Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review of Ciszek's "He Leadeth Me"

He Leadeth MeHe Leadeth Me by Walter J. Ciszek
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book had its inspirational moments, and is well worth a read.  But as a narrative, story-telling experience, it was average and suffered some from lack of context, detail, and creativity.  There was also a lot of repetition.  I had no issues with the theology. It was simple, but powerful and thought-provoking.  But as read, it was more tedious than gripping, which is a shame, because there was so much potential for its being a gripping read.  I mean, how often can you get a first hand account of spending time in Soviet prisons and labor camps during some of the worst moments of the Stalinist regime?  And it just did not meet expectations in this regard.  I also found the structure a bit predictable.  Each chapter (titled by a particular concept) started with a short personal anecdote of an experience the author had, and then ended with a didactic bit of preaching about the concept.  The anecdotes were better than the didactic preaching.  But often times the preaching fell flat because there were so many contextual gaps that raised more questions about the how and why he arrived at the revelations of the concept he was preaching.  All that said, I did come away from the book with a more reflective understanding of the Catholic Christian faith and my experience as one of its adherents and practitioners.  Let me end this brief review, though, with one thing that really bothers me about this kind of book.  (Not just this particular book per se, but all those -- including this one -- that fall into this genre.)  These books give the impression that there is something special in an understanding of faith because of his particular experience of suffering and oppression.  That such kinds of experiences provide an insight to faith that one can only get from being so oppressed and abused.  The rest of us have been taught to view such accounts with deference and awe.  But I think there are people who live what we might call "normal" lives in relatively free and open political systems who can arrive at the same revelations from their own particular experiences.  One does not need to be imprisoned by the communists, tortured, starved, harassed, and abused, to have special insight or connection to God.

View all my reviews

No comments: