The Good Book

The Good Book (Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart) Author: Peter J. Gomes /Pulblished by Avon Books, A division of The Hearst Corporation, New York / First Bard Printing: May 1998 / Paperback 383 Pages 

Holy Week is an important season in my country the Philippines. A lot of folks nowadays may only think of it as vacation time, but I remember a time when it meant so much more.

We used to observe Holy Week differently when we were all young, and our extended family had a focal point of convergence in the house of our grandparents. I miss my Lolo and Lola so much more during times like these. They were not what you would call “religious”, no. But they personified our family traditions that have helped to mold our present characters. And deep in our character, and our traditions, is our Catholic religion.

It is in their memory that I share the next crop of titles — books that have helped the seeker in me, the “believer in exile” as one author calls it.

This first one is a frank, open and thoughtful grappling with what I think is a very difficult subject — the Bible. It’s difficult because people think they know the Bible already and I’ve personally often found it hard to discuss such things with people who “know” everything already. With this book, I’ve felt like I found someone with whom I can actually explore stuff without the emotional diatribes.

The author, the late Peter Gomes (an American Baptist Minister with the Harvard Divinity School) has given me an honest, logical and understandable path of connecting again with this “library of 66 books” that is so often shrouded by my confusion with its many conflicting passages that are sometime so brutal, so violent. In this book, he demonstrates for the reader how to examine the texts for context, how scholars are approaching the “difficult” passages and what strategies they use. I read this book and listen not only to what he says but I also take notes on the way his mind works.

And it is inspiring. He does not get discouraged by the way the texts have been misused in the past and he soldiers on to try and help the reader make sense of it all. The writing is simple and clear. The ideas are heartfelt and heartful, and I appreciate his effort for ordinary readers like me. I, for one, feel better armed to grapple with the Good Book once again and continue my search…

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