3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
I was raised Catholic and went to church every Sunday until my late teens. I went to Catholic grade school and Catholic high school. Despite all of this, I'm always amazed at just how little I actually know about the Bible. This was made especially clear as I read Robert L. Canfield's Walking Blind: And Other Essays on Biblical Texts. The book is made up of 14 essays, and while the book's table of contents counts over 170 pages the Amazon page says it's just under 130. Either way, that's an average of less than 15 pages per essay, yet each is full of unique insights and terrific information.
While Robert covers a wide array of topics, they all have a few things in common - they all use examples straight out of the Bible, they're all written in a way that anyone can follow along with and they all provide some rather fascinating insights into Christianity. Robert says he wrote the book to show that the Bible "can be relevant to anyone trying to live productively and justly in the conflicted and often ambiguous settings of the contemporary world", which really sums up perhaps the greatest challenge Christians face today.
Although it's the ninth essay, the titular essay - "Walking Blind: A Promise to the Dismayed" - is one of my favorites. In it, Robert explores (among others) Isaiah 42:16: "I will lead the blind by a way they know not; I will lead them in paths they have not known; I will make the darkness light to them, and crooked places straight...". I found it very interesting that Robert connects this with all sorts of situations, and that it means one who has true faith in God will always be confident that He will lead them where they need to go. This was even true of the author as he was drafted into the military (before Vietnam). Most folks weren't too excited about being drafted, and Robert was no exception, but he says "those two years were among the most significant in my life" and he even met his wife because of it!
Another absolutely excellent essay is "Biblical Advice on Non-Religious Living". At first I thought this was meant for people like me: people who believe in God and consider themselves Christian but don't actually go to church. However, what I read really blew me away - Robert points out that the New Testament doesn't actually give Christians any sort of rules for being a "practicing" Christian. In fact, Jesus and various parts often speak against ritualistic religion! "[T]he obligation of Christians is to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind and to love their neighbors as themselves." This, therefore, is much more challenging than religions where one need only satisfy certain duties - anyone can say certain prayers at certain times or go to church, but to constantly be on the lookout for ways to love your neighbors is a challenge! Like the story of the good Samaritan, loving your neighbor is rarely something we can plan for, which makes it even more difficult.
While I enjoyed all of the essays overall, other essays explore "heathens" ("those who have never heard" of Jesus), mob mentality and the story of the adulterer woman about whom Jesus said "let him who is without sin cast the first stone", proving the resurrection of Jesus happened, the importance of the disciples and how science and faith aren't separate things - "The heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows His handiwork".
Although the average essay was rather short, they did tend to diverge from the central topic a bit sometimes. Also, while I found almost no grammatical errors at all, there were quite a few odd formatting errors - some paragraphs weren't indented the same as others, sometimes a paragraph is single spaced (or less) when they're normally 1.5 spaced. These genuinely were my only issues, and while I would love to give this book 3.5 stars if I could, the formatting issues force me to give it 3 out of 4 stars. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in new insights about the Bible or those looking to learn about Christianity.
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon
Like CataclysmicKnight's review? Post a comment saying so!