Monday, June 29, 2015

A Year of Living Prayerfully

A Year of Living Prayerfully
© 2015 Jared Brock
352 pages

Emotionally weary from his fight against human trafficking, Jared Brock and his wife sought refreshment in prayer. A yearlong traveling retreat would immerse them in the prayer traditions of Orthodox Judaism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and the Protestant sects. Although a passionate Christian for most of his life, Brock's status as a thoroughly modern evangelical allows him to discover these traditions for the first time, and take lessons from them even as he retains his own convictions. Alternately reverent and cheeky, Brock is a comic but earnest guide to man's intense desire to touch the divine.  For the devout Christian, his thoughtful analysis of what he gleans from this yearlong study will no doubt be fruitful;  for instance, the importance of "kingdom-minded prayer" in which the seeker prays not for God to simply rescue him or do something for him, but attempts to surrender himself before the will of God in his own life, to abide in the presence of God and act not for reasons of self-will, but out of genuine love for one another. There are some dodgy moments, though -- Brock's wife jumping into a cold pond au naturale after saying various Jewish prayers, because they wanted to experience the ritual baptism and surprisingly no Orthodox Jews were open to having some evangelical woman "playing temple".  Brock purposely seeks out the bizarre -- the Westboro cult, Christian nudists, people walks on coals --  and these are included more for entertainment value than anything else. The early parts of the book, however, in  which Brock visits Israel and walks a pilgrimage route in Spain, even meeting Pope Francis, offer far more substance, like Brock's thoughtful dismay at the crass commercialization of Jerusalem.  The bizaare aspects make the work somewhat attractive to secular audiences, however.

And then There Were Nuns, Jane Christmas. One woman's exploration of the contemplative life.
A Year of Living Biblically, A.J. Jacobs, of which this is a fairly transparent imitation

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