COMING HOME TO YOUR TRUE SELF: Leaving the Emptiness of False Attractions
Christian Life/Spiritual Growth
Albert Haase, a former missionary to mainland China, began giving a lecture series on prayer and the spiritual life starting in the late 1980s. He soon realized that many of his workshop participants did not fully understand or appreciate "...the images and language that were often bound to a different time, place, culture and theology." Others felt that these mystic teachings were out of place for contemporary believers to utilize and were more fitting for those "behind monastery walls." So in 2004, Haase, now back in the United States, was intent on making these Christian spiritual traditions palatable and accessible to today's believer.
Thus, Haase's text premise taken from a quote by Meister Eckhart, a Dominican mystic from the 14th century, which sums up Luke 15:11-32 beautifully, is the base upon which this book is laid. "God is at home. It is we who have gone out for a walk." As Haase writes, the spiritual journey is a return home and Christians must continually choose between the false and true selves. Home is the sacrament of the present moment. He purports so succinctly, "...It is only in living right now, right here, that we discover our lives and this world awash in the grace of God."
Haase very skillfully and with great reader friendliness offers today's Christ followers a lovely, gently presented compilation of ancient spiritual traditions written in contemporary style. Christians will discover new depths to worn-out catchphrases and gain deeper understanding on often-tired religious topics. Beginning with excellent definitions of the terms "the true self" and "the false self" depicted in journey form, believers will more fully grasp the difference between walking toward home sweet home and trekking far from its safe haven in search of the empty "Ps" of the false self.
The empty Ps are pleasure, praise, power, prestige, position, popularity, people, productivity, possessions and perfection. The author notes that many individuals have been seduced into following someone else's agenda and that someone else is the false self. What follows is a "reckless escapade" campaign bent on discovering personal fulfillment. Once on this self-fulfilling trek of embracing the false self, people then develop their own tailor-made avoidance agenda that helps them cope with the pain, blame, criticism, disgrace and loss. For this agenda tells its followers that pain and the like must be avoided at all costs.
As dreary as this scenario appears, Haase then presents the case for the spiritual disciplines and how they offer true spiritual freedom and life markers to keep believers on the path to experiencing the true self life that Christ desires for them. Readers will be treated to in-depth discussions on graced guilt: how our sin can bring us home; present to the presence: how prayer makes us prayerful; penance; preserving relationships; discernment; becoming a dream keeper; the spiritual director: a companion on the journey home; and continuing home: the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. Haase also includes well-developed appendices that include suggestions for designing a rule of life, finding a spiritual director and charts/lists from the chapters.
Extremely practical and inspirational, readers from all walks and stages in the spiritual walk will find this material refreshing and instructional.
--- Reviewed by Michele Howe
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