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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I knew of Mark years ago., 3 Oct. 2013
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Well, what a 24 hours this has been.
I received the book yesterday, and finished it fully this afternoon. It really has been a day of revelations and synchronicity in abundance for me as I have read this book.
As someone who spent much time in and working for the Church of England, and even considering the life of a vicar in my more hopeful times, I found Mark's experiences resonate with me page after page.
And it recently that I have realised how much I miss Jesus, as part of my life, and worship. I rather stumbled across paganism and embraced the belief of the Goddess aspect, and it has been that a lot that has sustained me. But I also miss the fellowship, of like minded people, and Mark, from reading this book, and from knowing him a little on Facebook, I can see is a like minded soul. He appreciates and values the earth based religions, and looks for magic all around.
This book is not a wishy washy happy ever after auto biography. There is pain and hurt in the pages, confusion, and often a not knowing where to go or how to be authentic. And all these things I can resonate with and I feel confident now that my belief in the Goddess, and the more pagan aspects of worship, do not need to separate me from the parts of Christianity I did love and have grown up with. He also reminds us how the church is a human construct, and imperfect, and we have been a part of that imperfection if we have been part of the Church of England. But we don't need to remain boxed in and change or hide our beliefs to have a very real relationship with the Creator.
My last part of reading this book was actually spent at the Reading Seat he mentions in the book. It is a beautiful place, and one of inspiration (It is not far from me, so on the spur of the moment I decided to take myself off), and somewhere where it is hard not to appreciate God/dess in all things.
Thank you Mark for coming to the conclusion that you have (which I will not rob prospective readers of). I am glad that there are people out there who believe there is not one clear cut path or belief.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic, personal, captivating, 27 Sept. 2013
Mark Townsend has written a profoundly personal account, without ever divulging unneccessary personal details. He describes the spiritual journey following his involuntary three-year suspension from working as a priest in the Church of England and his subsequent deep immersion into Druidry. He reaches a state where institutionalised religion becomes a means, not an end, a jumping board into what matters most: the human encounter.

Townsend describes his struggle with apparent contradictions. While becoming increasingly aware of his very own call and direction, he moves away from the "either ... or ..." to the "both ... and ..." of spiritual authenticity. Ultimately, he does not return to his Church of England ministry, which would have meant for him to limit the scope and width of his work, but decides to follow options that enable him to stay true to being both a Christian priest and a Druid.

This book is a great read not only for those who may "sit on the fence" themselves, but also for those who feel ready to challenge the boundaries of their religious perception.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave, Authentic and Inspiring, 3 Oct. 2013
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Alex (Coventry, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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In this book, Mark Townsend opens his heart and soul to the reader. Far from being narcissistic, this is a glimpse through the window of another person's soul which also acts as a mirror into our own. It is brave, authentic and deeply inspiring.
The book is the diary of one year in Mark's life which charts his struggle to balance, integrate and assimilate his dual callings along Christian and Pagan pathways. For me, it describes the process of a man who, like a bonsai tree being freed from its binding-wires and tiny pot, rediscovers its essential tree-ness and slowly, awkwardly and often painfully begins to grow - his roots down into Paganism, and his branches up into Christianity (or vice versa!): for Mark, both the roots and the leaves of the branches provide him with life, nutrients and light.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nicky Ferguson's views on this magical book!, 21 Oct. 2013
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It is so difficult to put into words what a profound effect this book has had on my understanding of how the magic of a druid way of thinking links to those mysterious moments when one senses there must be a god/goddess..something of that shadow world that is so close to us, something that links us, something beyond language. Mark's books are for those of us who know there is something magical, spiritual about life but for us who reject the dogma of the mainstream church. We know that the rules set down by the mainstream church are not forgiving, not human. Still we feel and sense what Mark talks about, the synchronicities of life; we feel we are spiritual beings. Mark reveals what we all know that the Jesus story is a myth but in all these myths like the myth of the Buddha are to be found essential beauty and understanding. Mark's explanation of alchemy and transformation, the sense of human re-incarnation is extremely moving and profound. What I love about it is that Mark is like us all, a flawed human being who does not pretend to be otherwise. He is not striving for a perfection that Jesus warned us against or even attempting it. He is re-counting his journey for authenticity, a journey that seeks real meaning in life. At times painful, at times with humour, exposing the ironies of church who called Mark a heretic and yet who painfully miss the point of the Jesus myth, mirroring the story of the church who rejected Jesus, and of Jesus who in turn had rejected the church. Mark's work offers that glimpse of the magic that the God/Goddess manifests even in unexpected places.
Every reading is personal so you will find your own magic as you read Mark's books. My personal favourites of coincidence or synchronicity was when reading Mark's account of how butterflies manifested themselves at a funeral he has organised for a wife whose deceased husband had a lifelong love of butterflies. I was utterly amazed by the fact that I read the words `two red admiral butterflies' -the words seem to float out like butterflies to greet me.. Amazed as on that very day that I had read this passage in Mark's book...I had just given a birthday card (hand made) to a girlfriend with...two red admiral butterflies on it!! Given that it has taken me several weeks of dipping in and out of the book, it was extraordinary and brought a lump when I thought of the chances of that happening!
Mark is that unexpected magician who reveals to us how we too can re-discover that magical God/Goddess from within. I went from feeling like a cynical spectator at a magic show when the magician starts up their usual routine, to weeping at the sheer beauty of what was revealed to me. Truly splendid!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and inspiring, 6 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Diary of a Heretic: The Pagan Adventures of a Christian Priest (Kindle Edition)
I have read a few of Mark's books and always find them inspiring. If I had to select one word to describe this book - and, indeed, all of them - it would be 'honest'. Marks wears his heart and his soul on his sleeve, both in his writing and in his life. If he had been prepared to be just a little less honest about his admitted failings, to keep his more 'heretical' views to himself and live a sham life, his life would have been, superficially at least, a lot easier. But it would not have been spiritually honest, and to Mark that means everything.

This month by month diary of a very difficult year in his life, but one that brought such rich spiritual rewards, had many lessons for me. Reading the Kindle version, I relished the freedom to highlight lavishly the passages I will want to return to.

We may regret, for his sake, that he had to go through so much rejection and indeed underhand behaviour on the part of some members of the established church, and we may be surprised and delighted that he found such warm-hearted and wise support from the members of the earth-based faiths. However, we cannot regret the fact that he has written about it, as in doing so he has created a valuable resource for many.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, 1 Oct. 2013
Diary of a Heretic is the best book I've read in ages. I've read some of Mark's other books, but for me this book is the best. What Mark tells of his own story is unique and interesting, sad and funny, but above all authentic. An inspirational story, grounded in the everyday but also highly reflective on some very important spiritual questions for our time. Would highly recommend this book, particularly for anyone struggling within the institutional framework of church.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Open, honest, funny and unique, 5 Oct. 2013
I knew of Mark Townsend, who he was and had read a few articles about him...but when I was given his book to review the thought did cross my mind "why am I reading a book about a Priest, not sure about this..."

My doubts were totally unfounded, never judge a book by it's cover as they say...

Mark writes as if you are sitting in his head, listening to his thoughts and watching his day through his eyes. Mark's writing is open, honest and quite often funny, he has a unique view on people, life and the divine. Diary of a Heretic takes you on his own personal journey, day by day, trying to make sense of it all. It was a pure joy to read and certainly gave me a lot to think about. Whatever faith you follow...you will love this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A thought provoking journey through the eyes of an open mind, 5 Oct. 2013
Mark's journey is one of many highs and lows. From the joy of an early morning walk, to the struggles of finding a true and happy path through life, Diary of a Heretic tells us of Mark's move from the traditional (and largely confined) life of being a "regular" vicar to one of a true spiritual belief on a path to enlightenment.

His writings lead us from the everyday difficulties of an irregular income, to the internal battle between light and dark. Mark is now finding love and a true sense of happiness following a less conformist path.

A little bit of magic from the Tricky Vicar.

Buy it. Read it. Start your own journey.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sanity for Seekers, 17 Oct. 2013
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I am just over half-way through. Mark is preserving my sanity as I too, like so many others, search for a spiritual fusion in my life. His honesty is refreshingly challenging. As for 'heretic', just how many of us are heretics at heart? Mark offers the challenge to come out about it, live with our 'heresies', accept them-indeed embrace them. We are the richer for them-and for Mark.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mark Townsend: Diary of a Heretic, 30 Nov. 2013
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I wish I could write as eloquently as some who have posted reviews about Diary of a Heretic, Mark's latest gift to us all. I very likely wouldn't do him justice. So, I'll say just two things: #1: This book stays in my possession to be read again, more slowly...and, #2: I have told everyone I care about to read it as well. Love your stuff, Mark! Never stop.
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