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First Sight: The Experience of Faith – Laurence Freeman

ISBN 9781 4411 6157 4

Continuum, London, 2011, £10.99

“First Sight” has been called the ‘sequel’ to Fr Laurence Freeman’s earlier book, “Jesus: The Teacher Within”, and the style and content of the two books are certainly closely connected.  In both, Freeman’s theology could most simply be called ‘contemplative’ and practice-based; his choice of sources normally tends towards the Church Mothers and Fathers; and his views on society owe much to the thought of Charles Taylor, the Canadian philosopher.

As the title suggests, “First Sight” is about faith.  Freeman focuses on topics such as Lifestyle, Illumination, and Union, and links them with what it might mean to live as a person of faith.  There is at all times an impressive momentum and vision about Freeman’s writings, and this book is no exception to the rule.  There is also an abiding sense of story in this new book: the story of the stages of our faith; the story of Freeman’s life, from his childhood to his current role as Director of the World Community for Christian Meditation; and also the story told to the reader by the book as a whole, which has something therapeutic, or formative, about it.  I came away feeling as though my eyes had been opened a little bit.

Freeman is more of a well-digger than a system-builder.  He looks deeply into issues in diverse areas rather than trying to build up a coherent theological whole.  It is consequently with fresh springs of insight that the reader of First Sight is rewarded.  The surprising number of typographical errors and some complex trains of thought are small hindrance to 144 pages of nourishing spiritual drink.

Philip Seal,

Bristol