Three years after Pastor Pete published his award-winning book "Emotionally Healthy Church"(Zondervan, 2003), we finally have a new book from him. Personally, I believe that this is a great book that will revolutionize the ways churches around the globe approach spirituality. In this book, Pastor Pete tries to provide an antidote to unhealthy emotions and/or unhealthy spirituality by two cures: emotional health and contemplative spirituality. (Chapter Three) These cures, I believe, are helpful even to non-Christians.
Pastor Pete begins the bulk of this book by enumerating the top ten symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality. (Chapter Two) In the seven primary chapters constituting the pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality, he begins by "Know yourself that you may know God"(Chapter Four). This is indeed important because oftentimes we misunderstand God because we do not even understand ourselves well enough. "Going back in order to go forward" is the title for the next chapter, which is also a slogan of the New York City subway system from time to time when it tries to explain the reason and result of rerouting. This is equally true for spiritual maturity because to understand ourselves well, we frequently would have to go back to our (sometimes hurtful) past to find out the reason(s) of our current wound/immaturity in order to find an effective remedy. Chapter Six describes the journey through the wall. This is important because the journey to heaven is full of thorns and never without obstacles. Appreciating the necessity/inevitability of walls and the importance of patiently waiting upon the Lord during the period of walls is a key to mature spirituality. As human life is never consummated without grief and loss, the next chapter teaches us to accept this fact and to enlarge our soul through the grieving process. (See e.g. Ecclesiastes 3:4 and Job)
Chapter Eight is one of my favorite chapters in this book, which describes the rhythms of the Daily Offices and the Sabbath. Daily Office (opus) is the functional equivalent of the quiet time or devotional time with an emphasis in meaning on the "work of God". This is a favorite chapter because personally I have greatly benefited from the observance of the Daily Offices and the Sabbath. Moreover, I believe that observing the Sabbath is a great way to get some quality rest on a weekly basis while observing the daily offices is crucial to rest and center on God on a daily basis. "Love your neighbors as yourself" is one of the central tenets of Christianity (Matthew 22:39). Chapter Nine teaches us some useful techniques to love people well as a mature person, such as the right way to resolve conflicts, reflective listening, the Bill of Rights on mutual respect, checking out assumptions and expectations. In the last chapter, Pastor Pete challenges us to consider developing a personal rule of life by adopting two or three of the following elements at a time, such as scripture, silence and solitude, Daily Office (prayer), study, Sabbath, simplicity, play and recreation, service and mission, care for the physical body, emotional health, family, community (companions for the journey).
I highly recommend this book to any Christian and/or non-Christian who wants to develop mature character and spirituality.