JOHN'S SONG OF LIFE by Jerome Vanora


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A complex philosophical dialogue that attempts to combine Eastern and Western teachings for the layperson.

Vanora has practiced law and studied philosophy for much of his life, which works as both a benefit and a liability in this slim volume of philosophical discussions. The positives are revealed as the author artfully plays devil’s advocate to the wise pronouncements of the prophetlike character, John. A shadowy figure with no clear background, John guides him through familiar spiritual concepts such as that the soul never dies. Vanora picks through the holes and contradictions of such statements to provide readers with a thorough look at the details. On the other hand, his lawyerly arguments can prove tedious, and act as barriers to the essence of the spiritual principles. For example, when John discusses the oneness of all existence, the author goes off on a tangent about the way St. Francis of Assisi talked to animals. Although this may illustrate the interconnectedness of all beings, it moves the reader away from the original thesis. In addition to Assisi, the book references many philosophers such as Paul Brunton, Padre Pio, Rumi and various Eastern mystics with whom general readers may not be familiar. Vanora tries to break their teachings down into simple directives, but this isn’t always effective. More succesful are the chapters in which the author connects ancient spiritual concepts to modern issues. John offers some intriguing insight on the hot-button topic of abortion, while the author raises the modern pro-choice concerns. After 14 chapters of compelling discourse and puzzling allusions, John concludes his teaching with a reference to a Kabbalah mystic–“the real man is already in heaven, with the shadow man living here on earth.” It’s an obscure statement that perfectly sums up the occasionally baffling nature of the book.

An engrossing read for new-age philosophers that may lose general readers.

Pub Date: July 7th, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4363-3299-6
Program: Kirkus Indie
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