self-sustaining, self-affirming and self-creating,” Noble said.
“But that is not how God made us to live.”
According to Noble, the Biblical truth is that we are not our own, but belong to God. Therefore, “You Are Not Your Own” is about belonging to God.
Noble said “You Are Not Your Own” was written to be read by college students, parents of college students, young professionals, parents, Christians, non-Christians, highly successful people, highly anxious people, people who are tired and anyone who says, “I just need to get through the day.”
According to Noble, readers of “A Spacious Life” by Ashley Hales should also consider reading “You Are Not Your Own.” In her book, Hales addresses many of the same problems, but focuses on the goodness of limits in our lives.
“You Are Not Your Own” is dedicated specifically to Noble’s friend Larry Pratter, who died of cancer one year ago.
“Larry modelled a life of belonging to God and to others,” Noble said.
Prior to the book’s release on Oct. 12, Noble commented on how he planned to celebrate.
On release day, Noble said he would, “teach Civ, grade, take a nap and try not to spend the whole day wondering if what I wrote makes any sense.”
Dr. Noble has been teaching composition and literature for over a decade, beginning at Antelope Valley College in his hometown of Lancaster, California, then at Baylor University before coming to Oklahoma Baptist University. He has contributed scholarship on Cormac McCarthy and has published a book with InterVarsity Press titled, Disruptive Witness: Speaking Truth in a Distracted Age.
In addition, Dr. Noble is co-founder of the evangelical political organization, Public Faith; a member of the Leadership Council of the AND Campaign; and a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Vox, Buzzfeed, First Things, Christianity Today and The Gospel Coalition.
Dr. Noble has given talks on literature, popular culture, technology, secularism and related issues at a number of colleges, churches and organizations.