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Customer Review

on 9 May 2011
This is a small format hardback, with dust jacket, there is an introduction (which you can probably skip) and a good contents page. The book is structured using its headings, "chapters" are short, generally consisting of a few pages at most and broken up into a number of numbered passages and usually a couple of paragraphs long. The font and lettering is good, its black and red ink. So if you are considering any of a range of editions of this one book I'd suggest you look no further and get this one. Its about large enough for a cargo pants side pocket or a coat pocket so its transportable enough to take on the train.

The book itself is a collection of reflective statements or spiritual direction written by a monk, there are contained observations and reflections on scriptures, sacraments and the religious life, it is obvious that the book is intended for an audience of the religious and devotees. There are some real spiritual insights here, often they are points that perhaps would have occured to the reader already or momentarily and slipped the mind, for instance that it is vanity to spend a lot of time engaged in mystical or contemplative exercises (the example which a Kempis uses is the mystery of the Trinity) when much more basic behaviour, habits and thinking is unamended.

The patterns of behaviour and thinking which a Kempis encourages for devotees of the Christian faith are essentially peaceable, conscientious, socially conscious and humble. There are parallels with stoicism or cognitive behavioural adjustment theories and perhaps it would be possible to read and derive some consolation from these passages without being inclined to the religosity of the author but a Kempis does return repeatedly to his belief of an ultimate, as opposed to immediate or this worldly, reward. Consolation is ultimately derivative from God, Christ and heaven, while trials or challenges are ordained for the purposes of training or developing one self it is with a spiritual object in mind.

I would recommend this book to anyone, although it could be less intelligible to someone who is unfamiliar with the language that Christian texts use, for instance the idea of the trinity, the person of Jesus or idea of sin but all the same it is a brilliantly written book with a reflective turn at its heart which could give anyone a pause for thought.
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