Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Book Review: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

So this is a book that I read for therapy, because, just in case you are unaware, I have issues.  When my therapist recommended it I was highly skeptical, but also kind of desperate because it was during a particularly difficult bout of depression.  So I picked it up and then avoided reading it for several months because anything with the word "spirituality" in the title just makes me leery. 

I am not a "spiritual" person.  "Spirituality" to me sounds vague and unspecific and trendy and New Age.  I like theology and liturgy and apologetics.  I am into the Disciplines..  I am not into freeing my mind or releasing the power within.  And when I flipped through and saw the words "inner child", I seriously considered giving up all together.  I want a relationship with Christ, yes, but based on fact and theology and Scripture, not on feelings.  I find feelings highly unreliable.  I was honestly just preparing myself for a watered-down, feelings-oriented, let's-not-make-any-waves Christianity.  The kind that is all "your sins are forgiven" and forgets the "go and sin no more".

I was thrilled when I finally got into this book and learned that my expectations were completely wrong.  Scazzero does focus his book on the forgiveness and hope that is available through Christ (which I admitedly tend to neglect), but he does so on a firm theological basis.  Yes, there is some inner child business that kind of made me twitchy, but his basics were well-founded on Scripture, which is ultimately what I need to see in order to take a Christian book seriously. 

I was fine with the writing, with the exception of the use of buzz words that I found off putting.  It was the typical psycho-babble-esque words like "inner child" and "authentic self" that really annoyed me.  Basically if it's a popular psychology term I've seen the Real Housewives fight over ("You aren't being your authentic self!  Just be real!") I'm turned off.  Scazzero does use those terms somewhat frequently, but the spiritual depth he included with them made me feel a bit better about them.  I was, at least, able to overlook them and didn't spend the majority of the book rolling my eyes and imagining reality tv characters trying to prove a point.  Anyway, I realize I'm kind of missing the point by ranting about something Scazzero avoids.  What I mean to say is that I like the writing fine and had no problems with the way he used Scripture to illustrate his points.

Entertainment Value
I can't really say I was super entertained by this one, although I got a lot out of it.  I definitely think I had some breakthroughs in reading it and learned some things about myself, but, I don't know.  It's a book about feelings.  Feelings are not my favorite thing to explore, which is probably why I need therapy in the first place. 

It's a good book.  If you struggle with giving yourself the same grace you give others, it's a really good book.  Also good if you have a hard time knowing the difference between being loving and obedient to God's command to put others first and being a doormat.  I have a hard time with that one too.  Was it a book I rushed home at night to read?  No.  But I'm glad I read it and I think I had some definite mind-change moments in the process.

Unicorn moment: I actually paid full price for this book from Barnes and Noble.  That happens almost never.


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