Saturday, October 11, 2008

Last Sunday my wife and I were visiting with friends after church and P.F. recommended a book that she had been reading. Later that day I tried to look up the book online, but couldn't remember the authors name or the book title for that matter. I sent P.F. an email to ask her about the book and found her summary of the book very compelling. Most of the following is excerpts from our correspondence.

She said, "The name of the book is Addiction & Grace, by Gerald May, MD. Scott Peck called it exquisitely written, and it truly is. The point of the book is that our attachments keep us from loving God and our neighbor. It is these addictions that create other gods for us, and because of our addictions we will always be storing up treasures somewhere other than heaven, and these treasures will kidnap our hearts. The book calls us to basically accept our incompleteness (rather than trying to fill it) and states that we can't personally achieve the state of perfection, that we must state our condition of incompleteness. And that this incompleteness within us does not make us unacceptable in God's eyes. He says that our incompleteness is the empty side of our longing for God and for love. It is what draws us toward God and one another. He says that if we don't fill our minds with guilt and recriminations, we will recognize our incompleteness as a kind of spaciousness into which we can welcome the flow of Grace. He says that we can think of our inadequacies as terrible defects if we want, and hate ourselves. But we can also think of them affirmatively, as doorways through which the power of grace can enter our lives. He covers the characteristics of addiction and how to heal. There are so many deeply profound thoughts in this book, I can't recommend it enough. It is a book of hope! Get it or borrow it!!!"

I commented, that what she was describing so well was the practice of "detachment." And that the teaching of detachment is found in many religious faiths, especially in the Buddhist faith. I remarked, that Scott Peck always did have a Buddhist bent. The first line in his book, The Road Less Traveled is the Buddhist sentiment, “Life is difficult.” Others have called it the "art of letting go." Also, Larry Crabb wrote an excellent book called, The Pressure's Off: There's a New Way to Live.

She said, "I think the one thing that is different between other spiritual tradition's idea of detachment and the one put forth in Dr. May's book is that human effort to detach is futile. We can't do it, no matter how spiritual we try to become! That we need Grace, God's holy intervention, along with our own actions, to succeed at letting go. The problem is that we choose attachments to fill up those spaces where Grace could have come in. My favorite definition of detachment is in Dr. May's book; he says it's "the liberation of desire" or freedom, and through freedom we can come ultimately to love."

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