Provider: Spiritual Steps to Limitless Love
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border=”0″ height=”1″ width=”1″> by Fr. Edward
Beck and here was another book I was not to enthused to review.
When you have a book cover with positive reviews by
the Dalai Lama and reviews for his previous books by Anne Lamott,
Andrew Greeley, Diane Sawyer, L.A. Times etc. you would
certainly have a tendency to judge a book by it’s cover reviews.
Add to that that the book also quotes from Hindu, Islam, and
other sources and throws in global warming a couple of times it would
certainly seem that I might rather have my fingernails torn out then to
Maybe since it was Lent I read it anyway
and I do try to review books sent to me even though it gives me no
pleasure to write a negative review when I have to. To my surprise
thought I pretty much did enjoy this book. The book is a
chapter by chapter following of The Ladder of Divine Ascent by Saint
John Climacus. In the original work there are thirty steps
along the spiritual path and the book follows this steps with thirty
Fr. Beck builds on the steps of St. John
Climacus by trying these explain these steps in more modern terms.
For the most part he succeeds. He tells a wealth of
stories from his own life and dealings with others to help the audience
see these steps and why following them are important to the spiritual
life. My positive reaction to this book is mainly because I judge that
this book was written for a larger audience and not specifically for
Catholics. If the book was specifically written for Catholics
then it is not very good since it almost totally lacks the framework of
the sacraments so necessary to advance in the spiritual life.
As I suspect that this is a more generic book on the topic of
spirituality mostly rooted in a Christian context I have less problems
As I mentioned there are example used from
other religious traditions, but the large majority of references are to
scripture. I did not get the feeling of syncretism in the use
of these other sources and that what was quoted was applicable to the
topic at hand. Fr. Beck is a capable writer and he keeps you interested
in the topics at hand and has some good insights along the road.
I certainly got the idea that he was firmly in the
progressive camp when it comes to the Church, but it was not overt and
for the most part did not distract from the steps from The Ladder of
Divine Ascent. But mostly I had to remember what the audience
was for the book for it not to annoy me at times. For people
with very modernist ideas who are starting to take God and the
spiritual life seriously there is a lot of good in this books.
Fr. Beck has had a wealth of dealings I suspect with this
audience and thus he examples will be quite useful for them.
One chapter I found that fell short of the
rest of the book was the one on lust. This though was not exactly
surprising since it is the telltale sign of the progressive side that
when it comes to sexual morality that they just don’t fully understand
why it is sinful. He wants to take a “fresh look” and asks
“would any of us be around without lust?” This question
perfectly shows his error of understanding and even thought he quotes
the Catechism on lust as a “disordered desire” he doesn’t seem to
understand that sexual desire within marriage does not have to be
disordered. I think it is a rather sad worldview to believe that there
has to be lust within the covenant of marriage. As if lust is
a necessary evil. There are also a couple of mentions of
homosexuality that while not condoning it certainly contain no caveats
and in another chapter the “Course of Miracles” is mentioned without
providing any caveats of this new age nonsense. I found it
rather interesting that in the chapter on lust he was totally able to
sink his teeth into denouncing avarice and was able to wax long on this
So while this book is not the sort of book
I would recommend to the audience of my blog I can see that this book
could be quite useful for some.