Book Review: The Compassion Quest @SPCKPublishing @Trystan_Hughes

9780281068258I said on January 1st that I’d resume continuous blogging and I failed miserably. Mostly this is because of getting married, but also because of various things to do with my job, looking at the future and some website problems here at DeanRoberts.Net. However, I am determined now, more than ever, to start my regular blogging. Very determined indeed. And to start off, I have decided to catch up on some reviews. Unfortunately, the Old Library is still down at the moment so you will be unable to access previous reviews that I have done including some which should have been published. For now, reviews will be published as normal blog posts! Anyway, on with a review of The Compassion Quest, by Rev. Dr. Trystan Owain Hughes – a brilliant chap who is a former lecturer of mine and is also a brilliant man of God. Before I say anything on the book, here’s what SPCK have said:

In this lively and engaging follow-up to his much praised Finding Hope and Meaning in Suffering, Trystan Owain Hughes encourages us to develop an approach to life that looks beyond our own concerns. Using illustrations from poetry, literature and film, and drawing on contemporary scientific thought, the author reveals that our natural state is an interconnected harmony with God, with each other and with the world around us. Through showing compassion, which is love in action, we move towards that harmony and rediscover our reason for being.

Gradually we come to realize that loving others and desiring the best for them is worthwhile, even when there seems to be little in it for us. Just as Christ chose to humble himself and become ‘God with us’, so we too will bring light to the lives of those around us by transcending our self-centredness and becoming fully present to those in need. And as we begin to attune ourselves to love’s frequency, our inner being will instinctively embrace all creation as sacred and deserving of our care and attention.

And I concur. This was a brilliant book by someone who knows what they’re talking about and knows how to communicate in a clear, contemporary way. I will always have fond memories of my lectures with Trystan as someone who was conversational, interactive and fun. This book has all these qualities and is able to be read easily. It’s easy on the eyes yet the detail and explanation of the subject matter isn’t lacking.

I’ve personally found the opening sections of the book very interesting and relevant for 21st century living, especially as a Christian. Yes, we shouldn’t separate ourselves from God’s creation and make distinctions between sacred and secular and so on; doing this will hinder our ability to love; the book points out quite clearly that love/compassion isn’t just words of sympathy, but actions that help to bring restoration. This point is made early on in the book and is explored well using a variety of techniques and examples. On a jokey side note, I’ve even bought a couple of films that have been mentioned in the book as explanations for some of the deeper concepts that Trystan presents to us!

What I also love about this book is that it presents Christianity in a very “get your hands dirty” practical way. Love and compassion in its deepest sense doesn’t come without mess, yet this is the Jesus that is found in scripture – someone who gets His hands dirty for society in order for them to see the Kingdom of God being revealed on the earth (in part, at least). The challenge of the book is to live our Christian lives in this mindset, that God is concerned with the restoration of the world through genuine Christlike compassion. Whilst many of us get that in theory, many of us are unable to effectively do this in a practical way. The Compassion Quest sorts that out for us. I love the mix of theology/spirituality with the practical applications of the book. What good is theology if nothing practical is achieved by it?

I should note also that The Compassion Quest isn’t idealistic. It’s realistic and that’s what makes this book so precious. Many Christian books that have been published over the years talk about things as they will be one day, but Trystan isn’t afraid to challenge his audience with problems that the Church has faced and is facing and allowing us to come to terms with where we actually are and how we can successfully change for the better. In being realistic, he isn’t afraid to face the issue of suffering but addresses it in a way which can be accepted as something which can cause us to view life in a better, more rewarding way through living out the compassion that we are on the quest for throughout the book. I’m hoping that this book really will shape my life both physically and spiritually – that after reading this I will be able to be more accepting of life as it is but with the knowledge of a restoring and redeeming God. This book will help you to see how life works in a different way, and I highly recommend it .

You may think I’m biased here but this book is certainly getting a 10/10. 100 pages of wonderful writing, great content and many challenges that we all need to think about.

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Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about