Review: Rants to Revelations by Ogun R. Holder

January 12, 2013 in Books · 0 comments

Rants to Revelations

Rants to Revelations: Unabashedly Honest Reflections on Life, Spirituality and the Meaning of God by Ogun Holder is true to its title. Holden’s book adds to the already crowded blog-to-book genre by collecting and expanding upon his online writing — exploring spiritual insights, struggles of faith, the trials of parenting and the challenges of relationships.

Holden’s writing is competent, if not breathtaking — he has clear voice that carries his ideas well. His musing sometimes lean towards vague, feel-good spirituality, but he never strays too far from actual experience, so the brief essays generally remain grounded in the events of his life and never drift too far into esoteric musings.

The brief chapters are sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant and sometimes troubling. The occasional endnote lent on odd feel to the book; such conventions seem more suited to an academic work rather than personal reflections — if necessary, I think they would have functioned better as footnotes. For me, the real treat of this book were the opening chapter illustrations by the Naked Pastor — a.k.a David Hayward. His pseudo-naive drawings always bring a smile.

Holder is a Unity minister (and a new one at that!) and Unity is the thread that ties this book together. In some ways this book functions as working apologetic for Unity: Holder’s faith is a lived one. And it is clearly a thoughtful, struggling, real faith.

But it was this foundation of Unity that I found troubling. I’m not going to even try and provide a full-scale critique of Unity here, but suffice it to say that I do not think that “all people are inherently good,” that “we are perfect at our core” and that it is our job to manifest that perfection in the world around us. Unity’s pseudo-spirituality and new age philosophy simply fall flat for me. Maybe I just haven’t yet self-actualized my inner Divine nature, but I’m not ready to take “the positive path for spiritual living” quite yet.

Do I recommend this book? With reservations. If you want to find out more about Unity from a personal perspective and see how someone of that faith struggles with questions of faith and meaning and life, then I can’t think of a better place to start. If you’re looking for a robust philosophical or theological treatise, then book of brief spiritual reflections obviously isn’t going to cut it. And if you’re uncomfortable with straying outside the bounds of Christian orthodoxy (or straying into the realm of “positive spirituality”) then you’ll want to look elsewhere. But Holder is up-front about what he believes and honest in his treatment of life’s questions — and whether one agrees with him or not, his engagement with these issues merits respect.

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