Sunday, August 05, 2012
Book Review of Awaken Your Senses by J. Brent Bill and Beth A. Booram
Awaken Your Senses: Exercises for Exploring the Wonder of God
J. Brent Bill and Beth A. Booram
Published by Intervarsity Press
Reviewed by Clint Walker
I received a review copy of this book several months ago. One of the challenges of reviewing books is that there are some books that do not fit easily on a timetable. When you read some books, you want to slow down, absorb, and savor them. Awaken Your Senses is one such book.
In the spirit of The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, Bill and Booram describe several spiritual exercises to help their readers draw closer to God. Each of these spiritual exercises focus on one of the five senses with which we engage the world.
This technique of using one's senses to open doors to encountering God is thoroughly Biblical. The authors go to great measures to establish this as they introduce their text. After all, doesn't the Scripture say, "taste and see", "open your ears", "hear what the Lord says" and more?
Bill and Booram describe their methodology as developing "sensuous faith". In the book there are 30 exercises, as well as 5 "art reflections". With the thirty reflections there are 6 exercises for each of the 5 senses. These exercises begin with a short reflection, followed by a further explanation of what the exercise is attempting to teach, then the technical nature of the exercise is explained so the reader can practice the spiritual exercise, and then finally there is some brief reflection based upon the experience prescribed. There are more exercises at the end of the book. These activities appear that they would take a little larger time investment, and perhaps more of a larger group to practice.
In the world of spiritual formation literature, there is very little that is original. Awaken Your Senses and these exercises are thought provoking, and the text is very original, with a little bit of a "classical" quality at the same time. This resource would be suitable for a week of intensive practice. It would also be a good resource during Lent, if you could work out the timing of the exercises, and extend them throughout the season.
I loved this book. I will use it personally, and at some point I will use it in a class with my congregation as well. Awaken Your Senses is a keeper.