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Eastern Philosophy meets the Social Catholic
on January 7, 2010
Title 2: Quasi-Christian mystical mindfulness
Title 3: Living as a Zen-Catholic or Zen-Christian
This is a smoothly-written, at times interesting and helpful little book that purports to deal with prayer or "prayerfulness." There are constant anecdotes, and the prose follows an organized path, but the content--at least to me--is vague. To a degree like that college text book that you wished would come out and say what it means, but instead "beats around the bush.".
But as far as I can pin it down-and that is not easy task since there aren't a lot of definitions of key terms-prayerfulness includes mainly mystical meditation, interacting with other people (being social)and things, and being aware of God in some way.
The book claims to be Christian (for example, page 197), but it is only partially biblical at best. It is more a rehash of Zen-Christianity. The title "Prayerfulness" is an obvious rewording of the "mindfulness" of the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (see his "The Miracle of Mindfulness" and Peace is Every Step," for example). I think I noticed Jesus mentioned very few times in 175 pages, and there are a few quotes from Scripture. There are quotes from Catholic writers and stories about Catholics.
What is spirituality to this author? I would think it is just about anything that involves living. I beg to disagree. It's more that being meditative or mystical or thoughtful or even kind to our fellow beings. It certainly involves being aware of God's presence and praying, but it also involves truth, biblical truth. Jesus: "true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth" (John 4:23).
What is prayerfulness to this author? Well, fortunately we get close to a definition on page 107: "prayerfulness (what some people call mindfulness or awareness)." Note the implied direct link to Thich Nhat Hanh's work.
In conclusion, if you are looking for some stories and meditations in the context of a rather broad definition of prayer, with guidelines that are often not biblical in source, try this book. But if you are hoping to learn more about Christian prayer, look elsewhere.