Video: “This Book F#%?ed Me Up”

I was first introduced to Anthony De Mello in 1997/8 when I was 12/13 years old. My father would play his tapes all the time to the point where I almost knew it word for word. That’s quite a young age to be listening to some heavy material like that but I always liked the stories he told. Then like every teenager I left the Church and got involved in Drugs, music and gangs where we would aimlessly wander looking for trouble.

Then later in life as I lay in my one bedroom house I get this book by Anthony called Awareness through the door. It was basically his entire talk on tapes but wrapped up neatly in a paperback. I’d forgotten how deep and intricate his writings were and suddenly began to rediscover myself and ultimately God through this book. I wouldn’t say it immediately converted me to the Catholic faith or anything of the sort. In my opinion it acts as an introduction for the very heavy writings of the saints I would later read when I came back to the faith.

If you were to take all the writings of St.John of the Cross, Theresa of Avila, Spiritual Combat and the Philokalia and then compress them into one tiny little book this would be it. Anthony doesn’t talk about Grace or religion too much in the book and I think he has good reason for that. The reason for this is because it’s already complex as it is without introducing the technicalities of theology into the mix.

The book is really aimed at small minded people far from the concepts of theology like myself to help us skim the surface for the purpose of our existence. Think of it like God in the supermarket and all he wants you to do is taste the wine before you buy.

The book is far from perfect and he has had warning stickers put on his books by the Vatican for some controversial things he’s said. I read the issues they had with his writings. Some of them were not warranted at all whereas other problems they saw I could certainly see why they needed to warn others before they considered opening his books. The issues were mostly theological in nature so I wouldn’t worry about your faith being at stake from reading the book.

We have to remember that Anthony belonged to the Jesuit tradition whose job it is to meet the world half way. There are moments when they over step their boundaries of what is permitted and what is not and the CDF in the Vatican, far from condemning his books are simply making us aware of the boundaries he crossed.

I’ve had people who I’ve given his writings to and they threw the book back at me the next morning. They asked me for more spirituality, I gave it to them but it was too much for them. The reason for this is because true spirituality requires us to be ready to meet the dirt within our own souls. We don’t want to do that, we don’t want a cure, because the cure is painful. All we ever want is relief and to have someone say nice things to us that do not trespass the boundaries of the small world we live in.

Now, I highly recommend you listen to this young mans review. It was refreshing to come across a video review of this book from a person not from the Catholic tradition. I enjoyed listening to his observations and his reaction he gave was similar to my own when I first read the book at the tender age of 22. It’s quite intense and hey, it’s not going to change you over night or anything, but it will leave a lasting impression upon you for life. It will invite you to explore who you are and your purpose in this crazy world. It will at least leave you with some sort of “awareness” and “Self observation”.

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