Book Review – The Spellbinder’s Gift


image via Amazon.com

Last week, a friend handed me a copy of Og Mandino’s book, “The Spellbinder’s Gift.”  I read it in one three hour sitting last night.  Here is the basic story.  Bart is a retired talent agent who formerly represented “Motivational Speakers” who spoke at conventions and events across the US and Canada.  After just over a year of retirement, he is listless and events lead him to “unretire” (sic).  He and his wife attend a speakers convention of an association he helped to establish 35 years previous.  While there, an old acquaintance helps him to look for new talent to represent.  After  a few disappointments Bart, Mary, and Jay find the person, Bart feels is a “spellbinder” (one who can hold an audience spellbound).  They think they miss their opportunity to sign him and go home disappointed.

A few days go by and Pat Donne – the speaker Bart wants to represent – contacts him asking Bart to be his agent.  Some mysterious events similar to the ones that lead Bart to reopen for business lead Pat back to Bart.

Pat is a phenomenal speaker and soon he has six appointments a month for 2 years at $20,000 per appointment.  Pat also does occasional charity events for free.  There are suspicions that Pat is more than a talented speaker (there are occasions that hint that he has a gift to heal people).

Pat learns that people only remember about 10% of what they hear at lectures and since he feels strongly about his message he begins a project that he thinks will help them retain more of his message.  That project is a small book that attendees to his lectures will receive free of charge.  A book that they can read in less than five minutes each morning.  This becomes the “Spellbinder’s Gift.”  Mandino treats us to the full text of this book in his last few pages.

Before I share the highlights of Pat’s little treatise please indulge me a few lines of concern.  Mandino’s parable of the Spellbinder reads like non-fiction, but in reality is fiction.  Mandino’s story hints at miraculous leading by God as well as miraculous healings. There is also an underlying message that “all gods are the same” therefore all religions and branches of those religions (whether Christian, polytheistic, or ancestral worship in form) are all paths to a better life here and possible eternal life.  Some may also find the PG-13 language the characters use (even the heroes of the story) to be offensive.  This language is prevalent in the early pages of the book, but less so toward the end.  These concerns do not take away from the message Mandino’s characters and parable wish to teach.  What follows is the main thrust of that message of a how to have a better life along with my take on them:

  1. Separate yourself from the crowd.  Refuse to let what others think about you influence what you say and do. Biblically that would be living “in the world, but not being of the world.”
  2. Seal yourself in a “day-tight” compartment.  In other words live one day at a time.  Combining the words of Paul and Jesus, “Forgetting what is behind, I press on,” “do not be anxious for tomorrow.”
  3. Go the extra mile at every opportunity.  Jesus said that first.
  4. Look for the seed of good in every adversity.  Although I do not believe there  is a God purposed reason for everything, I do believe we can grow from events in our life — even the tough ones.
  5. Never neglect the little things. When you take care of the little details in your life, you will succeed.
  6. Never hide behind busy work.  This seems to be the issue of the priest and Levite in the Jesus parable of the Good Samaritan. They missed a good opportunity by claiming to be busy with other good things.
  7. Live this day without letting anyone rain on your parade. Don’t let judgmental people and attitudes ruin your happiness.  The writer of Hebrews quotes, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
– Scott

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