I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Friday, June 13, 2014

His Desire Is For Me - A Book Review

His Desire Is For Me: The Story of Solomon and The Shulammite by Bob Emery




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This was a book I got from Speakeasy and I must admit that I got so disgusted with the super-mushy romantic writing and the bad theology that I only read about half of it.  But that doesn't mean that you do not get a thorough review!  I am still going to talk about the points I liked and the points I really did not.

I was really excited about this book as it is a devotional about the Song of Songs, the rarely talked about love poem in the Bible written by Soloman.  Optimally, it is meant to be read in thirty days, but as I have said before, I do not have the patience for that kind of reading.  Each day opens with several pages with a fictional expansion on what might have taken place between Solomon and the Shulammite and then it has several more pages under "points to consider" that are theology.  The section then ends with a prayer.  Let me say this: not all people, or even all women, are into super intensive romance mush.  I like the Song of Songs, because romance is easier for me to take in and think about in artful and poetic formats, but the sections that are written out are too ordinary and mushy for and I ended up skimming them and then I just skipped them entirely and went straight to the theology.

Here is one example of the cheesy romance:

Wherever we go, I will not be afraid, just as long as you are there. (106)
 Gag me!  And to me that is bad theology-just because I love my partner and agree to follow them, does not mean that I still will not have times where I will not still be afraid.  The point is not that you are afraid, but that you go on anyway.  That's faith.  To state that life with your partner or life with Jesus means that you will never be afraid, to me, is lying and presenting an inauthentic version of yourself.

Unfortunately, I soon became disgusted with the theology too:
Why did Jesus heal only that one man that day?  It was because the Father who dealt within Jesus as Spirit, in Christ's spirit, was showing and telling his Son, "This is the man, my Son, whom I want you to heal today." (115)
 No, it was because the man was ready.  The man consented to be healed-he was tired of waiting and being complacent and was finally ready for action.  A person can be sick, but be complacent in their illness and not really be ready to be well-it is not so much that God chose the man, but that the man made the choice-that is free will!

Therefore, what is happening in my life right now (unless it involves outright sin on my part) must be the perfect expression of the will of God and is for my ultimate good.  (122)
 This is outright BAD theology!  Is my mental illness, my blindness, my fibromyalgia, and my chronic fatigue syndrome bestowed upon me by Godde for my ultimate good?  NO!  And it surely isn't because I sinned, either!  No, I have those conditions, because of genetics and because of life circumstances-Godde did not inflict them on me to teach me a lesson, but instead I eventually chose to find positives in those conditions and I chose to keep on striving for well-being with the help of my parents, my therapist, my friends, support groups, doctors, and yes, my Godde was there as my life-giving partner, not my dominating Lord or King, but soul-sustaining, hope-giving Spirit and Friend.  I do not believe that God purposely gives people hardship for their well-being, but that hardship on its own is a part of life and that if we listen to Godde's urging then we will be able to discern which direction to take in order to see the bad situation or condition in a more positive light.

The book presents the story of Solomon and the Shulammite as ultimately an allegory between how much Jesus loves us and our relationship to him, but I just do not see how that is possible, considering that that poem was written before Christ was ever born.  Context, people!!!  While Emery tries hard to make it work, I still find it too much of a stretch and disgusting to corrupt beautiful poetry that way by trying to make it fit into what you want it to be (I was an English major, after all).

There are some statements in the book that I do agree with and that is the idea that we must rest in Godde and Christ to provide our sustenance before we can adequately give to others.  (Sort of like we must love ourselves before we can love others, so we must be adequately rested in Jesus before we can work for him.)

Before we can adequately serve others, we need the Lord to refresh and fill us so that, out of fullness, we will have something to give. (46)
On Peter: He needed to allow the Lord to wash the dust of this world off of his feet, refresh him, and fill him before he would ever be of any use in serving others. (77)
I like this idea-it really resonates with my feelings of needing time for myself for renewal.  Even though I just got back from vacation (and I will write more vacation posts soon), I still feel like I need to draw away for some internal renewal and several books that I have read-this one included-have made me think that perhaps one of the reasons why I am still not feeling adequately renewed is because I have been trying to get renewal by being alone, but not by being alone with Godde.  It really would help if I started meditating on scripture or bringing my journal when I go out into nature and write spiritual poetry and spiritual reflections, instead of sitting there and receiving blessings that only last for minutes.  Because I am a doer and I need active participation and listening with my Godde-sitting there in silence just won't quite cut it for me, but if I specifically sit with the intention to write down my spiritual gleanings from the experience or do spiritual artwork on a regular basis, then my soul is more easily filled.  Of course, another way to be filled by Godde is to be with people and to serve them, for I find Jesus in the face of every person I help and encourage and in everyone that helps and encourages me!

Do I recommend this book?  Well, everyone else gave it good review, so you may like it a lot! However, I would only give it two stars out of five.

Link Love:

the Southern Baptist convention went from declaring that “War is a scourge, is wrong in principle and morally corrupting” to spending a considerable amount of time arguing that there should not be homosexuals openly in the military because it damages the military’s ability to kill people.

Being sex-positive must also include being supportive and respectful of those who aren’t interested in or aren’t ready for sex, for whatever reason — this includes not questioning, challenging, or harassing people who express a desire to not be sexual, whether for a lifetime or a given period of time.

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