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Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism): 256
Patience With God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism): 256
by Frank Schaeffer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuine search for the radical middle way between religious and atheistic fundamentalism, 21 Nov. 2011
I have enjoyed Frank Schaeffer's biographically based fictions (the Calvin Becker Trilogy) and Crazy for God and Sex, Mom and God. (Last two mentioned confirming biographical nature of first mentioned.) In spite of the weighty subject - fundamentalist Religion - I found them all amusingly entertaining. Patience with God, however, is different. It is of special significance to me, as I identify with Frank Schaeffer's spiritual journey; a journey that took him from an activist, in support of fundamentalistic Evangelicalism, to an advocate for a non-exclusive perspective of Christianity. Whilst Frank finds comfort in the unchanging liturgy and worship through the Greek Orthodox tradition, I appreciate that he also acknowledges that interpretations of the Bible are not static, but subject to change, like anything that is alive: In the past many a bible-believer`s image of their god did not contradict the church's brutal treatment against unbelievers, heretics and devotees of other religions; fortunately this cannot be said about today's majority of `possessors' of ultimate and absolute truth. Most of today's believers, even some fundamentalists, remain silent on the subject of the brutal side of the biblical portrait of god, a god who condemns non-believers to eternal punishment! Frank is right in his perception that his fundamentalist parents' battle was one preoccupied with cleaning up this bad reputation of their god and that they were often kinder than HIM, in whom they believed. To me, this contradiction is one that is (as Nietzsche would say) too human - all too human and can only be identified as a paradox created (or `biblically' interpreted) by paradoxical human beings who would like their god of love to hate people who disagree with them. I guess that this ambiguity is too hot to handle for anyone believing that the Bible is the foolproof and non-contradicting word of god. I find Frank sincerely human in his ontological approach, because he takes into account that we are all not as sure as we (have to) pretend to be, and that authentic humanness shows mostly through our ambiguity and also in our paradoxes, characteristics which are avoided by so many black-and-white fundamentalists, religious or secular. And if any one now thinks that Frank is the odd one out, he/she is wrong! Frank is in good company, with no one less than some of the otherwise acknowledged church fathers, such as Evagrius Ponticus, Tertullian, St.Cyril of Jerusalem, Clement of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom and Basil the Great (Frank's listing), all of whom, for their sincere 'uncertainty' expressed through their apophatic- also known as negative theology, would be put down as liberals by many of today's evangelicals. Not to forget the mystics, who live a nonetheless living faith and find peace, not by certainty but through silence and inner stillness. And furthermore (as Frank says) "hold clues to the understanding that paradox must not be resolved", because it "is the blessed, creative, and freeing nature of reality, not a problem"! Maybe I don't understand Frank right, but if I do, I would add that this "creative and freeing nature" can then be released, when we recognize our own paradoxical nature and in doing so finding something profoundly true about ourselves. Maybe Frank is basically an artist at heart, which he (much to his later regret) denied himself to develop outwardly; he sacrificed his passion for painting for the sake of supporting his parents on their evangelical mission to us lost christianised, but not bible-fundamentalist Calvinists. I am aware that Frank has being accused of defaming and shaming his parents, (more so provoked by his other mentioned books). Although such accusations are to be expected and can be understood, I don't see it that way. I sense strong feelings of compassion in Frank's writings, for his still living mom and his deceased dad. I observe it as a kind of love-hate relationship: love because he loves them for who they, as human beings, basically were (his mom still is) and hate because of the cause they have invested their lives in. What Frank fails to understand when he tries to separate the two, is no different from the believer who, in his keen attempt to convert people, loves the sinner but hates his sins. What makes Frank's attempt even of a bigger challenge is that whilst sinners do not always love their sins, fundamentalist are always inseparable from their beliefs. I also appreciate this particular Schaeffer book, because here Frank not only takes a stand against religious fundamentalism, but also against the equivalent black and white obstinacy of the New Atheists. Hence I take this book as warning: aren't we all tempted, when rejecting one worldview, just to find ourselves fighting it with a superficial verbal artillery that is just as extreme and black-and-white as of the one we rejected!


Looking for Gold: A Year for Jungian Analysis
Looking for Gold: A Year for Jungian Analysis
by Susan M. Tiberghien
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Casting light onto a still neglected realm, 27 Mar. 2006
This book reminds me of Paul Coelho's fable, 'The Alchemist', in which the shepherd boy Santiago ventured out in search for a hidden treasure, which he believed to find by the pyramids in Egypt. After his demanding adventure, with many a trial and hardship, Santiago learned that the treasure was indeed buried in the churchyard of his hometown back in Andalusia. It is so characteristically human to look for our own treasure -fulfilment and meaning - anywhere but close to us - within us. I understand that this is Susan Tiberghien's message, which she shares by way of her own experience of dream work in 'Looking for Gold'.
It stands in paradoxical contrast to the self-assured image that is asked of us in society and professional life. There we must give our best to portray to others that we trust our insight, but when we are asked to take a look inside our own self, we not only lack trust but also fear that there mightn't be anything there at all. 'Looking for Gold' is encouraging to take notice of our dreams in order to learn more about ourselves. This can be difficult at times, because we are to remain open, not shying away from facing also some of our darker characteristics. Susan is exposing herself courageously to fears and lack of self-trust. This, her own vulnerability, makes you want to jump on the bandwagon with her. She does it in such a way that the reader will not find the wagon to fast nor the running board a step to high to hop on. In other words no knowledge in Jungian psychoanalysis is needed, yet it makes you curious enough to want to know more about it, and most of all, to take valour to venture out in search for your own Gold.


Emotion and Spirit: Questioning the Claims of Psychoanalysis and Religion
Emotion and Spirit: Questioning the Claims of Psychoanalysis and Religion
by Neville Symington
Edition: Paperback
Price: £28.12

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A courageous appeal to reconcile religion and psychoanalysis, 12 Aug. 2005
Psychoanalysis (with Freud as its founder) has refused to acknowledge religious values; equally is religion reluctant to accept and integrate psychoanalytical practices in counseling. Symington says that if religion is to address the emotional needs of people, especially in intimate relationships, it is to make use of psychoanalytical practices.
Symington appeals to both, religion and psychoanalysis to combine forces: religion in the purpose giving task to pass on meaningful values and psychoanalysis in sounding out the depths of ones own potential for good and vulnerability to evil.
In the pursuit to sound out depths of psyche or soul, the searching person, for whom religious practices, i.e. catholic confession or evangelical quick-fix, are too ritualistic or too superficial, will certainly find this book helpful.
Besides, I found that Symington was helpful in clarifying the differences between guilt passed down to us by others (superego) and guilt originating from suppressing our own conscience: Symington says that if we ignore our own conscience we are to conjure up [true] guilt. As tension between true guilt and false guilt can cause serious illnesses, religion should welcome the tools of psychoanalysis. I think Symington is right, because religion with its devotional and membership orientated structure can provide a long-term support for people with profound needs. However, religion, especially if it's too dogmatic, struggles with the idea of encouraging the individual to listen to his own conscience, rather than to religious teaching. In their zeal to save people, some see psychoanalysis as some kind of an anti-Christian worldly threat. Symington does not argue his point from a specific religion's point of view. If he did, he would have found a rich contribution from Jesus' insight alone; after all wasn't it Jesus who, long before psychoanalysis was discovered, spoke (a propos judging others) with authority at looking into our own dark corners. (Mat.7:1-5)
The non-judgmental aspect of religion is especially important, because without it, religion can easily take the place of an intimidating authority, leaving us with a burdening legacy (superego), which can blur our view to distinguish between indoctrination and conscience.
Accepting people the way they are (non-conditional love) has always been one of religions virtues contribution, but I think I can hear Symington say, that religion could do more for those who are ready to receive more than merely being paternalised and consolidated.
Symington's controversial conclusion of his fascinating study is that psychoanalysis itself is spiritual in character. Symington says that, like all developed religion, psychoanalysis is distinctly different from primitive religion and, like Jesus or Buddha, seeks to balance harmony between inner peace and peace with others, by focusing on the essential that can not be separated from deeds of virtues.
Any one convinced that spirituality is part of being human, like a vessel; in need to be filled with meaning and, that the psyche or soul is worthy of profound examination, this book is an absolute must!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 14, 2011 4:36 PM BST


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