Friday, January 23, 2015

Review: Night of the Confessor

Tomas Halik’s book is subtitled: “Christian Faith in an Age of Uncertainty.”  I believe the word “My” should be inserted at the start of that phrase, for this book speaks largely about Mr. Halik’s faith --- or lack of it.
The sacrament of reconciliation “experience has shaped my perception of the world,” he begins, and his subsequent words bear that out.  He deeply focuses on sin and failure, and dismisses most efforts at faith as frauds.  He thinks that true faith is rare.  Charismatic or other faith movements are mere cults he says.  Faith movies (The Passion) or large faith gatherings? --- frauds to make money; “better to fill the stadiums with crying people for football games.”  He seems to have forgotten that people rarely state their good deeds in his confessional, the miracles and importance of God in their lives, or of the living of the Holy Spirit in their faith communities.  In confession he hears man’s failures, and he thinks there are no successes.  Nor does he ponder much on God’s successes.
Halik states that Jesus’ promise that faith can achieve the impossible excludes miracles or the presence of the Holy Spirit, but rather the “impossible” that Jesus defined is a simple trust --- forgiving and “even loving my neighbor,” or being generous: things that are “crazy in the eyes of the world.”   His idea of faith sounds like a ‘60’s movement, with all its negative views of the world at large --- and all the positive views that WE know the way.  Halik speaks strongly of HIS knowledge of the way things are, and of the ways of God.  He writes of a faith that can do HIS definition of the impossible, but he appears to deny the possibility of God doing the same.
Halik, a clinical psychologist, analyzes God and religion:  “God for me remains hidden in paradoxes.”  He is a pessimist on the future of the Church in Europe.  He speaks of no personal relationship with God, and rejects the possibility of others having one.  He concludes with the statement: “For the era on whose threshold we stand, my guess is that hope will be what is needed most of all.”  And he seems to have so little of it.  How sad for him.  Out of the depths, I cry to Thee O Lord …
Mr. Halik’s subtitle spoke of an age of uncertainty, but I perceive the book is only about Mr. Halik’s uncertainty.  Still, he discusses the paths of our culture which disturb us, but he offers no solutions for the culture, or for us.  For me, this started me thinking and praying on what I can do, and in particular the question: What was I made to do?  Like Mr. Halik, I often perceive that I know the answers and the way things should be done.  But I don’t.  And admitting that is the first step toward humility.  From a certain point of view, you could describe Mr. Halik’s definition of “the impossible” that Jesus promised us as merely living in deep humility, rejecting the priorities of the world and self, seeking to do the will of God while trusting in Him.  But he never used the word humility in his book.  But this book DID get me thinking about that word, and its meaning in my life.    

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