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Who is Jesus? A marginal Jew? A Mediterranean Jewish peasant? A liberator and healer? The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity? For Father Freeman, the question of who Jesus is can illuminate our deepest questions of meaning and identity: "The clarity and freedom of our self-knowledge determines how clearly we can see Jesus in the Spirit."In this beautifully written and thoughtful book, Father Freeman shows how Jesus, as "the guru within," can only be seen in the light of self-knowledge— and thus not with mortal eyes but with spiritual vision.
Posted June 25, 2002
This is, without a doubt, the best book on Jesus published in the last ten years. Freeman (a good friend of mine, I must admit) eschews both the extreme skepticism of the Jesus Seminar and the dogmatic rigidity of fundamentalism, finding them both inadequate for the necessary deeper understanding of who Jesus is and his meaning for humanity. He approaches this question by asking, and constantly returning to, Jesus' own question: Who do you say I am? For Freeman, the usual immediate, dogmatic answers should be set aside in favor of deeper reflection on the very nature of the question, which has to do with self-knowledge. Jesus asked his question out of his own self-knowledge; we answer properly when we come to our own self-knowledge, that is, stripped of all illusions about ourselves. If this is already starting to sound a bit eastern, Freeman does bring in many concepts from Hinduism and Buddhism to help the reader understand this process of knowing Jesus and knowing ourselves. Some Christians might find this unnerving or threatening, especially when they find that the Dalai Lama, also a close friend of the author's, wrote the foreword. I myself found it very helpful; I also found the whole work thoroughly Christian, in the deeper, mystical sense. Freeman appeals heavily to Scripture, and to many Christian mystics, ancient, medieval, and modern, to describe the ongoing process of conversion that leads us to self-knowledge and relationship with Jesus. This process begins with the proper reading of the Gospels, as food for the spiritual life, and moves through the life of Jesus and his Kingdom of forgiveness, life in the Church, and life in the Spirit. As spiritual director of the World Community for Christian Meditation, Freeman does describe his own teaching on meditation, which he received from his own teacher, John Main, and which has very ancient roots in the Bible and Christian tradition. But the book is not a meditation manual and the teaching on meditation is given as a way, certainly not the only way, to aid the reader and spiritual seeker in answering Jesus' question and arriving at self-knowledge. In this way Freeman provides a thorough theological and spiritual foundation for the practice of Christian Meditation. Meditation is not an end in itself, and neither is it merely a secular relaxation technique; for Freeman, it is an important Christian discipline, and the highest form of prayer, though one that Christians have frequently neglected. This is also a very personal book. Freeman begins each of the twelve chapters with a story about his return to his ancestral Irish home, on a small island on the Irish coast. These stories, told with blunt honesty, self-deprecating humor, and deep insight into the human condition, show how daily experience among ordinary people lead us to self-knowledge and the ability to answer Jesus' question.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.