Friday, November 20, 2015

Book Review: "A Year of Living Prayerfully: How a Curious Traveler Met the Pope, Walked on Coals, Danced with Rabbis and Revived his Prayer Life" by Jared Brock

Jared Brock is not a good pray-er. He knows this. He knows it's a problem. So he hangs out with Jews, Catholics, Greek Orthodox (s?), nudists, Westboro Baptist Church members (which is worse than you are probably picturing, it was for me at least!), and more to get their perspectives on prayer. We're not going to talk about them all, of course.

Did you know that Pyongyang in (what is now) North Korea used to be a huge center of Protestant Christianity in the 30s and 40s? Billy Graham's wife grew up in Pyongyang, her parents were medical missionaries. After the Korean War things changed as the political power shifted. Christians were sought out and executed, or if they were lucky driven underground. Obviously now the situation is even worse for Christians there.

He spends time at a Greek Orthodox monastery high in the mountains of Greece (that apparently Prince Charles also visits). Here he talks about the 5 word prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me, a sinner." (The monk explains that it's only 5 words in Greek, haha). He said that he prays it several times a day, especially while doing monotonous manual labor. Breathes in "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God"- Breathes out "Have mercy on me a sinner". I think I'm going to start doing that in my yoga classes. A good way to concentrate on something good and keep your mind from wandering.

He walks over coals after a multi-hour "church service" (Wesley editorializing a little bit there) led by Tim Robbins. I don't understand what walking over coals has to do with God, or at least the Christian God. Jared seemed equally confused by the whole thing.

The book had a lot of bolded quotes interspersed in the chapters, here is one I liked the best:
"You pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him".

I'm going to be honest, there's a few things that bugged me about this book. They aren't deal breakers by any means but they struck me as odd.

1)He makes beard jokes at every opportunity. Like, I don't know if you're familiar with this guy before reading this book and he has a thing about beards and I just don't get it? But anywhere there are constant jokes and comments on people's beards. It was weird. Like, okay you think beards are really noteworthy and funny you can stop.

2)His picture appears 15 times on or in this book. This doesn't include the author picture on that back of the book jacket or the pictures that document his trip. A lot of the pictures are him in the dress of the people that he talks about in the chapter. So the chapter where they are in Rome, there's a goofy picture of him dressed as a cardinal at the top of the chapter. I felt like it was at best: weird, at worst: offensive.

Overall I give it a 3.2 stars out of 5.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for your comment. I'd love to talk books with you!