I heard about this book from my BIL who is in seminary. The reason I gave it 3 stars and not 4 was that I found it pretty heavy, academic reading. I uI heard about this book from my BIL who is in seminary. The reason I gave it 3 stars and not 4 was that I found it pretty heavy, academic reading. I used to enjoy this kind of stuff more, but now with my limited sleep schedule I find it difficult to plow through something like this. Still, it was a unique take on integrating neuroscience with theology, and it presents some very provocative challenges to "Christian" ideas such as: existence of a "soul" that somehow survives the body after death; intermediate states between death and resurrection; and Descartes' idea that persons, or minds, are somehow separate from the bodies they inhabit. Interesting to see how prevailing Western philosophy is so easily read back into biblical texts, and to reflect upon neuroscience's recent contributions to our understanding of what makes us "human," "conscious", and/or "alive." The continual re-modeling and re-forming of our neural synapses throughout life, with consequent visible neuroanatomic changes, suggests that it is never too late to change, grow, or become what we would like to be....more
I have only read one other book by Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk. I loved that one and I appreciated this one because it filled in some of the gaI have only read one other book by Kathleen Norris, The Cloister Walk. I loved that one and I appreciated this one because it filled in some of the gaps in her personal life that I had wondered about (what was her husband up to while she was spending so much time in that monastery? - and what did he think?). I liked her exploration of acedia and I have struggled with it at times, but not recently at all. In that sense it was hard to relate. It seems like a writer's life (or a monk's) would be high risk for acedia, and it made me glad I have so much going on (work, family, friends) that I don't suffer from that. On the flip side, I don't have as much personal time or solitude as I would like, but that's OK. I really resonated with her expressions of desire for motherhood, since I spent some years there as well. If you like reflection and lots of quotations by ancient spiritual writers, you'll probably like this book.
Oh, I almost forgot my favorite take-away from this book. It made me feel that the routine, mundane, boring tasks of everyday life (especially with young kids) are significant and meaningful. When I read about monks whose goal was to dedicate themselves to prayer, meditation on Scripture and manual labor, I could relate, in a strange way, as so much of my life seems devoted to mundane housework...but the work itself may become a prayer....more
It's a remarkable story, that's for sure. A fascinating window into the Christian house church in China. It left me with some unanswered questions - IIt's a remarkable story, that's for sure. A fascinating window into the Christian house church in China. It left me with some unanswered questions - I'm curious as to the true status of the "officially sanctioned" 3-self church in China and its relationship to the house churches. Clearly, even though China is opening up remarkably compared to in the past, human rights abuses toward Christians are still a reality. Made me appreciate our religious freedoms here - something I've taken for granted my whole life....more