A psychological exploration of Christian faith.
For his nonfiction debut, Coles applies his experience as a psychotherapist to the task of addressing some fundamental questions about living in the modern era: specifically, how to separate the stress and distractions of life from what really matters, how to avoid making the same mistakes over and over in one’s personal life, and, especially, how to understand the concept of love—its strengths, its challenges, and its risks. He advocates an interdisciplinary approach that borrows from many disparate fields, seeking a psychology that’s more in tune with the soul while also noting that “religion also needs to embrace and learn from psychology more.” The main focus of this interdisciplinary approach is on the frenetic state of the modern mind and spirit. Year after year, Coles contends, people add a little bit more exhaustion to their lives, leading to a day-to-day existence that’s full of stress, which is compounded by a loss of perspective. These create a feedback situation, he says, in which people become their own worst enemies when it comes to seeing what’s truly important: “People who have to win all the time,” he writes, “don’t know what it’s like to get past arrogance and to experience a situation free of a need that will never be met.” Throughout, he effectively uses hypotheticals and real-world examples to underscore the idea that people always have choices—specifically, that they always have the ability to decide which of their inner angels to heed. As a result, the book offers an engaging and invigorating message throughout. It’s muddled only slightly by a few of the author’s assertions, such as the bewildering, unsupported claim that “the Bible tells us not to be stressed.” For the most part, however, this is a readable and well-sourced look at how Christianity can work in a complicated and unhealthily nervous world.
A patient, cerebral approach for Christians looking to eliminate the stresses that keep them from what they truly want.