William Cleary, Author, Diarmuid O'Murchu, Afterword by . SkyLight Paths $21.99 (182p) ISBN 978-1-59473-006-1

Cleary, a former Jesuit priest, offers a prayer-book and catechism of sorts, rooted in process theology and the evolutionary mysticism of Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Chardin's poetic and scientific artistry, however, is sadly lacking in this volume of lyrically flat-footed prayers interspersed with pedantic metaphysical commentary. Cleary struggles to articulate a role for verbal prayer in post-traditional spirituality: "you know in advance that talking to God is like talking to your dog"—perhaps not pointless, but not essentially concerned with what is being said. Accordingly the book's prayers tend to equivocate between disclaiming God's personal involvement in the world ("You really have no divine face that smiles on us, no hands that distribute blessings or hold us safe") and recognizing it ("We bless you for your caringness through all the eons of evolutionary unfolding"). Evolution is, as expected, a dominant theme for many of the prayers. But Cleary's concept of evolution is hard to untangle, especially when the possibility of divine guidance makes evolution almost like creation, albeit without the accountability that a traditional Creator bears towards creation: "Holy Mystery, our relational spirit-creator, allow us to feel nonplussed by your evolutionary strategies." Reflections like these put humanity in its place, but confronted with such profound ambiguities about who is being addressed in prayer and what its relationship to us might be, meditation or silent contemplation probably come more easily than verbal or written prayers. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/10/2004
Release date: 04/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-59473-420-5
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-1-68336-551-8
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