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Out of the Depths: Sermons and Essays Paperback – August 1, 2016
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Kovacs has drawn out of the depths in writings that are grounded in thorough biblical knowledge and Reformed theology and illuminated by the breadth of his intellectual curiosity and, in particular, his study of Jungian psychology. Kovacs points out that C. G. Jung's unique spiritual perspective on the human journey as a psychiatrist raised in the Reformed tradition enabled him to shed light on the struggles and failures of the contemporary Protestant Church and create imaginative symbols in the often-arid Calvinist domain. Yet what truly makes Kovacs' sermons stand above the rest is how every time he reaches down into the riches of Scripture, searching for its original contextual meaning to explain such challenges as predestination, Revelation or Job, he articulates his exegetical discoveries and makes historical and literary connections with well-informed passion. Without arrogance or superficiality, but with honest vulnerability, Kovacs plumbs his own life of faith as well. -Susan White, Faith in Books: Essential Reading for Spiritual Vitality
Kenneth Kovacs is a seasoned pastor and a theologian who writes like a poet. What he offers in this collection of sermons and essays is prophetic, in the finest sense of that word. Since his days studying with practical theologian James Loder, Kovacs has dared to explore the importance of authentic experience in the Christian life. He has done this while understanding the suspicion of human experience prevalent in the Reformed tradition. That exploration brought him to engage in profound readings of scripture, theology and the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung. Few pastors, if any, have engaged in this dialogue with Jung as skillfully as Kovacs who retains his loyalty to the Reformed theological tradition. Remarkably he brings this insight to his sermons preached for his own suburban Maryland congregation. In an essay that interprets Jung as trying to reform the Church, Kovacs asks "What if the Church saw itself in service to the sacred and viewed itself as the conduit, the means, and the place where a connection with the Holy might actually occur, a community that helps individuals live into the transformation that inevitably occurs when one encounters the Holy?" Indeed, what if this happened? Kovacs, following this conviction, invites his readers to consider actual experience with the Holy in full view of the risks this means for the institutions that insist on being scared containers rather than containers of the sacred. "People are moving away from the Church because very often (not always, but often) it fails to speak to the deep, human desire to connect with the Holy, to something numinous." This is obvious for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see. I am grateful for Kovacs showing insiders and outsiders a way toward an experience with the Holy. -Roy Howard, Book Editor, The Presbyterian Outlook
As a fellow pastor, I've read my share of sermons. I found that Kovacs' sermons offer a different perspective on several Biblical passages that open up new meaning to a text. With a Jungian background, Kovacs uses his new findings to encourage the reader to enter into a deeper dialogue with himself or herself. The purpose is to grow and mature as a person and also in his or her walk with God.
About the Author
Kenneth E. Kovacs, Ph.D., is pastor of the Catonsville Presbyterian Church, Catonsville, Maryland, and has served congregations in St. Andrews, Scotland, and Mendham, New Jersey. Kenneth studied at Rutgers College, Yale Divinity School, Princeton Theological Seminary, and received his Ph.D. in theology from the University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland. The author of The Relational Theology of James E. Loder: Encounter & Conviction (New York: Peter Lang, 2011), his current research areas include C. G. Jung and contemporary Christian experience. Kenneth is also an avid traveler and has led pilgrimages/tours to Scotland, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Switzerland and France.
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Out of the Depths is a compilation of twenty-six of Kovacs’ homilies. They each average a half a dozen pages and cover dreams, love, humility, surrender, suffering, silence, reconciliation, and more. The underlying theme of all of these topics is the need for an individual to have a personal experience, one that connects with their innermost self, a person’s core identity, not just an intellectual understanding of doctrine and dogma. While Kovacs is from the Reformed tradition, an ordained Presbyterian pastor, his perceptions are universal and thus recommended for those from any practice - Catholic, Protestant, other, and none. These compositions are easily aligned with the liturgical calendar and recommended to supplement individual or group study and reflection.
Review also published at windlullaby.com
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, accessed at gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2003-title16-vol1/content-detail.html
I think the best of this collection is his sermon, "Finding Your Way Home" (pages 82-87). There, Kovacs is able to give a fresh retelling of the parable of the prodigal that brings the story into every Christian's spiritual journey. It's beautiful and really shouldn't be missed.
I received a free copy of this book as part of the Speakeasy Blogger Review program in exchange for my honest review here.