John Kirvan writes primarily about classical spirituality and is the author of God Hunger: Discovering the Mystic in All of Us. This devotional paperback is a companion volume to that work. At the outset he states: "Along the way I have come to accept that our spiritual journey will not be a way of easy certitude and satisfaction, but a way of unfathomable mystery, faith, and contradictions. It will be a life lived with a God who in the end remains unknown and unknowable, a life with the world's expectations turned upside down."
The meditations in Raw Faith revolve around the soulful thoughts of a band of insightful Christian, Jewish, and Islamic spiritual teachers who share a deep respect for the mysteries of God. Among them are Henri J. M. Nouwen on trust, Therese of Lisieux on surrender, Blaise Pascal on heart, Al-Ghazzali on loving God, Nicholas of Cusa on ignorance, and Karl Rahner on faith.
"It is a temptation to tame the most demanding contradictions of the spiritual life by turning them into platitudes," writes Kirvan. The challenge of a steadfast and open-minded faith is to accept paradox, the limits of what our minds can fathom, or as Pascal puts it: "It is the heart that is conscious of God and not the reason."
Kirvan challenges us to resist the temptation "to shrink God to manageable size." Taming the transcendent is an all too human project, and it always winds up in idolatry. A far better approach, one that nurtures faith, is to follow the advice of Guigo II, a Carthusian monk: "To sit alone and listen in silence is to rise above our selves."