Why am I still trying to publish books, and why am I still studying and thinking about the gospels as if I had to preach again this week. I love the church, my faith is the most important event of my life, but the beliefs that it peddles I find get in the way. We drag behind us 2,000 years of theological baggage. Its time we came clean. I don’t believe the Ascension ever happened. I’ve said it to six men sitting round a table faced by their bibles. Their faces first registered a mix of horror and surprise, then smiles. I asked them if they believed the story of the Ascension of Jesus rising up into the clouds, (Heaven) and disappearing. They sheepishly admitted they did not. We spent the next hour discussing why the story was told and finally understood its genesis. Once we did this we did not need to throw it away. Belief is the enemy of faith, but understanding is its handmaid.
[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “Book of Sam” by Peter D. Snow.]
4 out of 4 stars Wow!
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Book of Sam by Peter D. Snow recounts the conversations that the author had—over time—with his grandnephew about spirituality, the concept of sin, the over-glorification of science over art, faith, and intellectualism, and the depth of truth in popular religious catchphrases.
The author deals with how we get misled in our quest for discovering our own identity. The trend these days is to barter compliments for personal benefit. This certainly brings to mind what happens even at the level of presidential policy today. The author takes you through some everyday instances that help us see for ourselves how hollow this entire exercise is. As the author shares his experiences, we realize that the original divine presence (aka God) sees us out and all we need to do is to turn around and listen. When this realization hits us, it becomes easier for us to get some relief from the weight of peer pressure, our own injured assumptions, and other people’s judgments. What remains then is a stillness…and a sense of peace.
There are many different aspects to this book; it is a journey leading to finding ourselves, of the importance of silence in many situations, and of how shame and guilt heaped on us by others affect us so greatly that it impacts health irreversibly.
Much of the book is centered around the actual meaning of terms such as the soul and the subconscious. I especially enjoyed reading about that special natural event the author experienced one fine morning that helped him take the reins of his life in his own hands (and which he passes on to us as a meditation practice we can all benefit from). This book teaches us to identify the integrity within ourselves and shows us how being a victim betrays the grace that God has offered us.
I particularly enjoyed the way the author has described how he came to the realization that women around the world are NOT sending out messages to the men by dressing up and wearing pretty accessories. I respect him for coming out with that in a book – I’ve not seen anyone deal with that topic so beautifully before this. Through some short excerpts from the Bible, the author discusses throughout the book about how God is not separate from us—his creations.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Even with some heavy themes, everything it touches upon has a positive tone. Initially, I was concerned that it would involve too much preaching and be depressing overall, but that was not the case. Not one bit. I was also worried that I would get lost with terms from the Bible as I am not familiar with the book—mostly due to the fact that I am a non-Christian. However, the author did well to make most of it clear. I do not feel like I missed out on anything important in the book, despite my ignorance of certain mentions of the gospels and related references.
It is impressive how well written this book is. Even though it jumps between a variety of topics, it is easy to keep track of all of the ideas the author is sharing. He manages to make the content flow, giving you enough time to digest each new idea and suggestion. The way the author writes is very open and relatable.
My rating for Book of Sam is 4 out of 4 stars. It is an excellent combination of a memoir and a self-help book. Not only will spiritual enthusiasts love it, but also those who love heart-warming stores and heartfelt suggestions from someone who cares about making a difference. However, if you have a low threshold for self-help books or religious references, this just might not be for you. I personally wouldn’t hesitate to check out the author’s next book and find out what more he wants to share with his readers next.
The poem was originally published in Rough Rhymes of a Padre (one of two volumes of war-time poems issued in 1914-18 under the pseudonym “Woodbine Willie”); then re-published under Studdert Kennedy’s own name in The Sorrows of God and Other Poems in 1921; and again in Rhymes in 1929, a one-volume re-print of the Rough Rhymes series. (Note plural `Sorrows’ in the book title, but singular in the poem.) In The Sorrows of God and Other Poems 1921 it is one of two items described as `Dialect Poems’. This volume is available online HERE. (I notice that some have reworked this poem in various ways so as to remove the Cockney dialect; but I think they have diminished its impact. So what follows is exactly what Studdert-Kennedy wrote.)