"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

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Thursday, 9 December 2010

The Sacred Activist - an agent of profound change


By the side of my bed and in my study I have so many piles of books - books waiting to be read, books to finish reading, books I must have thought were a good idea when I bought them but which languish forgotten at the bottom of one of those piles. But this book by Andrew Harvey, the inspired visionary and mystic, is so good - I could hardly bear to put it down and I read it in just a few sittings.
Those who read these blogs regularly will know my passion for any books that try to find a happier and more peaceable way forward through and beyond the mess we have made of this world, particularly when the proposals are spiritually based and give us all the chance to change words into deeds.
But as a Christian I always approach books that seem to be of a "new age" or mystical nature with some caution.

However I warmed to Harvey’s theme as I saw the respect he holds for the faiths and religious beliefs held by others, for the wisdom of the elders both past and living today, and his love for Jesus Christ, the Wounded Healer, the greatest love of his heart throughout his life, he claims. But this is the Jesus Christ of the Gospel of Thomas, and many may be unable to reconcile the Gnostic teachings of Christ with their own faith.

Nonetheless after many years of study and immersing himself in different mystical traditions and their sacred texts, which he uses generously throughout this book, he is well qualified to write of these things and to form a vision of a new mystic spirituality. It is hard to disagree with the aims of any mysticism that calls for love and compassion in all we do, for unconditional forgiveness, and that understands our innate need to live in joy and peace, with total respect and love for all sentient beings. “Hope for our survival lies in massive spiritual transformation and radical action,” he writes, and I cannot disagree with that.

He therefore urges us to become Sacred Activists and envisions what he calls Networks of Grace, small groups at community level spread across the globe where his ideas can be put into practice. He has even formed an Institute and a Global Curriculum for Sacred Activities. I have to say that the practices he proposes to nourish us spiritually and the Networks he outlines bear remarkable similarity to many of the activities of my own church and doubtless of others across the land. And I do therefore question whether a newly defined mysticism or faith is necessary. But I really recommend you read this book, whether of faith or none, if you are receptive at all to the idea of spirituality and its importance in our lives. At the very least everyone could profitably read and act upon the "Ten Things you can do Right Now," (plus one added for good measure and because, he says, 11 is a sacred number) with which the book opens.

(Some of this is taken from my full review that has been posted on Amazon.
)

3 comments:

Mara Reid said...

Hey, Eleanor.
I looked at your review and also the review of Brad Laughlin.
Instead of making a lengthy comment here I made blog post at my place.
The way people perceive things can really cause them to misunderstand what is going on.
I tried to address the concerns of my friend Jane to the best of my ability and hope I got across the case for the wounded healer and sacred activism sufficiantly.

Mara Reid said...

Again, I hope I haven't said anything offensive or out of order. Jane has put in her two cents. I was wondering if you had any to put in.

Eleanor said...

Hi Mara
sorry have been so busy but have now posted comment over at your place. This is such a complex issue - I agree heartily with what you have said - such a thoughtful response from you - I will think further on this and perhaps come back again when have had more time.

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