3 out of 4 stars
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When you are aware of the existence of God, the solution to all problems, yet for some reason, He seems not to provide a favorable solution to your most pressing need, you can easily get weary and give up on life. Michael Saunders, a retired neurologist who suffers from an unknown neurological disease that has forced him to be a fulltime wheelchair user, dives into a journey of dissecting many aspects of life through his book, From Certainty to Mystery.
The book has twenty chapters. The chapters are in the form of essays in which the author gives a detailed account of his view about different issues of life in general, such as depression, suffering, human weakness, and disability. Saunders used the Postscript, at the end of the book, to give a recap of chapters of the book.
One of the aspects that I appreciated about From Certainty to Mystery is that the author added details of his life experiences, which he put in italics, throughout the book. Such experiences acted as the mirror of the issues that he discussed in the essays. For instance, as a young child, he underwent a surgical procedure on one of his eyes. According to him, that experience taught him that the ‘ask and you shall receive’ Bible-teaching does not always work. Since he has served an Anglican priest, reading such a message from him was quite refreshing because his view of the world is not bound by his Christian faith alone.
I always love reading books by authors who are open to the wisdom that is outside the conventional ways set by religion. Michael Saunders did not disappoint. I loved his wholesome view of humanity and religion. Many Christians, especially evangelists, may find this to be quite offensive especially when he said, “If I was born in Myanmar, I would expect to be Buddhist and would have no need to change my faith. The world contains many cultures and many stages of understanding of the place of religion in daily life.” Although I urge readers from all religions, including non-religion, to read this book, the so-called ‘holier-than-thou’ Christians may be easily offended by the author’s view on some matters of religion.
I liked how Saunders struck a balance between religion and science. Being a medical doctor, a neurologist, and a clergyman must have given him a broader view of the two aspects that always seem to be parallel. I imagined the burden that he must bear every day knowing that there is no cure for his chronic illness, yet he is an expert in the field of neurology. His search for a cure based on his faith and expertise seems endless. I loved what he said by quoting Mother Julian who said, “All will be well and all manner of things shall be well.” About his dedication to saving lives as a medical doctor, Saunders believes that “The only life we know is this life. We should guard the lives of others as something precious.” That is truly amazing.
The OBC rules do not allow me to give a perfect score to a book that has more than ten errors. Most of the errors in this one are typographical and are slightly above ten. Therefore, I give From Certainty to Mystery 3 out of 4 stars. Were it not for the errors, I would have given it a perfect score. The author pours out his mind and heart into themes that affect our daily life. He has referenced many incredible books on the issues that he has discussed in this book.
I am particularly thankful to the author for his boldness to put this book together. He chronicles his journey from a young boy through teenage and into adulthood. I felt sad when he said that sometimes he falls (due to his illness) when no one is around to help and has to pick himself up and continue living. His battle with depression was not easy to read either, but I am glad that he always fights back to his feet. I also loved that he drew wisdom from other religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, to back up his points. I would have never known that there is scientific proof that religious people have less anxiety had I not read this book.
From Certainty to Mystery
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