Healing The Divide: A Book Review
Amos Smith‘s Healing The Divide: Recovering Christianity’s Mystic Roots is a joy to read!
As a lay person who has studied our Christian mystical heritage (my favorites are Meister Eckhart, the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing, and St. John of the Cross) for 40+ years now, I’ve come to almost similar conclusions as the author. The themes that he tackles in his book, like paradox as the key to understanding Jesus, the nondual approach to Christianity, the transformative power of contemplative prayer, compassion and social justice as the fruit of spiritual practice really resonates with me.
Our Christian theology since the Middle Ages has become over-analytical and too rational, leaving no room for paradox and mystery. This has resulted in a Christianity that is too intellectual, legalistic, formal and rigid – and for the most part irrelevant to the contemporary person. What the 21st century man or woman wants is a direct encounter with God. And this is what is meant by Christian mysticism – a direct experience of God through the person of Jesus, which results in personal transformation as well as the transformation of our society.
If I’m not mistaken, this is what the book advocates, based on a theology which sees the person of Jesus through the eyes of the Christian mystics, specifically the Alexandrian mystics. And herein lays the value of the book: it is not just a book only about mysticism but about Christian mysticism, solidly built on a Christology based on what the author refers to as the “Jesus Paradox.”
Like the author, I’m convinced that paradox is the key to understanding the deepest truths in life, and that includes the truth about Jesus. Another author puts it this way:
Paradox is the best form of language for expressing some of the fundamental truths of human existence.
Jesus is not only divine, neither is he only human. He is absolutely divine and relatively human! This is the key to understanding Christian mysticism. And for those who can absorb it– this could be a life-changing experience!
What the book offers us is a fresh approach to Christianity that is not only based on theology (although the book is very theologically sound), but one that is also based on a personal encounter with God – an encounter which leads to personal transformation.