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Author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, THE EMPTY ROOM, OUR DAILY BREAD, and others. Find out more at www.LaurenBDavis.com. I read as if my sanity depended upon it.. . . oh, wait, it does! Snort.

Not enough 'Light'

The Shattered Lantern: Rediscovering a Felt Presence of God - Ronald Rolheiser

As a great believer in contemplative prayer and the contemplative tradition of folks such as Thomas Merton, I was hoping to find inspiration and a guide to deepening my understanding and experience.  I didn't, not really..  Perhaps this book isn't really meant for someone like me, who doesn't need convincing.  Perhaps if I were skeptical of, or unfamiliar with, the idea of resting in God (whatever one perceives that entity to be - I call it The Ineffable), or prayers of consent, then this book might get me thinking.  

Having said that, I still don't think it would inspire me. Rolheiser, a Roman Catholic priest, General Councillor for Canada for his order, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, is also the author of "The Holy Longing".  His bio says he is "concerned with reawakening the fire of spirituality for people who sense its absence, or are not every aware of it."  This is surely a noble quest, but so much of this book seemed, well, cranky.  There is a great deal of finger-wagging at the reader, for our "unbridled restlessness", the self-centeredness of young people in pre-marriage classes, our "incapacity to recognize the reality of others", the dangers of the non-contemplative personality, for which "reality holds no dimensions of mystery beyond the empirical."  This all felt like a disapproving school-master to me, and with a little twist in perspective it might have been written by one of the neo-atheists.  

Still, I suspect much of my response has to do with personal sensibility.  If this approach is new to you, this book will give you some information as a starting point, but I certainly couldn't stop too long here.  
"Many people" the author tells us, "while rejecting any explicit belief in God or any other absolute, invariably set up certain ideals as normative -- and then invest these ideals with an absoluteness that mimics and parallels every movement of religion."  Is that even true?  And why would, I, someone seeker a deeper experience of The Ineffable, need to have my gaze directed there, rather than into the heart of God?  

The most moving passages to me were those in which Rolheiser quoted Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen, Alan Jones, Nikos Kazantzak and others, which tells me that I might find more inspiration and guidance in their writings than here.