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					Christian Spirituality, the Practice of the Presence of God - A Book
Critique
INTRODUCTION
Generally, the text is a compendium of the spiritual insights of Bro.
Lawrence (whose worldly name was Nicholas Herman) into the heart of God
through three areas: letters, conversation and his personal life. One
sees in him the determination to be an experiment of living every moment
in the presence of God. The co-author, his friend and Abbot, Joseph de
Beaufort, greatly helps the reader to see the importance of prayer in the
life of Bro. Lawrence.
STRENGTHS
Bro. Lawrence should be commended for leaving behind one of the classic
memoirs of the devotional life inspite of the fact that he never received
any formal education, a testimony of what can be achieved when one is
radically abandoned to God.
Another major strength of the book is that Bro. Lawrence taught what he
lived and vice versa. He simply confessed his sins to God without making
excuses. He clearly shows that he has a general understanding of prayer
when he observed that "we must try to converse with God in little ways
while we do our work, not memorized prayer"(59).
WEAKNESSES
Stating that Bro. Lawrence developed "the most charitable heart in the
world" (84) is an unqualified statement. It would have been better if
Beaufort had used the phrase ''one of the most'' since it is difficult to
know which parameter is used to arrive at that conclusion especially
since the concept of spirituality is variously defined in different
denominations. Bro. Lawrence''s letters are not dated. Only the last one
gave an indication of the year because of the footnotes (see page 54). A
major problem is created for the cataloguer in a library or even the
general reader to find the name of the co-author. It is a bit unusual and
difficult to identify the name of an author in the preface rather than
the title or cover page. The cover and title pages therefore give the
misleading impression that the work was entirely written by Bro.
Lawrence. The statement on page 83 about the shortest way to attain
Christian perfection (penultimate sentence) is a very controversial one
since an issue in theology is whether or not Christian perfection could
be attained in this life.
QUOTABLE QUOTES
"If the vessel of our soul is still being tossed by winds or storms, we
should wake the Lord Who has been resting with us all along, and He will
swiftly calm the sea" (27).
"There is no sweeter manner of living in the world than continuous
communion with God" (29).
RECOMMENDATIONS
This timeless book is an invaluable publication which must be in the
library and read by every Christian. It is useful in ministry for
everyone who sincerely wants to dwell in the presence of God.
AUTHOR SIGNATURE
Oliver L.T. Harding, who obtained his GCE O & A Levels from the Sierra
Leone Grammar School and the Albert Academy respectively, is currently
Senior & Acting Librarian of Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra
Leone. He is a part time lecturer at the Institute of Library,
Information & Communication Studies (INSLICS), Fourah Bay College and the
Extension Programme at the Evangelical College of Theology (T.E.C.T) at
Hall Street, Brookfields; Vice President of the Sierra Leone Association
of Archivists, Librarians & Information Scientists (SLAALIS); a member of
the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) and an associate of
the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (CILIP).
His certificates, secular and sacred, include: a certificate and diploma
from the Freetown Bible Training Centre; an upper second class B.A. Hons.
Degree in Modern History (F.B.C.); a post-graduate diploma from the
Institute of Library Studies (INSLIBS, F.B.C) a masters degree from the
Institute of Library, Information & Communication Studies (INSLICS,
F.B.C.) and a masters degree in Biblical Studies from West Africa
Theological Seminary, affiliate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka,
where he won the prize for academic excellence as the Best Graduating
Student in 2005. Oliver, a writer, musician and theologian, is married
(to Francess) with two children (Olivia & Francis).
Email: oltharding@yahoo.com
Mobile: 232-2233-460-330

				
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