Book Reviews

  1. An unhurried life: Following Jesus’ Rhythms of Work and Rest by Alan Fadling. (Reviewed by Chris)

SLOW DOWN! Take-stock! Reflect! Breathe! Be still! Such were some of the important warnings that Fadling writes about in this delightful book — a timely message in a society that seems to encourage people to wear business as a badge of supreme honour. Indeed, sometimes it is important to ask ourselves why are we so busy in the first place? What is actually making us hurry and hurry through the entirety of life, at that. Why do we seem to be so flustered and so all-over-the-place? In this book, Fadling artfully links hurriedness to spirituality and spiritual growth (or the lack thereof). “Hurry becomes a veil that obscures the Lord’s grandeur and beauty. (…) A veil of hurriedness, fuleled by a sense of drivenness, keeps me from beholding the Almighty’s face.” This book made me realise that I too was living a hurried life, one that really obscured my sensitivity to the Lord’s grandeur and beauty. This book helped me to take-stock and slow down. Perhaps most importantly, this book helped me to be present and intentional in my life.

  1. God of Surprises by Gerard W. Hughes. (Reviewed by Chris)

“Our treasure lies in our inner life. It is our inner life which affects our perception of the world and determines our actions and reactions to it.” Indeed, the focus on one’s interior life is one of the core features of Hughes’ classic work: God of Surprises. Really, then, if I don’t encounter, manage and deal with the inner chaos that is within, I then externalise that chaos outward. If I don’t sit with that discomfort and gradual liberation in knowing that I am loved as I am, I then externalise and cripple others with harsh judgements devoid of compassion, holding them to an impossibly idealistic goal that I myself will be unable to achieve as well. Hughes requests for a critical yet gentle self-reproach and self-reflection. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on “Inner Chaos and False Images of God” as it helped me identify the many false images of God that I have had in my life. In doing so and in gaining a greater awareness of about these false images of God, I am then better equipped to (re)discover God. This was not necessarily an easy book to read (I found myself stopping at many junctures to reflect and ponder about the issues raised by Hughes) but it was enriching and invigorating nonetheless.

  1. Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go by Richard Rohr. (Reviewed by Chris)

I’ve always been a fan of Richard Rohr’s books and Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go is no exception. There’s a certain gentleness and intentionality in Rohr’s writing that speaks deeply to my heart. In this book, Rohr raises numerous issues concerning (but not limited to) church, community and concupiscence in this book. He poses challenging questions that demands reflection and introspection on the part of the reader. For example, I truly agree with him when he mentions that “[i]f spiritual conversion doesn’t lead us to letting go of and surrendering our lives and being able to go beyond ourselves, I believe it remains just an illusion; not real love of God but love of self.” Indeed, what else encapsulates the essence of spiritual growth than a generous spirit that seeks to serve rather than be served, an open disposition that freely responds to the call of God and a deep desire to go wherever that call may lead to. As per my usual encounters with Rohr’s books, I find myself mentally gnawing upon the many striking ideas that is presented in Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go. This was a thoroughly engaging and enriching read.

  1. Loved as I am: An invitation to Conversion, Healing, and Freedom Through Jesus by Miriam James Heidland SOLT. (Reviewed by Chris)

This book is essentially about self-(re)discovery through Jesus. Heildland writes in a beautifully simple and disarmingly vulnerable manner. She documents much of her life-story in this book. I was able to relate to much of what she shared in her book, especially to her initial conversion experiences and struggle with faith. Though the main thematic concerns of the book revolve around conversion, healing and freedom, there is also a fair amount of emphasis placed on acceptance, intimacy and community. One particular quote that I reflected deeply upon is the following — “True intimacy is found in knowing and being known by the other, and this longing for intimacy is written in the fiber of our hearts, souls and bodies.” Indeed, and as Heidland aptly states, all of us are “made for goodness, truth and beauty. We long for more because we are made for more. This is humanity’s calling.” This book, then, serves as a reminder and helps reorientates readers to the important things of life.

  1. If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the book by John Ortberg. (Reviewed by Chris)

“It is a paradox: Self-preoccupation is actually self-defeating and produces loneliness.” This quote is just one of the many poignant and remarkable insights that Ortberg offers in his book. Written with profound clarity, Ortberg deals with the various thresholds of trust, pertaining to the discipleship of Jesus. He elaborates on the importance of heeding a call, letting-go of attachments and keeping one’s eyes focused on Jesus, amidst the storms and tribulations of life. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can understand why two of my friends readily recommended this book to me. It is a book that has enlarged my perspective of things — one that has challenged me to (re)evaluate and take-stock of my current faith journey.

  1. The High Crusade by Poul Anderson. (Reviewed by Garrett)

What can a work of fiction tell us about faith? Poul Anderson’s sci-fi novel The High Crusade tells the story of medieval villagers, led by the knight Sir Roger, as they come into conflict with a galaxy-conquering alien empire. Written with a light-hearted and humorous tone, the novel shows that no matter how outclassed you find yourself, the gift of faith can grant you both the humility not to overestimate yourself or the obstacles you faced, and the dignity to face said obstacles with your head held high.

See the full review here.