Top positive review
48 people found this helpful
A brilliant presentation of the hidden Christ in Taoism.
on June 29, 1999
Christ the Eternal Tao is a highly original, beautifully written study of the relationship of the Taoist tradition to the Christian tradition. However, this book is not a foray into the religious relativism of contemporary studies of "comparative religion" typical of academic religious studies programs. Neither is it merely a theological effort (as was common in Church circles a generation ago) to "appreciate" the positive qualities of what used to be called "natural mysticism" while comparing it unfavorably to the "supernatural" mysticism of Christianity.
In fact calling it a "study" probably does not do proper justice to the beauty and originality of this work. It is rather an intuitive and profound meditation on the mystery of the Logos in its Taoist "incarnation". Its originality is such that there is little to compare it with in recent publication history. The closest works to it might be Raimundo Pannikar's The Hidden Christ of Hinduism or Ravi Ravindra's Christ the Yogi: A Hindu Reflection on the Gospel of John, but even in the company of these superb studies, Christ the Eternal Tao stands out as something decidedly different, even unique. For one thing, the author is not only a monk and a theologian, he is also an accomplished poet. Indeed, the first section of the book is itself a Christian commentary in verse on the Tao Te Ching of Lao Tzu. The last time the Christian theological world saw anything like this was perhaps St. Ephrem the Syrian in the 4th Century. Like St. Ephrem the Syrian, perhaps the greatest poet-theologian in the Christian tradition, Monk Damascene shows himself capable of theologizing through poetry. The first section of Christ the Eternal Tao is actually a long poem, composed of enneadic sections in the manner of the Tao Te Ching, This is in fact a meditation in verse on the deep realities of the Christian faith and the astonishing manner in which these are anticipated in the work of Lao Tzu. The commentary which follows stands on its own as a theological study of the Orthodox Christian tradition, especially in its dimension of mystical theology. Highest recommendation.