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God wants to surprise you with the beauty of your own life, growing and alive, filled with movement, light and shadow. This is the book to do just that.
Number of Pages: 160
Vendor: InterVarsity Press
Publication Date: 2008
|Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)|
Having said this we must ask whether journaling is wrong. The short answer is no. Many of the great saints of God throughout the years have written diaries and journals to aid them in their walk with God. Admittedly, there are other methods that believers practice to expedite their spiritual development which do not come directly from a chapter and verse. Certainly the Lord allows latitude within biblical parameters to find and use methods to help us worship Him and understand His ways. Writing down our thoughts, insights, struggles, and understanding and application of Scripture can have great benefits. Still, it must be remembered that there is no mandate in Scripture to journal, nor is everyone predisposed to do so. For those interested in journaling, this book offers much in the way of helpful advice, practical suggestions and encouragement.
Thats the good news. The devil, as they say is in the details. Journaling attempts, as many books of this genre do, to use Jeremiah 6:16, Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths (p. 92) as biblical support. But, of course, Jeremiah was calling the people back to the ancient paths of God as taught in the Word. Cepero is calling her readers back to the ancient paths of Roman Catholic and Eastern monastic and mystical practices which were not even on Jeremiahs radar. Her book is filled with methods and references to and quotes from those who developed and are followers of this system: Henri Nouwen (p. 21), Nouwens LArche community in France (p. 21), Quakers (p. 78), Stations of the Cross (pp. 117-118), spiritual directors (pp. 123, 151), Thomas Merton (p. 148), Ignatius of Loyola (p. 72) and his examen prayer (p. 81), etc. As I said, Cepero is not taking her reader back to Scripture but back to Roman and Eastern Orthodoxy.
In addition, we find many troubling statements and practices throughout: Yoga (pp. 16, 62), God comes to the place where we are and says our name (p. 31), God our beloved, born of a womans body (p. 61), the body does not lie (p. 63), our sexuality can lead us into an intimacy that speaks of Gods own presence (p. 65), use of symbols to aid journaling (p. 74), naming our wounds can help heal them as we grieve over them (pp. 125, 131). I am good because God created me (p. 127), If we name God as our lover (p. 127), May the presence of the Holy Spirit fill your sleep and speak in your dreams (p. 133), The voice of God tends to be gentle and soft (p. 149). Each of these and others deserve analysis and challenge by the discerning Christian.
But the most concerning teaching in Ceperos book is reserved for what she calls dialogue journaling (pp. 104-112). Here, the reader is taught to wait for God to speak and reveal His Word and Self to us through some sort of inner voice or thought. For example, the reader is told to write in their journal the word God and then wait for a response (p. 104). On one occasion God responded to her, and she wrote in her journal, Helen, welcome back, Ive missed you (p. 105). Cepero explains, All journaling, but perhaps especially dialogue journaling, is dependent on the good use of imagination (p. 108). Why these imaginary words from God are seen as superior to the infallible Word of God is truly a mystery to me. But herein lies the great danger of the book. When we turn from the revelation of God to inferior traditions of the past and the imaginary, and possible cultic, communications of the present we turn from the rock solid Word of truth to the quicksand of human ideas. For this reason Journaling as a Spiritual Practice is truly a dangerous work.
NOTE: It should be noted that a pre-publication version of this book was used in the review. The page numbers may be somewhat different in the final publication.
Gary Gilley, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
"Helen Cepero's book is warm and unassuming, full of wisdom without any showing off. A wonderful introduction to journaling." Tim Stafford, author of Shaking the System
"This is a book which should not be (merely) read. It should be done. Her book is a vast smorgasbord of particular experiences in the practice of journal-keeping, each one inviting the readers to 'taste and see' the presence of God in their lives. This book opens up the rich potential in journaling, warns us of the patterns of thinking that threaten to derail this practice and provides the tools to make it a valuable means of pursuing relationship with God." Evan B. Howard, author of Praying the Scriptures