My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I had just begun my 20 year Air Force career when I got mine. I had three etched into my skin when I was eighteen, and the final one applied when I was nineteen. That was almost 40 years ago. There's a story behind each, and together they weave a narrative that now feels prescient. Allan Dayhoff, Executive Director of Evangelize Today and PCA Pastor, has chronicled a pile of tales and stories about skin-ink in his 140 page paperback "God & Tattoos: Why Are People Writing On Themselves?" His writing style is easy, and his approach is simple. But the subject matter probes down under the inked skin into the hearts of many. I warn you, you just might get teary-eyed here and there.
"God & Tattoos" takes the reader around bars, bus stops, parks, tattoo parlors and eateries to meet all kinds of people who have become permanently marked. The author explains what he was up to as he went around for weeks talking with folks about their tats, and conversing with several artists who applied them. As Dayhoff recounts the tales engraved and told, he posits possible reasons why the phenomenon is becoming increasingly more prevalent in American society, and how Christians should respond. "I believe the soul, the image of God, is writing messages in their tattoos. These are personal messages to God, their fellow man, and to themselves. The message "This is who I am" is hidden within the tattoos" (66-7). He also suggests that tattoo artists have "become a new shaman for many souls" (73); their relationship with the client filling in a deep longing to be known. Dayhoff not only recounts the stories that hide underneath peoples' tattoos, but exhibits a way to approach men and women so that we don't listen to respond, but we listen to hear.
"God & Tattoos" is a quick read. It breezes through numerous episodes of conversation, heartbreaking stories, humerus outcomes, and rationales. As a pastor who got his tattoos long before they ever became popular, the whole dossier resonated with me and was very intriguing. This is a book every pastor should take up and read. But I would encourage you to not read to respond, but read to hear: withhold judgment until the end, after you get the authors big point. I highly recommend "God & Tattoos"!
(The book can be purchased at this link: God & Tattoos)
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