Archives For Mysticism

 

“Overwhelmed by a sense
of  God’s presence
and breathtaking beauty

A Review of
Present Perfect:
Finding God in the Now
.
By Greg Boyd.

Reviewed by Shaun C. Brown.

Present Perfect:
Finding God in the Now
.
Greg Boyd.

Paperback: Zondervan, 2010.
Buy now: [ ChristianBook.com ]

Greg Boyd - Present PerfectIn his new book, Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now, pastor and theologian Gregory Boyd advocates what he calls, “the most important discipline that you could ever practice” (10).  Drawing upon two monks from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Brother Lawrence and Jean-Pierre de Caussade, as well as a twentieth century evangelical missionary and literacy advocate, Frank Laubach, Boyd defends the need for Christians to practice the presence of God.

To illustrate the need of Christians to be aware of God’s presence, Boyd tells a story of a time he went on a run through the woods to train for an ultra-marathon.  While Boyd ran, his mind focused on the upcoming race and his performance in it.  A few hours into his run, he noticed a cricket chirping.  Boyd then noticed more and more crickets, and then some frogs, bees, and birds.  Boyd then noticed the beauty of the scenery around him and the fragrances.  Boyd says:

The moment felt sacred.  I felt I was waking up to God’s presence permeating all things and reflecting in all things.  It seemed I was, for the first time, waking up to the way the world is supposed to be experienced—the way it really is.  Overwhelmed by this sense of  God’s presence and breathtaking beauty, I began to weep (13).

Boyd uses this story to illustrate how many Christians go through life seemingly unaware of God’s presence around them.  Boyd calls on them to awaken to the “reality . . . that God is present in . . . every moment” (15).

Continue Reading…

 

“My Heart is Full of Love
Even Though Nothing Went As Planned”

 

A Review of
The Passion of Mary-Margaret
by Lisa Samson

 

Reviewed by Brittany Sanders

The Passion of Mary-Margaret (A Novel)
Lisa Samson
Paperback: Thomas Nelson, 2009.
Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Books $12 ]  [ Amazon ]

 

 

In 2009, amidst a culture dependent on text messages, iPhones and a faster pace of life than ever before, few would consider the lifestyle of a Catholic nun to be more exciting than their own. But in her newest novel, The Passion of Mary-Margaret, Lisa Samson manages to portray a heroine and a story that even the most modern-minded readers will find intriguing and compelling.
From the start, several elements set Samson’s novel apart from (and above) the average piece of Christian fiction. First, there is the non-traditional story structure. Based on the premise of recently discovered memoirs written by the now-deceased religious sister Mary-Margaret, the chapters follow multiple chronologies at once, tracing Mary-Margaret’s life during the time of the writings (at age seventy) while relating the story of her younger years in carefully chosen episodes. This fresh approach provides the double advantage of keeping the reader on his or her toes and avoiding the overused “flashback” technique, which can easily slip from conventional to clichéd. In this way, the plot unfolds not forward, nor backward, but inward, by increasing degrees of clarity. The destination is no secret; it’s the journey that becomes mysterious as readers wonder not “what will happen in the end?” but “how will the end happen?”

Mary-Margaret reveals early on that she has a son, John, but there is no explanation given as to how this religious sister came by her offspring. Left to assume that she will marry, but not yet getting to that point in the story, the reader hangs in an unusual tension—and a unique opportunity for the author to fill in the gaps. Since the heart of the story is the fluctuating romance between Mary-Margaret and her childhood friend, Jude, it is not difficult to guess who John’s father is. But by unfolding the circumstances piece-by-piece while shifting between present and past, Mary-Margaret and Jude’s relationship feels deeper and more meaningful at every turn. To bring them together, the hand of Providence must overcome deeper wounds and darker secrets than anyone would expect. The result is not a surprise ending but a conclusion all the more satisfying for its inevitability. Loose ends are tied up out of impossibly tangled lives, and an elegant and unexpected symmetry appears. This conclusion gives The Passion of Mary-Margaret an old-fashioned, almost classical sense of unity. Continue Reading…