Monday, May 9, 2011

Trusting God for Everything: Psalm 23 by Jan Johnson

A Personal Retreat Guide Trusting God for Everything: Psalm 23 by Jan Johnson ia a small 99 page book in a series of books specifically written to be used for guiding one's own personal retreat. The reader should know this is not a ordinary book, nor is it part of the devotional genre. 

As a meditative tool for retreats, there is a lot of repetition and repetitious material built in the book. For example, the seven ideas listed under the "in Between Sessions" are repeated word for word in each chapter somewhat like a brainwashing technique.  Some of the suggestions appear quite trivial and worldy in fact.  The book  suggests that the reader "may wish to sit in a Jacuzzi", excercise or take along some "light reading" such as a magazine.  She suggests leaving home the "detective novel  {which} will engage you wholly".  While these activities in of themselves are not wrong to do, they are far from spiritual activities and are more self serving than anything.  They are also suggestive of a wordly financial prosperous lifestyle which many in this world do not have the luxury to enjoy.
 A paraphrased prayer by the Roman Catholic Mystic, Therese of Lisiux, is repeated in each chapter as well.  Firstly, I question the reason for the choice of a prayer by an individual revered and honored by Roman Catholics as a Saint and Patron of Catholic missions. During her short yet noble lifetime she was  known as a Carmelite nun.  After her death she was beatified and cannonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Pope John Paul 11. While there is nothing inherantly wrong with the choice of this prayer, the source is questionable as Saint Therese of Lisieux was known to be an advocate of  Catholic traditions such as transubstantiation of the eucharist as well as the doctrine of Many as being the sinless mother of God, and Mediatrix of heavan capable of assuming a role of intercession for prayer.  In fact, countless sincere Roman Catholics actually believe that as a Saint, Saint Therese of Lisieux can intercede for prayers and perform miracles. I assume Jan Johnson is not advocating the cult of saint worship by inclusion of this prayer, nevertheless, I believe that in the spirit of the ecumenical movement to find unity between religions, the inclusion of this prayer serves only to grant credibility to such unscriptural traditions and supersticions of prayer worship.
Overall the idea behind a meditative study of Psalm 23 is a worthwhile pursuit.  Nevertheless, Jan Johnson's approach, I find, caters too much towards the materialistic culture of today's society as well as the ecumenical movement which comprimises truth or glosses over scriptural truths for the sake of unity and conformity. As a blogger for Navpress publishers I recieved a copy of this book for the purposes of writing this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

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