Looking in the Distance, The Human Search for Meaning by Richard Holloway

Canongate 2004

Review by Alan Goss, Napier

Richard Holloway is the former Bishop of Edinburgh. In this book he suggest a new approach for many people in our secular society who have given up on religion but who are still interested in spirituality. Of these people Holloway says "they have not left the church for the simple reason thet were never in it."
The book is on four movements. The first, Still Looking, deals with our complusion to understand how the universe works. The universe is not interested in our individual lives, we live in a permanent state of not knowing, which is very painful; so we look for answers, explanations, solutions.
The second movement is Speaking. The Christian story, though today rapidly fading, was dominant in the West until recently. It has been replaced, for all practical purposes, by the great narrative of science.
The third movement is Listening and deals with questions of morality. The traditional landmarks have been swept away and we are offered a cafeteria of customs, values and new ethical situations which are strange and bewildering.
The last, Leaving, talks of our penchant to erect and maintain bulwarks opposed to change. To love well we have to learn when its time to let go. This requires a ligtness of feel and touch so that when change is called for it will be accomplished "elegantly rather than awkwardly". This leads to the question of death and dying ... give it heaps until the final whistle. Then go with grace.
The book is a good read and his arguments are supported with numerous quotes from poets which are relevant and often moving. He is always refreshing and invariably right on cue.



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