Featured Reviews, VOLUME 5

Night of the Confessor – Tomás Halík [Review]

Page 2 – Night of the Confessor – Tomás Halík

The tone of the book is pretty equally split between meditative and irascible.  Halík has no qualms about calling a spade a spade, labeling charismatic gatherings in stadiums “religious clownery” or denouncing certainty in the afterlife as “vapid and inane.”  I appreciated that Halík takes an equally incisive look at human suffering, death, science or Eastern religious traditions as he does the foibles of his fellow Christians.  Frankly, I’ve always kind of liked an old priest telling it like it is despite the presence of doe-eyed youth or self-satisfied, feel good parishioners.  Still, I can see some being off-put by the initial ire at whole movements within Christianity or society. If the reader sticks with him, he balances his statements with qualifications, acknowledges the good to be salvaged and recognizes the purposes served by what he critiques.

For those who seek certainty, Night of the Confessor offers little help, but to those who seek faithfulness to the paradoxical God of Christ, it is an apt initiation into mystery, silence and “God’s ciphers in the events of their own lives.”


Seth Forwood lives in Fort Collins, CO with his wife, Brooke, and son, Asa.  He is an Educator and Beekeeper at Harvest Farm, a free drug and alcohol treatment facility and working farm.

C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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One Comment

  1. Halik is open to acceptance of other faiths, especially in their tradition of mysticism and negative theology. What we know about God is far exceeded by what we do not know. In a brief summary:

       Scriptures, theologians and many religious leaders tell us what the divine is by listing grandiose attributes. Most mystics worship personal aspects of the divine, but they also speak of what it is not. Many of them said that the divine essence is nothing, i.e. no thing, that it is immanent in all things, yet it is transcendent to everything. Mystics consider this seeming paradox to be a positive negation.

      Avidya, non-knowledge in Sanskrit, is used in Buddhism for our “spiritual ignorance” of the true nature of Reality. Bila kaif, without knowing how in Arabic, is Islam’s term for “without comparison” to describe Allah. Ein Sof, without end in Hebrew, is the “infinite beyond description” in the Kabbalah. Neti, neti, not this, not this in Sanskrit, refers to “unreality of appearances” to define Brahman. In via negativa, the way of negation in Latin, God is “not open to observation or description.”   

    Mysticism emphasizes spiritual knowing, which is not rational and is independent of reason, logic or images. Da`at is Hebrew for “the secret sphere of knowledge on the cosmic tree.” Gnosis is Greek for the “intuitive apprehension of spiritual truths.” Jnana is Sanskrit for “knowledge of the way” to approach Brahman. Ma`rifa in Arabic is “knowledge of the inner truth.” Panna in Pali is “direct awareness”; perfect wisdom. These modes of suprarational knowing, perhaps described as complete intuitive insight, are not divine oneness; they are actualizing our inherent abilities to come closer to the goal.

    (quoted from “the greatest achievement in life,” my free ebook on comparative mysticism)http://www.peacenext.org/profile/RonKrumpos