Rich in detail, down to earth in style, and thought-provoking

January 9, 2009 – 3:19 pm

christ-wisdom-copyChrist Wisdom
Spiritual Practice in the Beatitudes and the Lord’s Prayer
Christopher Page
ISBN 978-1-55126-420-2
soft cover, 140 pages, soft cover, $18.95

Review from Montreal Anglican

Christ Wisdom is designed as a handbook. Written in accessible language, the work presents the two passages in sections for the purpose of analysis. Each unit is followed by two questions that encourage readers to apply the biblical texts to their own lives and an exercise to promote further insights. Page attests to the significance of his chosen texts—“The Beatitudes set out for us the attitudes and practices of the Christian life. The Lord’s Prayer builds upon those principles and guides us in living in communion with God” [page 11].

The commentaries are an admixture of traditional teaching and creative thinking. Page uses words well in developing his points. For example, in the section on “blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3), he comments, “Christianity is not a self-help program; it is a self-surrender program. The stronger, more powerful, more talented, and more in control we are, the more difficult it is for us to surrender. The more we have to let go of, the more difficult it is to let go” [pages 20–21.] He adds, “For Matthew the proverb Jesus speaks about is a spiritual condition, not a function of socio-economic status” [page 20]. Poverty is a step on the path to God. “Jesus is not calling us to get stuck in our poverty or to make a new identity out of it. The gift of our poverty is to move beyond poverty into a new spiritual realm in which we find that God alone can satisfy our lives” [page 22].

At the end of the cogent section on blessed are the peacemakers,” Page asks the reader: “(1) What are the most common peacemaking strategies that the world uses? How have these worked in bringing about lasting and secure peace? What might be the problem with these strategies?; (2) Where might a different version of peacemaking begin? What might a different vision of peacemaking look like? What might we do to contribute to bringing about a new vision of peacemaking?” [pages 57–58]. These typify the kinds of question used to stimulate further thought.

In “two wills or one,” the commentary on “Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10) stresses the teaching that humankind has two wills. “This is the fundamental human dilemma. We are divided people, often facing in two different directions at the same time” [page 93]. The exercise at the end counsels, “Pay attention to those moments when you become conscious that a conflict of two wills is present. Notice what will is coming from the smaller self-will of the ego and which will seems to come from a larger more open place. Try to let go of that smaller will and embrace the larger will” [page 97].

These single examples of analysis, questions, and exercises provide a taste of the book. Christ Wisdom is rich in detail, down to earth in style, and thought-provoking. The material is ideally suited to be utilized as a study guide for a workshop, a series of sermons on either or both of the scriptural texts, or simply an opportunity to turn prose into praxis.