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Friday, January 10, 2014

"No Problem" (Robert J. Wicks)

TITLE: No Problem: Turning the Next Corner in Your Spiritual Life
AUTHOR: Robert J. Wicks
PUBLISHER: Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2014, (128 pages).

We have all heard about going to workshops at conferences, meetings, and external gatherings. What about having an inner workshop? How do we go about creating one in the first place? What is the purpose of such a workshop? These questions are dealt with thoughtfully, meaningfully, and prayerfully through meditation and contemplation of the divine.

A) Twenty Ways to Begin Inner Transformation

There are lots of creative ideas about grooming the inner person. There is the part about prayer, that prayer is not something merely said. It can be lived out. For prayer moves one from knowing to convicting; from convicting to exercising that conviction in faith. For when prayer and theology come alive, there is richness in spirituality and fullness in living. We are also reminded that transformation is not just inner but outer too. Otherwise, we are tempted toward a Do-It-Yourself spirituality to the detriment of an openness to God and to others. We learn too about simplicity not just de-cluttering our stuff, but training our eyes to see what is essential and what is frivolous. We learn about wonder in worship in contrast to the method driven, solutions focused world of many other religious practices. We are also taught about putting less emphasis on trying to find a middle way between the pros and cons, but to consider the way that does not drowns out God's voice. Another powerful reminder is gratefulness so that we do not fall into spiritual Alzheimer's.  On and on, we learn of so many different gems that most readers will be poised to find a few that will hit home. For me, I am intrigued by the "wisdom of spiritual sadness," which forces us to acknowledge there are many things in this world without an immediate fix, without a need to blame anyone, or to feel guilty about. Life just happens. There is also a short take on spirituality and psychology where Wicks says that "Psychology has often focused almost solely on the negative aspects of personality." Indeed, science is often good at breaking things down. What about putting them back altogether? These and many more can bring about a special spiritual transformation for anyone desiring to enter into spiritual formation.

B) So What?

After dealing with 20 ways to cultivate an inner workshop of personal devotion and spirituality, we are reminded once again that "Christianity is a community religion." All of these exercises, practices, or disciplines, are not to become an end in themselves as if one is singing out with God, "It's you and me against the world!" No. In fact, we need each other in order to be the best versions of each other to each other. Using the Parable of the Good Samaritan as a launch pad for loving our neighbours, Wicks invites readers to explore the question of what we need to do to inherit eternal life, and the three doorways to answer that question: Being present to self; to others; and to God. All of these doorways are actually not three but one focus: Everything for the sake of upholding God's glory.This is put into practice through 30 days of developing one's inner workshop of virtue. For each day, readers are urged to put into practice the various ways of spiritual growth and to respond to God's love. The instructions are brief, but the responses can be endless. The brevity of simple questions and answers is helpful as it gives room for readers or respondents to practice meditation and prayer.

Wicks is a wise guide and this book will be an excellent guide for those of us who want to embark upon the journey of inner transformation with outer application.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Sorin Books, Ave Maria Press, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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