Longtime readers of the J-Blog know of my friendship with Ed Cyzewski, author and unfortunately for all of us fan of the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets. We pray for his healing and restoration. Anyway, Ed released a new book a little while ago, and invited me to offer up a review. Being the good friend that I am, I took nearly two months to read it, and even longer to actually get around to writing a review. This, as they say, is #twinlife. Anyway, I encourage us all to take a cue from Ed's author picture above. Sit back, relax with a cup of coffee, and read this review of an awesome book!
When I picked up Flee, Be Silent, Pray by Ed Cyzewski, I was in a mediocre place. I wasn't exactly in a "dark night of the soul," but I wasn't really thriving spiritually either. I would occasionally pick up this prayer practice, that devotional reading, another blog to consume. But everything fell well short of kick starting the spiritual engine. But then, and I promise that I am not over selling this, Ed helped me to have a spiritual awakening.
"God's love is already ours, and until we learn how to simply receive it, we'll get stuck in an anxious rut of performance, failure, and struggle." (Kindle Location 365) That sentence hit me like a ton of bricks, and wouldn't let me go. God's love is already ours. I had actually proclaimed this with tremendous frequency, sometimes from behind the pulpit. But I don't know until I had put it in terms of prayer, of silence, of contemplation, just how meaningful it was to me. The phrase that stuck with me for the months that have followed was "I want to dwell in the joy of God's love," a task made much easier when I was reminded that I already had God's love.
Cyzewski frames much of the anxiety that I was feeling from the place of an evangelical Christian. Truth be told, as a mainline Presbyterian I am not myself comfortable with the label of "evangelical" as our world knows it. I want people to know the Good News of Jesus Christ, but I don't so much feel the need to only vote Republican or believe in biblical inerrancy to do that. But the evangelicals I do know seem to fit the mold that Cyzewski is pointing to here. Their relationship with God seems to be (primarily anyway) one of what we as humans have to bring to the table in the relationship. Have you done enough for God lately? I don't think that's how God works, but I had never really thought about the anxiety that type of spiritual relationship must create for the evangelical. It makes all the sense in the world. And since I was feeling a bit of this anxiety in myself, perhaps it isn't limited to just those who wear the banner of evangelical.
My every hope and prayer is that evangelicals will read this book with an open heart and mind. My worry is that they will read something like this, and fear that Ed has started to "backslide," that's he's caved, that he gave in to prevailing Catholic ideology. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Far from backsliding, I feel like Ed has opened us up to a pathway forward in faith, one that the Church has known about for thousands of years. In a busy, cell phone dominated world, Ed has shown us the value of unplugging. In a over broadcasting Twitter society, Ed has taught us the deep value of shutting down and listening for a while. I hope the Church, whether evangelical or otherwise, is ready to listen.