Seeing the Self Through the Eyes of God
Chris J. Carr has written Seeing the Self Through the Eyes of God with a very lofty goal in mind: to help people find God “in a different way than put forward by traditional religion.” He was inspired to do so by the fact that religiosity––which is this context is most commonly interpreted as Christianity––is declining worldwide, especially among the younger generations. To Carr’s mind, this decline in traditional religion is not due to an inherent lack of desire to know and understand God on the part of individuals, but rather to the failings of organized religion and the overemphasis of religion as a faith/belief instead of a unique type of intelligence.
In the first part of the book, which is the more abstract and philosophical part, Carr considers God’s vision of the self, as evidenced by scripture, and then examines how self-development can be managed from a spiritual perspective. The discussion begins with a particularly interesting point: “Jesus was a critic of religion.” Although often overlooked or glossed over in theological works, this is both true and important, and it stresses the need for Christians to question religious authorities and established dogma. Carr’s idea is that God is present in the here and now, which makes it necessary to develop an understanding of God’s plan for the spiritual self through engaging in reflection and analysis.
Here, Carr criticizes traditional religions for demanding unquestioning obedience in exchange for the promise of a glorious afterlife, and his arguments make a great deal of sense. He makes it clear that people’s focus should be on upholding God’s idea of the Christian self in this world, not in the afterlife. Also, his notion of Christianity is hearteningly inclusive. To elucidate God’s vision of the self, Carr presents a series of essential passages from the Bible that consider key issues such as the greatest commandment and who counts as a neighbor. The points and arguments related are interesting, and it might have been worthwhile to expand the various subsections further.
Carr then moves on in the second part of the book to set out a framework for developing the spiritual self, which includes the provision of practical exercises designed to help readers put his ideas into practice. Founded on the idea of depth prayer as a means of transcending ego-based consciousness and moving toward spiritually-based consciousness, the exercises include focusing on the breath in the present moment (to achieve mindfulness and radical presence) and lessening the grip of judgment (to actualize Matthew 7:1––“Judge not lest you be judged”). The exercises really enhance the practical application of Carr’s ideas, which elevates the interest and appeal of the book.
Seeing the Self Through the Eyes of God represents an innovative and welcome alternative perspective on Christianity and how Christians should aim to behave. It is likely to particularly appeal to those who are questioning their experiences with traditional religions or seeking to put their ideas of spirituality into practice to a greater extent than is typically suggested.
|Author||Chris J. Carr PhD|
|Page Count||230 pages|
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