Reflecting on Holy Week 2008
Accepting the Blessing of Others

Book Review: The Luminous Dusk

Luminousdusk_cover_2 Dale C. Allison Jr's, The Luminous Dusk: Finding God in the Deep, Still Places,  is a delightfully intellectual invitation to explore and embrace our need for a deeper, more contemplative spirituality.

Although Richard Foster heads the offering of back-cover accolades, The Luminous Dusk is far from being a Foster-like book when it comes to the contemplative life. Allison takes on our culture's need for a deeply informed and reflective spirituality with amazing panache.  In today's smörgåsbord of books on contemplative spirituality, where Foster may be seen as serving up potatoes and gravy (a true staple), Allison's offering is all steak. 

Whether one is a professional "academic" or an armchair theologian/philosopher, The Luminous Dark will scratch scores of thoughtful souls right where they itch, and then beckon them into deeper and darker waters.  I am not aware of a single book on contemplative spirituality which makes a more prolific and inspiring use of both ancient and modern thought-leaders from across the spectrum of academic disciplines.  In one chapter, entitled, "Mute Angels," where he lays out a stellar treatise on the holiness of silence, Allison quotes from the likes of (listed in no particular order):

Epicurus, Philo of Alexandria, Origen, Thomas Aquinas, Ignatius of Antioch, Ephrem the Syrian, John Climacus, writer, O. Henry, mathematician, Laplace, as well as Alasdair MacIntyre, Blaise Pascal, Geddes MacGregor, Aldous Huxley, John Greenleaf Whittier, G.K. Chesterton,  Soren Kierkegaard, Max Picard, and several others.  And that's just one chapter!

When it comes to motivating folks to read this amazing treatise, Allison's own summary remarks may well serve as the most enticing of invitations:

The luminous dusk, the unspent, dark cloud of God's glory, lies beyond a door that is buried, in the words of Teresa of Avila, "in the extreme interior, in some very deep place within." Although only God's grace can open the door, we can at least do our best to stand before the doorway.  We do this by temporarily abandoning, during prayer and meditation, the world of the five sense, by declining to look at or listen to or think about the things around us.  Darkness and stillness then become our collaborators, helping us to drag our attention away from this world of divertissement to the numinous world that holds the neglected fountain of divine light...[the place where] we are remade -- and then sent back into the everyday, material world to do our mundane tasks with renewed life (Luminous, p. 178).



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