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Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (by Ben Johnson)

EMS

As part of my new year, I want to be more diligent in my reading. This was a book that I saw recommended on a marriage site I sometimes read. I found the premise of the book intriguing: just because you are spiritually mature does not mean that you are emotionally mature. It really comes down to the fact that just because you go to church, read your Bible and know many facts about the Bible does not mean that you respond to everything correctly.

In the book, the author points out the problem very well. He explains and shows through his own failure how he had become the pastor of a church but yet was failing. He had many unhealthy emotional tendencies. These caused him to put his marriage and family in trouble. In this process of discovery, he found that no matter how high we may minister and know the Bible, there are deep emotional scars from the past that hinder us becoming more Christlike.

He then offers (somewhat) a solution: focusing back our lives on God. This is where the book gets trickier because he has obviously been influenced and admires both monasticism and Christian mysticism. He tells that we should reorient our lives and take specific times to pray and focus on God. We must realize that our lives are not about just doing things for God but being with God Himself.

This is a book with a lot of bones and not a lot of meat. I do believe he pointed out the problem very well. I can see in my own life how my past has hindered my emotional development and seen areas that need work. His solution in theory is correct but the way he practices it is dangerous. It is known as contemplative spirituality/mysticism and there is no room to explain but when you see terms like: desert fathers, lectio divina, centering prayer and other things like that; it is smart to stay away from it.

I did like his chapter that people are people and not its. People have emotions, feelings and dreams; they are not machines simply to be used and discarded. Yet still overall, I would not recommend this book. The first half is decent but the ending is not so great.

 

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