May 12, 2012
Christianity: A New Look at Ancient Wisdom - David J. H. Hart
This is the next book that I read for the Lay Worship Leader course that I am taking, and the first book for the course that really challenged me. I actually ended up stopping reading part way through, and only picked it up again 3 weeks later. If it hadn't been required reading, I probably wouldn't have picked it up again; and it was with a real sense of relief that I finished it.
It wasn't all bad. I enjoyed the author's personal stories that he interspersed through the book. I liked the emphasis that religion and spirituality have to be balanced - that religion without spirituality is hollow, and spirituality without religion is unfocused.
But I didn't like the author's tone at times. He seemed very prescriptive and restrictive in his approach, and that is really what turned me off. "You should pray this way because it is the best way to pray." (I'm paraphrasing a bit!) And at times, he passes off his own speculation as fact. How can anyone know what the soul/spirit experiences after death?
Let me end on a positive. I loved the chapter on healing and the emphasis on holisitc healing. I am a physiotherapist, and have known ever since school about the difference between curing and healing. I have also done some work in palliative care in recent years, and know about the importance in hope for healing. But I currently work in home care, and one thing that has often bothered me is when a client tells me something like, "I feel better just because of your visit." My (internal) response has always been along the lines of "But that's not physiotherapy!" This book helped me see that maybe this is OK - so many of the clients I see are house-bound and lonely and having someone come to their house will likely contribute to healing. I just won't tell OHIP (provincial health care plan, for anyone outside of Ontario) what they are paying for...
So I guess that I'm glad that I read the book, and I'm even gladder that I'm done!