Item description for Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints (Christian Classics) by James Martin...
Overview By meditating on personal examples from the author's life, as well as reflecting on the inspirational life and writings of Thomas Merton, stories from the Gospels, as well as the lives of other holy men and women (among them, Henri Nouwen, Therese of Lisieux and Pope John XXIII) the reader will see how becoming who you are, and becoming the person that God created, is a simple path to happiness, peace of mind and even sanctity.
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More About James Martin
James Martin, SJ, is associate editor of America magazine. A prolific author, writer, and editor, his books include My Life with the Saints, A Jesuit Off-Broadway, Searching for God at Ground Zero and In Good Company. He is the editor of Awake My Soul and Celebrating Good Liturgy. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Tablet, and Commonweal. Fr. Martin resides in New York City.
Reviews - What do customers think about Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other Saints (Christian Classics)?
Not one of Martin's best Dec 20, 2007
I'm afraid I have to agree with the reviewer who concludes that this little book isn't one of Martin's better works. I'm a great admirer of his My Life with the Saints (2007), and thought his coming-out memoir, In Good Company: The Fast Track from the Corporate World to Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience (2000), one of the best spiritual autobiographies of the last quarter century. But Becoming Who You Are is, alas, a bit of fluff.
The Mertonian (actually, it's quite ancient, but Merton made it famous in our day and time) distinction between "true" and "false" self is pretty well known and has been formulated and reformulated time and again. The false self is the persona we present to the world; the true self is who we are before God. We can be just as deceived about our true identity as others around us are deceived. The spiritual journey is to grow into an awareness of true self, because this necessarily means growing into an awareness of God as well.
In exploring the true self/false self distinction, Martin basically culls some quotes from Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and Mother Theresa and intersperses among them autobiographical reflections (these latter are actually what make the book interesting). But nothing new is said.
To be fair, perhaps the book is intended as an absolute primer for absolute beginners (after all, it grew, Martin tells us, from a popular lecture he gave in a NYC church), and so is bound to disappoint readers who have even a passing acquaintance with Merton or Nouwen. But I suspect that it also might be an example of yet one more book the world could've done without, but which the rising reputation of the author made marketable. Whichever the case, the book's back cover enthusiastic endorsements (all by people I immensely admire) seem---well, rather overdone.
Am I somebody--Not Just an old lady with Parkinson's? Nov 16, 2007
Almost 80! When you get to be my age, you need some ideas to get started on your inner journey and Thomas Merton has done that for me for 30 some years. Merton's concept of "the false self" proved to be the starting block for me; the mask I wore was not the physical one of Parkinson's Disease but one I had put on as a young girl who had to be "perfect" in everything. Admitting my sins and mistakes showed me "the false self" and turned out to be a life-giving grace as i shepherded 9 children through their teen years.
The author, James Martin, SJ took Merton's ability to write about his spirituality and, with vignettes from his own life, sent me on the right way. Martin has done a fine job.
Great for discussion Aug 27, 2007
Our scripture group is setting aside a half hour each week before our meetings to discuss each chapter of this book. Several members have already read it once and are eager to read it again so that we can talk about how it applies to each of us. I just can't say enough for Father James Martin--what a great, somewhat new, voice from the Jesuits to the "people in the pews."
great book Jun 12, 2007
great book, author was very honest and revealing about Thomas Merton and others. Only wished the book was longer.
Martin Fulfilling A Contractual Obligation To His Publisher? Jan 31, 2007
I loved "My Life With The Saints" and as a subscriber, enjoy Martin's writing in America Magazine. I am also a devotee of Thomas Merton's writing, and have read a majority of Merton's rather voluminous body of work. So I approached this little book expecting great things, and was left disappointed. Among other things, a fair percentage of this thin book simply re-uses writing from Martin's very popular book, "My Life With The Saints." Further, Martin's stated objective - to shed more light on Thomas Merton's concept of the false self versus the true self - was not accomplished. Frankly, I was left with the impression that Martin was simply fulfilling an obligation to his publisher when he tendered this manuscript. It does not rise to his usual level of writing excellence. For those who really want to explore Merton's approach to the emergence of the true self, I would suggest they instead buy a copy of James Finley's "Thomas Merton's Palace of Nowhere." Written nearly thirty years ago, it is still in print and full of insights Finley gleaned from studying under Merton as a novice in Merton's monestery, and as a practicing psychotherapist. But skip this volume.