Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

Spiritual Book Review: “Your Life….Understanding the Universal Laws” by Bruce McArthur

April 20, 2012

This particular post is a kind of trilogy of understanding that I’m recently embracing and hope to share with others.  We know what Love is, is there more?

Bruce McArthur has undertaken an adventuresome book.  The full title is “Your Life: Why It Is the Way It Is and What You Can Do About It – Understanding the Universal Laws” by Bruce McArthur.   It’s too long of a title to have as the name of this particular post.  Compared with the wisdom and insight of this book the lengthy name is inconsequential .  The book is ISBN #0-87604-300-7 and is about 276 pages long.

Bruce MacArthur was an Electrical Engineer and an Executive.  He pondered that state of the world and had the courage to wonder “How does it work?” He was familiar with the teachings of Jesus and understood learning the lessons of Love.

In his introduction he makes a very clear case for his questions and searching.  He sought to know how the Universe works.   What is the Spiritual Structure of this world?    What is the bottom line?

He begins his case with  the thought that God’s Laws must be Universal and unmutable (unchangeable), they must apply equally  to everyone.   He makes the analogy of electricity laws.  He learned these laws of electricity in his youth and realized that they were so perfect he could imagine and design whole circuits with nothing but pen and paper.  Upon leaving his study he could then build these circuits right every time, the first time.  He knew too that these electricity laws were equally good in India, Ohio, or Sweden.  The electricity laws are Universal. From these simple electrical explorations he realized that God’s Laws must be like this.   In fact, he again realized that even the mere electricity laws were part and parcel  of God’s Laws.    Nothing is separated, nothing is isolated.

He began a more earnest journey to know these Universal Spiritual Laws and eventually found the  teachings of a spiritual healer that imparted these laws sensibly.

In short, but not all, some of these Laws are:

“As you sow so shall you reap”

“Like begets Like”

“There is nothing by chance”

“As you give you gain in understanding”

“Spirit is the Life, Mind is the builder, Physical is the result”

These are but a smattering of his so-called research of the Universal Spiritual Laws.  In the back of the book he lists 32 separate laws that should be applicable in one’s life.  They are very good laws.

My own thoughts: electricity laws and Universal Laws share other common attributes.   Like electricity laws the Universal Laws are impartial, they shock, harm or alarm exactly alike or the can build and shine a light unto the world.

Addendum: I haven’t referenced the teacher healer by name because while I give credit where credit is due I realize that Mankind desperately wants to play the “My guru is better than your guru game.”   If each of us searches in the same manner that Bruce McArthur has, we can actually see more, be more and understand more.

http://www.amazon.com/Your-Life-About-Understanding-Universal/dp/0876043007/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1319457949&sr=1-1

“There is an orderliness in the universe, there is an unalterable law governing everything and every being that exists or lives. It is no blind law; for no blind law can govern the conduct of living beings”
      -Mahatma Gandi
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Spiritual Book Review: Dating Jesus

August 30, 2011

The Spiritual Book reviews actually covers ANY book that has any spiritual/religious insight or meaning.   Slight Spoiler alert: If you are an ardent believer in God and your personal faith and feel that your faith is sufficient than you may not want to read anymore.    I personally believe that God is working everywhere all the time.  I believe that God is teaching things in those individual religions for an individual instruction to fulfil that person’s total reunion with God.  Sometimes though God wants us to grow in other ways and we may have a path that is less than traditional. 

“Dating Jesus” was written by Susan Campbell and published in 2009.  In trying to write an honest review I have to be truthful about the less than good things about this book.   Please keep in mind though that I feel the book is meaningful and worthwhile to read otherwise I wouldn’t write a review at all.  

1. The book could have been longer, it was only 205 pages long.

2. She skips important and meaningful things in her personal life that probably had a direct impact upon her religious/spiritual values.

3. The larger development  about her faith is questioned as to whether it crumbled away or a full-blown spiritual realignment occurred. 

I believe that the editor and publisher should have compelled a greater input and direction for the answers to the above shortcomings.  

There….I got that out-of-the-way.  I don’t like being negative but at the same time if it’s the truth I can’t paint over it and let future readers believe that the book  is supremely great.  It’s just merely GREAT.

I admire Susan Campbell for her courage to write this book. It’s very honest account of growing up in a bedrock, good as gold fundamentalist religion from Missouri, the back bone of middle America.  This is not altogether a book about spiritual growth as much as it is a book about the spiritual realizations about her own faith that she was raised to believe in. She still believes in God, but differently.

As a child growing up she followed her faith and did as she was asked.  She was Baptised and then Baptized again.   He community, her friends were almost all belonging to the same church. She and her friends would proselytize door to door to find new members.  Frequently she made clear to others that belief in God and Jesus were not sufficient, that their church was the one true church. Any other church wouldn’t do.  She attended church three times a week.  That was an important facet of their social world.  She became an excellent Bible student and would attend Bible camps.   It soon becomes apparent that Susan Campbell does know her Bible because several Bible quotes are referenced throughout the book.  

As she states so aptly, “”So begins my memorization of vast snatches of the Bible-Old and New Testament. I can recite the books and the apostles and the Beatitudes.”  Her teachers proclaim, “that girl know her Bible.” 

Her realizations of unfairness and differences came as she watched her brother ascend to a beginning ministry position.   It was made clear that she could never do that or be that. Further dashed hopes were the differences in the sports area.   The boys were encouraged and applauded.  The girls were merely tolerated.  One was real and earnest, the other was just entertainment. When Title IX was enacted to promote equality in high school sports some things even changed.  It still took a long time to bring about even a semblance of fairness and equality.

The most important thing that I learned from the book is that in 1909, two bothers named Lyman and Milton Stewart, compiled a number of religious writings of the time and published them as The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth. It was originally a twelve volume tract that essentially defined and gave birth to the beginnings of Fundamentalism.   These books were then sent FREE  to several ministers, missionaries, YMCA and YWCA  secretary’s, College Professors, Church superintendents and other like-minded leading Christians throughout the United States and the World.  While many of these ideas are  subject to great debate and controversy I believe that the authors intentions were sincere.   I am not an advocate of fundamentalism but  I understand now how these ideas became so widespread even though many themes have non-existent or debatable reference in the Bible and even the exaltation of the Bible. For more information see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fundamentals.

The other main point of the book is when Susan Campbell goes back to Missouri and visits with her brother and his family.   They attend church while she’s there and she sees that it’s different….very different.   The church has modern musical instruments while her original church didn’t even have a piano.   The choir doesn’t have that familiar closed four-part harmony.  It becomes obvious that many members don’t really know their Bible, at least not like her and her brother did when they were kids.  

This realization becomes something that she realizes is lost.  Not just for others, but herself too.  She laments and regrets that at one time she had total and complete conviction, total religious understanding, total purpose and spiritual meaning in her life.   There was NOTHING grey or fuzzy or uncertain.   Her religious life had purpose, meaning and direction. 

In moving from children to adults,  in seeing reality intruding, we observe that things are not always what we have been taught. Sometimes, such as in Susan’s case, we question ourselves and the so-called values we’ve been taught.   We try to find real answers for real questions.

Many of the things Susan has been through have occurred in many others, myself included.  I applaud her courage and vision to dispense with the old even if she doesn’t have a replacement of new values and spiritual understandings.   That’s what takes real courage.   She didn’t switch, she didn’t just change religions or try something else.   She just evolved and grew.  That is FAITH.   She truly is letting go and letting God work it.  

Even with all the things that I think I know, I pray that I will be able to discard my old ideas and rise to new understandings. I know that even now I’m relying on old ideas that are probably just a bridge to new understandings.

I rate this book an 8 out of 10 stars,    ********.  

Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl.      ISBN:    978-0-8070-1066-2

They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.
                                          Confucius

Spiritual Book Review: Your God Is Too Small

May 11, 2011

“Your God Is Too Small” by J. B. Phillips is an excellent book . This is a classic Religious/Spiritual book that was originally published in 1952.   I read it for my first time around about 1989. The book details the outdated ideas and misconceptions that people may have about God.  First, let me say that I don’t know if God is definable.   I have matured(a little) that I know a lot of what God isn’t.   This book basically shows how our childhood, teenage, & even adult definitions are probably out of date and that we ourselves don’t believe them.   After dispelling some old-time myths and misconceptions it then goes into thinking of  what God could be and such like that.  Because this writer was a thinker with abstract thoughts, it can sometimes seem dry. The book sections are Destructive Concepts and Constructive Concepts.

Allow me to cite some chapter names with some observations, that kind of says it all.  

Destructive concepts

1. Resident Policeman  

              This is God as a disciplinarian

2. Parental Hangover

            This is God as the nagging parents.

3. Grand Old Man

             God as GrandDad

 Excerpt interpretation…a research project of teenage youths revealed their sub-conscious thought about God being outdated.  When asked in the research “Does God understand radar?”  Instinctively many answered “No”.  Then they laughed because obviously God knows more than radar, Right?

4. Meek and Mild….

              Sweet Jesus

5.Absolute Perfection

              God is perfect, I think,….but is he/she static and inert or is he/she constantly growing also. Perfection may not exist.

Eight more Destructive Concept chapters.   You’ll have to read the book.

Constructive concepts

1. God unfocused

 My take on this chapter…..one of man’s projections of God with human attributes is the belief that if God is impersonal and gigantically huge than he can’t possibly know all things about all people.  This is making God out to be as a CEO or President of the United States. He can run the store but has little conception of the detail.  If we stop ascribing to God human attributes then we could see that God probably does know all things, everywhere with everybody. This is the belief that God is finite and his energies will thin out and be less applicable. In truth God is the Ultimate multi-tasker.

2. A Clue To Reality….

…….

11. Christ and the Question Of Sin

14.The Abolition If Death

A total of 16 Constructive Concept chapters. You’ll have to read the book.

Why this book is important is because as children we are told what God is and slowly over the years that initial idea may be tweaked or modified.   The problem with that is that the nature of God is very rarely completely explored and examined in-depth. 

I would rate this book 8 out of 10 stars, ********.  In all honesty I have to say that this book is NOT inspirational, I didn’t feel uplifted as in a sermon or a feeling.   However it does give great insight and understanding about our wrongly held beliefs in God.  I personally found that very  helpful.  It may be in the local or university libraries.  

 ISBN Number 0-7432-5509-7

124 pages

http://www.amazon.com/Your-God-Too-Small-Believers/dp/0743255097/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1305072558&sr=1-1

Spiritual Book Review: “Psychotherapy: Purpose, Process and Practice”

April 14, 2011

It’ s actually a pamphlet that’s 25 pages. It’s from the Foundation for Inner Peace which is part of the Course of Miracles Teaching.  The online site and the PDF version are below. For once I am at a loss for words. This is so well written, so clearly delineated that I can only say “you have to read it yourself”. It is a metaphysical writing. It’s summed up as the Teacher Imparting an Idea to the Brain of the Student, but it’s done through a slight of hand. It’s the patient making the Idea his own.

Since I can’t describe the book properly I’ll offer my closest analogy as realized by me having read the book.

Why does therapy takes so long?  

A patient enters the Psychologist’s office. The Doctor and Patient play The Game, “What is my problem, I’m unable to tell you or to see it for myself. I know I have a problem because everybody tells me so.” The Patient stands defiant, smoking his cigarette and half turning away from the doctor. He says “I have a problem Doc, and I need you to fix it but don’t change me, I’m really alright.” The problem here is that the “problem isn’t a car to be fixed by Tuesday or an object to be rebuilt.”  The problem is a very real and integral part of the person involved. For the Doctor to correct the problem the patient must change his Mind.  He must change to a new mindset, to do that, the patient must have an epiphanous vision of himself and his problem. The Doctor could guess or even tell him; “You have Sexual Orientation Problems,  You’re an Alcoholic, You have Anger issues”, but he knows that he can’t tell him. The patient must step outside of himself to see himself. Until then, the Doctor and patient keep playing the Game.

The patient may lie while all the time trying to get the Doctor’s trust. All the time he’s trying to enact the con game(i.e.; gain the doctors’ confidence) while the Doctor must discern the patient’s lies and denial and ferret out the truth. Even in real life we understand the principle of piercing the defenses with the truth by making the lesson the student’s own discovery. The patient must REALLY, REALLY WANT to be cured and only he(with some guided assistance) can do it.  To my knowledge it has never happened that a Doctor said, “Relax, go home, you’re alright.  Those other people are all wrong. They should have never intervened and convinced you to see me.  Here, let me rubberstamp your wellness card so you can get out here.”

We do this in real life too when we’re not getting through. When a Husband/Wife argue and their voices raise, they emphatically try to drive home each individual’s point. Each side is blind to the other’s side. The argument becomes more vocal and heated. Finally, the wife(or husband) may say “What’s wrong, what do you want me to do.” The Husband responds, “ I DON’T KNOW, YOU TELL ME.” What he’s really saying is “I can’t tell you, you figure it out, you’ll have to make it your own, .” In essence “When the student is ready to change their mind the lesson will be taught.” The first step is the realization and courage of the patient to ask another for help and to be honest with one’s own self. The therapist or teacher is only ever guiding the patient to their own realizations.

The pamphlet is so much better. The whole book can be found online at

 http://www.surrenderworks.com/acim_on_psychotherapy.html

PDF Version: http://www.surrenderworks.com/library/downloads/psychotherapy.pdf

Psychotherepy: Purpose, Process and Practice  25 pages    Cost $6.00    Rating 12 stars out of 10 ************.

It’s not for  sale anywhere except through the Foundation of Inner Peace. I checked both Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com

ISBN 0-9606388-6-5

Foundation for Inner Peace

PO Box 598, Mill Valley, CA 94942 (415) 388-2060

Spiritual Book Review: “Love Wins” by Rob Bell

April 12, 2011

I’ve just finished Rob Bell’s book, “Love Wins”. I personally think that it’s really good.  He asks a lot of sincere questions and then trys in some ways to provide sensible but loving answers that are not written in stone.  His answers are really opened ended questions that says “I don’t know that I have the answers but I know what I don’t believe.”

He doesn’t believe in the traditional hell although he says that hell can be right here on earth. He doesn’t appear to believe in an eternal hell.  He also appears to believe in eventual salvation for all people for all time. I’m paraphrasing his beliefs(concepts) because he did not really say it so pointedly in the book. I think that is  because he is smart enough and wise enough to let YOU, his intelligent audience draw their own conclusions.  He trusts you to hear what you can hear. Sounds a lot like Teacher(though Rob would be the first to say “I’m just a man”).  It’s difficult and courageous to bring up such urgent and controversial questions. He has some other opinions also that challenge us to think or rethink our prior positions of God, Love, Heaven & Hell.

Apparently there is a need for this open-ended discussion and inquiry.  He has a huge audience and a huge following.  While he disowns some prior beliefs and out dated ideas he also makes it clear that living a loving, productive, and ethical life are very important. He doesn’t pander to his audience and he will say things he feels are true whether it’s believed by them or not.  While he is suffering criticism for these ideas of Hell and Eternal Salvation it appears that again the central Message of Love is being missed by many. He’s forging a path that’s meaningful for him and in so doing trying to share that with others. What more could we ask of a good Child of God?

A very good book!!! 9 stars out of 10, *********

ISBN-10: 006204964X

Other sources:

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Wins-About-Heaven-Person/dp/006204964X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1302619349&sr=1-1

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/01/what-is-a-heretic-exactly-in-the-evangelical-church/

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/us/05bell.html?_r=1

http://abcnews.go.com/US/controversial-book-debunk-concept-hell/story?id=13070964&page=2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vg-qgmJ7nzA

Spiritual Book Review: The Little Red Book

April 1, 2011

Often the truth isn’t where we think it should be.  By accident I found a copy of  “The Little Red Book” that has a truth one might never expect to find.  It wasn’t written  by theologians.  Nor was it transcribed by Spanish Monks. Tibetan wise men were not counseled for their views.  Actually the book is the result of two people who struggled with temptations, fear and frustration their whole lives.  These precepts are the life lessons of Bill W. and Doctor Bob, originators of the AA program. The Little Red Book(ISBN number 978-0-89486-985-3 ) is the handheld companion book for the Big Book from Alcoholics Anonymous(AA).  I’m not a member of AA so my finding this book is quite remarkable. I was slightly acquainted with it though because I have acquaintances and friends that are members of AA. I actually found this in the bookstore, picked it up, and immediately recognized it.  As I read the 12 Step Program from the book I thought “what a perfect spiritual outlook.” In the subtext is my spiritual reinterpretation of the 12 Steps that can be used by the rest of us. My apologies to any that I may offend by showing this in a different light, the rest of humanity can really learn from these examples and from the people who have followed them:

 Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable. 

Sub: We admitted that we were powerless over our lives – that our lives are separated from one another and God.

Step Two:Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to Sanity.

Sub: Came to believe that a Power(God) greater than ourselves could restore us to Sanity(Wholeness).

Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

Sub: Same

Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Sub: Same

Step Five: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Sub: Same, a Spiritual Confession

Step Six: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Sub: Same

Step Seven: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Sub: Same

Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

Sub: Same

Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Sub: Same

Step Ten: Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong (and)  promptly admitted it.

Sub: Same

Step Eleven: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Sub: Same

Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Sub: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other people, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Our eternal thanks to Bill W. and Doctor Bob

One day at a time
       – Bill W.

 

“The Little Red Book”  Ten Stars   **********

  ISBN: 978-0-89486-985-3