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Not for the faint hearted
on 5 December 2007
Outside of the Bible, this is the timeless heart of the Christian message. This was not written for priests or holy orders, but for those of us living in the world, coping with the pressures, battling with sin and temptation, holding down jobs and so on. And yet, it is a forthright rejection of our world and its temporal gods. This translation by Leo Shirley-Price is the best. It is a book you could sometimes hurl across the room in your frustration and weakness, but you will never find a passage or page that does not respond directly to your spiritual need. This is the narrow way that Jesus taught, laid out in the simplest language. There is no ambiguity here for those who prefer a more comfortable faith. It asks that you turn your back with contempt on worldly honours, wealth and power, and become, in all humility and as Thomas a Kempis says: one of the "few lovers of the Cross of Jesus". And it asks you to accept and embrace suffering if that is the result. Thomas of Kempen remains, even after 600 years, a spiritual director everyone can have access to, through this life-changing, Christian classic.