BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Very odd ...

Yes, I know that I frequently describe assorted books here as "odd", but this one is quite odd in that, while it does appear to have an ISBN and a publisher, there is no trace of this on the Internet ... not at Amazon, not at B&N, not on, not in the various corners poked into by Google. And, this isn't some obscure chapbook from the 1960's ... it was published just four years ago, not in some unpronounceable place in south or central Asia, but right here in the U.S. of A., so there is no good reason that this should be so invisible! How did I get it? The author (and his associates from had a table at a recent "sidewalk sale" up in Lincoln Square, and they gave me a couple of books, this being one of them. Very odd, indeed.

This slim volume, Almost Home: A Correspondence with a Spiritual Teacher, is fairly odd in and of itself. It is not directly attributed to a particular author (although "Prakash" is on the spine), and appears to be an actual set of e-mail exchanges between "Angie" and "Prakash" (aka Kevin Edwards). Now, Prakash, as one might guess from the name, is a bit of a New Age teacher. Frankly, what I've read of his writing so far has impressed me with its focus, directness, and ecumenical sourcing. So, I was somewhat surprised to find that the main credential that he trots out is "a Masters Degree in Sacred Theology from the Angelicum in Rome", which, upon a bit more digging, is not some new age workshop space in the back of a coffeehouse, but The Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, brought to you by the same lovely Dominican order that was so zealous with their management of the Inquisition!

In this book, "Angie" (who appears to be a real person, but her web site is locked down, and there's not much else about her) is going for a mid-life Confirmation in the Catholic Church (a conversion, I take it), and she is having all sorts of cognitive dissonance (OK, she doesn't see it that way, just "weakness") with all the B.S. that's involved with trying to swallow The Big Lie lock, stock, and barrel. I guess Prakash (based on his Dominican training?) was recommended to her and they have this back-and-forth exchange.

As noted above, there is nothing that I could find any fault with (well, the Biblical references, but that's just me) in anything that Prakash tells her ... but it's almost comical to watch "Angie" fall all over herself trying to out-Catholic the Pope, interspersed with "oh, now I'm enlightened!" non-sequiturs of the newage variety. Prakash is obviously very well versed in Buddhism, Vedanta, Sufism, etc. and brings this awareness to bear on the floundering "Angie". The book takes her through almost a "deprogramming" and then into a "Catholic relapse". I suspect that the reason this book is "invisible" is that "Angie" (who does have a full name listed) decided that full-bore Papism was what she needed rather than enlightenment, and pulled out of the project (speaking of "projects", the apparent publisher of this is a group called "Awakened Heart Project" which is the name of a newagey Jewish site, but with no mention of this book). This could explain the sort of "shadow existence" the book seems to be in at this point!

Anyway, I am fascinated by this Prakash fellow ... I'm presently reading the other book I got from them, and am quite taken by his substance and style (as opposed to the videos on his site, which, frankly, creep me out a bit) ... I will be interested in figuring out what he's about and where he's coming from. Again, his side of these exchanges are quite inspiring, and well worth the read.

Since there is no "trace" of Almost Home out in the real world, it appears that ordering it direct is one's only option ... it is available there, as is a .pdf download of about 1/4th of the book (interesting, with the ISBN stripped out). This is an odd one, but the "teaching" in it seems to be quality, so you might want to check it out (I think I will have something more substantial to say about the next one!).

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Tags: book review
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