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Book of the Week: Knowing Darkness

Title: Knowing Darkness: Reflections on Skepticism, Melancholy, Friendship, and God
Author: Addison Hodges Hart

Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans

Buy a copy from Eighth Day Books.

Quick Thoughts:

The problem with Christian faith, Addison Hart suggests, is that our culture equates it with positive feelings, correct belief, or a supra-rational certainty that transcends worldly misery. Such depictions may leave Christians privately wondering if they possess faith at all–for how are we to reconcile such a ‘static and flat’ state with inevitable times of sorrow, with a tangible sense of God’s absence (a la Mother Theresa), or the uncomfortable proddings of our intellect? In these conversational essays, Hart offers us a richer picture of faith that embraces melancholy and skepticism, not as the antitheses of faith but as its complements–and perhaps the very vehicles that draw us closer to God. Skepticism, for Hart, is neither despair nor doubt but the search for truth–the human faculty that rejects conventional pieties and strives after what is genuine. Likewise, he differentiates melancholy from depression, describing a ‘thoughtful sadness’ rooted in the remembrance of death and expressed by Jesus himself, the ‘man of sorrows’ whose melancholy ‘intersects with the sorrows we all experience.’ We witness Job and Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes) struggling with their own brands of melancholy and skepticism, not to mention the lack of sympathetic friends. Noting that ‘God gives us particular friends to give us [his] presence,’ Hart concludes by reflecting on how friendship nurtures faith, ‘bringing together those who mutually sustain and fortify their spiritual lives through God-given ties.’
– Eighth Day Books

Publisher’s Description:
Too often, Christians who find themselves feeling skeptical or melancholy are perplexed, troubled, or even ashamed. In Knowing Darkness Addison Hodges Hart provocatively argues that both skepticism and melancholy are not necessarily detrimental but can actually strengthen and deepen Christian faith. / Citing diverse examples ranging from Ecclesiastes and Job to Mother Teresa and Jack Kerouac, Hart shows how skepticism and sadness can inform faith ? and how genuine spiritual friendships can sustain those experiencing dark times. / Hart?s forthright, engaging reflections will inspire readers to broaden their ideas about belief and thus find a more authentic faith.

About the Author:
Addison Hart is a professor at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. He is also a contributing editor for Touchstone magazine.

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