friday book review

Unless we go through this fire that consumes the decaying passions of our nature, we shall not see the fire transformed into light…Archimandrite Sophrony

I’ve been reading on and off this little book entitled A Tiny Step Away from Deepest Faith by Marjorie Corbman. It’s one of the best books on a person’s spirtual journey that I’ve read in quite a while. What’s most amazing is that she’s only 18, and she writes of the spiritual journey that all of us go through with a depth that betrays her age. She’s thought longer and harder about the deeper things in her brief span than I think I ever have. Pick up the book, give it a read. Give it someone you know who’s searching for answers. Here’s some passages from the book:

Above all I think I wanted to be told that I was special. It sounds corny, but that was always there; that was always the force behind everything. No matter how much someone loved me or told me that they loved me, it wasn’t enough; I was always empty, and I attributed my emptiness to the fact that no one valued me as a human being.
Always , always, there was the obsession-as my friend Lynn puts it- “the need to find someone who loves as passionately as you do,” who has the full force of emotions that you have, directed towards you, so for once you are the god of their idolatry…so that you are cherished, treasured, loved. I myself would obsess over people; I am wired for worship. I would find people to love with all my being, but selfishly, always wishing they would love me back, always wondering why no one cared about me the way I cared about them.


“The self is so small,” I said at one point, and started thinking about it.

I don’t know exactly when “the self” as the definite object of my quest became irrelevant to me. I don’t know who I am, really, and I don’t always feel that others love me when they say they do-I’m still a bit paranoid when it comes to the people I love. But it doesn’t really matter that much to me now; I have stopped thinking about myself so much. As Fr Aidan Nichols in his Epiphany: A Theological Introduction to Catholicism: “I became aware that I am not an “I” looking for an divine “Thou” as a “thou” engaged in the Divine “I”.” I have come to realize that I am not the focal point of existence; I exist only in relation to One who is beyond me. All existence comes from elsewhere.

Self-esteem is not the same as self-love, I suppose. I never treated myself well, I never thought much of myself, but in general throughout my life I was always obsessed with myself. I guess I still don’t always treat myself very well, but increasingly I find that I am happiest when I almost forget that I exist, and concern myself with more important things. Ironically, it is when I forget about myself that I start to truly find out who I am; when I focus on others my place in the world, brought down from the exalted throne I imagined for it, becomes clearer. I always wanted to be told I was special-I always wanted a reason to value myself. But when the perfect comes-the imperfect disappears, and when I started valuing what was outside myself, I found, in that, my value. Whoever loses his life will save it.


5 thoughts on “friday book review

  1. Allow me to begin by confessing that I hate it when 18 year olds write better than I do, when I do it for a living. There, it’s off my chest. Now I can write about what the little brat said…

    “‘the need to find someone who loves as passionately as you do,’ who has the full force of emotions that you have, directed towards you, so for once you are the god of their idolatry…so that you are cherished, treasured, loved.” – How in the world can you have that depth of understanding (much less usage of words) when you are only 18? This lady is not only a prodigy, she is prophetic – speaking so eloquently what all of us (no matter our age) feel deep down with regards to emotion and love. I think the phrase “you are the god of their idolatry” is the most amazing summation of our deepest desires that I have ever heard.

    I feel like I should put my proverbial pen down and give up on writing because I cannot hope to match this young woman’s abilities.

  2. ummm… ditto.

    i feel like a slobbering idiot when i try to put in writing my thoughts. :)

    but yeah, i agree about the part you quoted. there’s a lot more she says that i’m thinking about posting. what’s crazy is she’s been processing things like this since 11! i think all i cared was really wanting to be in the Youth Group and hang out with the cool kids when i was 11.

  3. Hey, Seth–I met you at St. John’s a couple weeks ago (I’m a friend of Eli’s from work). You have a good thing going here on this blog. Thanks for the tip on this book, I’m intrigued and impressed–just as you are–at her depth. It will be interesting to see how she grows in her writing career from here, and how her words might be used. Blessings.

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