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Book Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat


Awaken Your Senses
Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God
J. Brent Bill, Beth Booram
IVP Books 12/11 Paperback $15.00
ISBN: 9780830835607

J. Brent Bill is a writer, retreat leader, and Quaker minister. Beth Booram is a spiritual director, congregational consultant, writer, and retreat leader. In this inspiring and creative work, they combine their talents to explore delighting in the five senses as a means of experiencing more of God. They each contribute essays on each sense. In the introduction, they explain:

"We're going to introduce you to spiritual practices that engage your whole person: both sides of your brain, all five senses, and your body. In this way you'll learn how to cultivate an experiential faith — one that trains you to be attentive to a self-disclosing God who reveals himself in each daily round of beauty."

This intention is a noble and timely one given the slowness and the resistance of many Christians and their churches to the idea and practice of a sensuous spirituality. It is the right time for believers of all stripes to respond gratefully and joyfully through their senses to the wonder of God abounding in the people, places, plants, animals, and things in our lives. Here is a ticket to board this merry ride and to see your flesh and the world afresh.

The sense of taste not only spurs us on to sample a variety of delectable foods but it also teaches us to seek out the best in Scripture, faith, and that within us that can deal with our cravings.

Seventy percent of our sense receptors are located in the eyes. That helps to explain the importance of seeing in our assessment and comprehension of the world. Bill and Booram focus on wisdom, photography, the moon, glory, seeing spiritually, and making the most of your best self.

Touch has been called the oldest and most urgent sense. Consider the love, the soothing balm, and the peace that has graced our lives through this magical act. Booram salutes the emotional wisdom of touch, the bonds it creates, and the healing it engenders. This sense is also related to Jesus, stones, prayer, and building an altar.

Our ears are treated to a smorgasbord of sounds each and every day. We have to pick and choose what to give our attention to and what to tune out. In the noisy environment in which we all live, silence has become more precious than ever. Bill and Booram discuss this sense and music, pain, footsteps, the Spirit, and the news.

According to scientists, human beings can detect over 10,000 different odors. Smells stir up memories and warn us of danger. In this chapter, the authors share their ideas and experiences of smelling in relationship to flowers, salty air, home, healing oil, and coffee.

Bill and Booram conclude with the following:

"A life as a spiritual sensate can't be confined to a devotional hour set aside each day. To be sensuous Christians, we must live globally, openly and responsibly to the world around us. In doing so, we find the Divine within that world inviting, inspiring, teaching, speaking and revealing fresh aspects of God's self."


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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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