Robert V. Thompson,
A Voluptuous God
(CopperHouse, 2007)

For 25 years, Robert V. Thompson has served as minister to the Lake Street Church in Evanston, Ill. Ordained as a Baptist minister, he began in the early 1990s to explore the world's other spiritual traditions, a move that led him to become what he calls a "Christian heretic." He now believes all of the world's religions have their roots in the same spiritual earth and the entire question of our relationship to a Supreme Being is much more complicated than most religious institutions would have us believe.

A Voluptuous God is the result of his search for a different way of embracing the Almighty. His title comes from a statement by the 14th-century mystic Meister Eckhardt, who said "God is voluptuous and delicious," and if Thompson's complex vision can be summed up in a sentence, it would be this: God does not reside in a faraway heaven remote from us; God is within us, is us. There is, according to Thompson, God in me, God in you, God in all. As he writes:

If I am asked if I believe in a God whose abode is in a heaven, separated from the earthly domain, the answer is, "No, I do not believe in that God." If the question is if I believe in a God who uses coercive power to make things happen a certain way, I reply, "Not that one either."

Instead, he offers a toast to a different conception of God:

Here's to a God who giggled with delight, who tickles creation in order to waken it to the pleasures of life and the joys of living, who gets under your skin and who wants to get up close and personal. God is full of delight. God is sensual. God luxuriates in pleasure.

His book details his vision. It offers a look at Christian mysticism for the world we live in. It's important to note Thompson is a minister rather than a theologian. Therefore, his book is clear, readable and offers a lot of pleasure. He is a great believer in stories, so he relies on tales from the Bible, from Zen, from the Sufi masters and the world's other religions to make his points, rather than using the arcane and abstract academic evidence a professional theologian would use.

As a result, A Voluptuous God is both an important book and an enjoyable one. Thompson offers a clear and vivid discussion of Christian Mysticism and its importance to our society. He wants to make our lives better, our faith stronger and our compassion and love for everyone foremost in our minds and actions.

It's hard to ask for more.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

22 December 2007

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