Page 8, 22nd April 1977

22nd April 1977
Page 8
Page 8, 22nd April 1977 — Dialogue, evil and the fruits of contemplation
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Dialogue, evil and the fruits of contemplation

The Study of Religions by Jean Holm (Sheldon Press £1.60) Evil and The God of Love (2nd edition) by John Hick (Macmillan k8.95) Contemplative Intimacy by Herbert Slade (Darton, Longman & Todd £2.95) Raids on the Unspeakable by Thomas Merton (Burns & Oates £1.95) Face to Face with God by Jacques Loew (Darton, Longman & Todd f 1.95)

Nowadays the Christian is called to a life of."dialogue" with other religions. The Study of Religions offers an excellent practical introduction to this art. The section on spelling and pronunciation of such words as jnana and nirvana enables the reader to be erudite overnight.

John Hick is criticised in the final section for denying the uniqueness of Christ in his attempt to solve the problem of plurality of religions. The new edition of his famous book on the problem of evil has been cut so as to include a review of recent scholarship. Hick contrasts the Irenaeuan with the Augustinian view of the origin and meaning of evil.

Augustine teaches that man is responsible for evil through the misuse of his free will. lrenaeus leaches that evil exists so that man may freely ,grow to maturity. Hick follows Ireriaeus and fails to consider the possibility that both insights may be needed Fur a balanced V iew.

Herbert Slade, an Anglican contemplative, is very Irenaeuan. He is inspired by the realisation that the body is made by God and is good. Drawing on Hinduism, mooern writers (Jung. Besse), and the positive and negative forms of the Christian mystical tradition (Dante and St John of the Cross) Slade has written a book which is a must for all contemplatives or would-be contemplatives. However, Augustine might well quibble at his interpretation of "Love and do what you

will". The notion of original sin has been jettisoned. The posthumous collection of articles by Thomas Merton is very uneven, However, 'there arc moments of beauty as in his reflections on an Islamic Sufi text; To belong to Allah Is to see in your own existence And in all that pertains to it Something that is neither yours Nor from yourself, Something you have on loan; To sec your being in His Being, Your subsistence in His. sub sistence, Your strength in Hisstrength: Thus you will recognise in yourself His title to possession of you As Lord, And your own title as servant: Which is Nothingness.

Finally we come to Jacques Loew, who reaches behind the Fathers to the Bible itself. lie meditates on the prayer of Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, Paul, and Mary. He illustrates the elements of Christian prayer, adoration, intercession, boldness and humility, hope, attentiveness and love. The Message of this modest book is deceptively simple — easy to grasp, but difficult to put into practise.

Emma Shackle




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