Book Review of "HOLY FOOLS" By Mathew Woodley
As I began to read I was thinking that this book would have been an introduction of some of the early Christians that were called ‘desert fathers and mothers’. It was more of how studying the desert fathers have affected the author. The author then goes through a list of ‘spiritual disciplines’ that were practiced by the fathers that he himself has tried to put into practice.
The 4 main sections of the book are 1.) Awakening to a Life of Compassion 2) Awakening to a Life of Vulnerability 3) Awakening to a Life of Discipline 4) Awakening to a Life of Spiritual Passion. Each section has either 2 or 3 chapters.
A few of the points the writer brought out that I thought were beneficial were:
-When having a party we should invite those who would normally not be invited. Those who are on the outskirts of society.
- In one chapter he talks about repentance and says this, “The point of repentance isn’t just to make us feel bad; it infuses us with hope and desire, specifically the hope and desire that God can change us, that God’s mercy is available to us, that every breath we take is a gift from a merciful God” p.67
That thought gives a positive aspect to repentance instead of the negative tone that we usually associate with the idea of repenting.
-He stated that the desert fathers emphasized a balanced approach to practicing spiritual disciplines. Noting that not every spiritual ‘program’ fits every human being. p.183
Though there were some good things said I believe I would have enjoyed the book more if it had been an introduction to the desert fathers themselves. I am not sure that another book on the spiritual disciplines is necessary, when there are quite a few others out there that are better than this one.
One thing that bothered me was the seemingly shallowness of some of the examples the writer gave in trying to imitate the desert fathers from a suburban landscape. One such example was that he equated waiting in line at a fast food restaurant equivalent to living in the harsh realities of the desert. Though waiting in line may be a good test of our patience it hardly equates with leaving suburbia and heading off to live in the desert. A book that I would recommend to this author would be “Death by Suburb” by David Goetz.
I would give this book 2 ½ stars.