I just finished reading Honestly: My Life and Stryper Revealed by Michael Sweet last night. It is a fast read and if I was 20 years younger, I could have stayed awake long enough to read it in one night instead of two.
Like many of the songs Michael has written, there are many layers to the book. I won’t try to list them since it would be too big of a challenge. However, I will try to highlight some of them.
I have been a fan of Stryper since 1985, and have followed Michael’s solo career. I met him once when he did an acoustic set while promoting his Truth album at a local bookstore. I actually went through the line twice to get his autograph. I also have met Timothy Gaines, Robert Sweet and Oz Fox during a Stryper meet and greet. I am also embarrassed to admit I jumped off a wall in an auditorium to get a red solo cup Michael drank out of during the In God We Trust Album and almost got busted by security for being so stupid.
Some of the stories Michael shares were painful to read for various reasons. As a fan, I hoped my favorite band is made of a group of friends who agrees on everything and never has a problem. Granted it is an illusion I choose to create, and from what I have read and experienced, I knew better.
The great thing about this book it isn’t another “tell all books” written to “get even” with anyone in Stryper, or the detractors of the band or Michael Sweet’s solo career. Instead, Michael reflects on his personal struggles with dealing with the band and various critics. To help the reader understand he writes about a situation but often points a finger at himself for doing or not doing something in that situation. At the same time he isn’t into graphic detail of a situation. In many instances you may feel the need to know more. In cases he also admits that he is sharing his perception of a situation and those involved may have another viewpoint.
The book’s main theme isn’t about struggles and strife however. To me it is about a man growing from a “teenage punk” who didn’t care about much of anything, to a mature adult actualizing his responsibilities as a Christian, a father, a member of a band, and a musician/songwriter.
This is even overshadowed by a even larger theme, despite ourselves, God continues to poor his graces upon us and loves us. Great things will happen if we let him have control over our lives. It may not be what we want or expect, but in the end we may realize it was the better path for us.