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Essential Wisdom for the 21st Century

by Hugh Prather

Pub Date: March 2nd, 1998
ISBN: 1-57324-113-X

 Another attempt in the self-help genre to reduce the spiritual life to a few simple precepts and to eliminate from it all deep paradox, doubt, and question. In 1970, Prather, a Methodist minister, wrote a bestselling book of personal reflections, Notes to Myself. Since then, he has published a dozen works of popular religious psychology, including this, his latest, which patterns itself after its predecessor. Short, untitled paragraphs, separated by pairs and triplets of leafy graphics, succeed one another, grouped informally around unannounced themes: marriage, children, parents, time, death, fear, prayer. The central exhortation is to inner peace and a sense of unity with all things. The author might have achieved a humbler, less portentous tone if he had acknowledged the lineage of his ideas, for example, in 19th-century romanticism, which, in some of its expressions, believed along with Prather (and, for that matter, the Wizard of Oz) that everything we need to be we already are, if we could but see it. Prather wants to smooth a path that is, by nature, rocky. Nondenominational seekers of the spiritual depths will do better with the grandfather work of this genre, Aldous Huxley's The Perennial Philosophy. (First printing of 40,000)