Diss Unity: a book review

Ogun Holder has written an interesting book called Rants to Revelations. This is a spiritual memoir (a favorite genre of mine) which recounts Holder’s spiritual journey from a traditional religious upbringing in Barbados, to the more accepting, affirming religious tradition of the Unity church. Holder writes with warmth and humor. He is vulnerable about parts of his journey and shares the insights he’s gained. He is an affable guy and a proud and involved father. I think it is impossible to read this book and not genuinely like Holder.

This makes it all the more tragic, that I find this book so disagreeable. Holder’s journey to Unity involved his rejection of the traditional Christian faith he was raised in. Much of his Christian faith was recast with a humanistic and metaphysical bent. The gospels were read more for their metaphorical power than a description of events that actually happened. He makes the dubious claim that most scholars disbelieve in the virgin birth (while this describes the tenor of certain academic settings, it does not address the majority Christian understanding).  In Holder’s understanding Lent is not a season of confession in repentance, but an opportunity for us to release negativity (“Let’s Eliminate Negative Thoughts”). God is no longer a deity ‘out there’ but exists in you at the ground of your being.

These convictions describe the faith that Holder holds, but they are different from the historic Christian faith.  The ‘faith’ espoused in these pages is characterized by a strong belief in the goodness of all humanity and our interconnection. While there are certain commendable features with the belief system of  Unity, there is a lot which is problematic.  The belief in the essential goodness of human creatures is a half truth which fails to account for the reality of human evil. The distinctive Christian vision of the world, and God’s remedy for the problem of human sinfulness is sorely missing from Holder’s spirituality. Likewise there is a certain ambiguity which I find unhelpful. I do not know what Holder means when he talks about church or religion or spirituality. Since God and Christ are recast as ‘within us,’ ‘in the mind,’ and ‘a part of us,’ it is unclear that God occupies any place in objective reality

This isn’t to say that Holder doesn’t get some things right. I love his commitment to  non-discrimination and the care he has for his family. I also think he says some great things about learning to accept yourself in the spiritual journey. However I cannot recommend this book. I give this book ★★ but that is with some grade inflation due to Ogun Holder’s charm and likability. Also, the chapters are each illustrated with cartoons by David Hayward (nakedpastor.com).  I like some of these cartoons a lot.  I’m not a fan of disunity but I have to ‘diss Unity’ for failing to hold true to a robust vision of Christ.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

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I am a pastor, husband, father, instigator, pray-er, hoper, writer, trouble-maker, peacemaker, and friend. Who are you?

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