Book review: The River of Life
Although short, this thought-provoking book packs a powerful punch. As one of the “spiritual but not religious” folk Harmon mentions, I found myself thinking if the priests of my childhood had presented the Bible, God and the Christian faith the way Harmon does, I’d probably still be spending my Sundays on a church pew.
Clearly well researched and presented in the clear style of a friendly chat, THE RIVER OF LIFE is a balanced treatise of the heart as well as of the head, which discusses:
• Heaven & Hell
• The Second Coming
• The Good News
• The Historical Jesus
• Doing Our Part
• But What About Miracles?
• Faith in God
• The River of Life
Each of his theories are presented scrupulously and convincingly in a way that is respectful even when it disagrees with conservative Christian views. Harmon remains firm and strong on his own open-minded interpretations of his faith and “agnostic Christianity”, while not trying to convert or diminish other, more conservative, Christian views or different religious beliefs. He learnt from his grandmother that, “A man convinced against his will is of the same mind still,” [Location 1284] and he does not try to convert anyone away from their own beliefs.
Instead, Harmon uses his deep insights and alternative understanding of the faith of Jesus Christ to offer an interpretation that it would well serve the world to adopt in order to follow in the steps of the master teacher and healer Jesus Christ. Harmon suggests a way of following the teachings of Jesus Christ that make us, as spiritual beings, responsible for bringing the Kingdom of God into the here and now of our lives. “Imagine,” he says, “a world governed by light, life and love.” [Location 1279]. How inspiring to believe that the meaning of our lives can be found in actively emulating the Christ-consciousness, rather than waiting for rewards in an after-life.
There are areas where my experience of faith differs from Harmon’s – the after-life is one area – and, as a vegetarian, I would have liked to have read his thoughts on extending the compassion and love of Christ to all sentient beings, especially animals who are so sorely treated by humans. After all, in Eden did Adam & Eve not live in harmony with all the beasts? Do we not hope that the lion will lay down with the lamb?
Despite these minor divergences, this book left me uplifted and hopeful. When reading it (and re-reading some passages more than once) I didn’t need to imagine the world of light and love he speaks of. I felt that light and love in the living pages of this book that so sincerely reflects one man’s deep faith, and his determination to follow in the footsteps of Christ make the grace of God manifest in his life.
The hymn, Amazing Grace, is a favourite of mine, especially the words “I once was blind, but now I see.” As human beings, carrying immense divine potential within our souls, I think we’re closest to the Divine Source, to that same light of God that Jesus himself believed in, when we’re questioning our faith (whatever faith that may be) rather than blindly accepting it. If THE RIVER OF LIFE is evidence, then Harmon is very close to his God indeed.
Any spiritual seeker, whatever their search for faith in God begins, will find THE RIVER OF LIFE fascinating reading.
I recommend this book so highly, I’ve bought a second (print) copy as a gift for my husband who has a strong interest in comparative religions.
Energion Publications, © 2014, 94 pages