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Finding the Stillpoint: A Spiritual Response to Stress

by Tom Harpur

In Finding the Stillpoint, religious commentator Tom Harpur ostensibly tackles the subject of meditation and stress relief, but Harpur can’t resist mounting his favourite hobby horse: “the great need to make the foundation of faith square honestly with modern thinking.” Harpur recommends meditation techniques borrowed from Deepak Chopra, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and other New Age luminaries, but devotes far too many pages to the proposition that, in the words of his fellow gadfly John Shelby Spong, Christianity must change or die.

Christ’s death and resurrection, Harpur opines, “is never going to make it in a modern worldview where science plays so great a part. It may have worked for our parents and earlier ancestors…. But that time is long ago and we have moved on.” Oddly enough, for a man whose favourite word is “modern,” Harpur’s work here reveals a distinctly unmodern fellow who apparently lives in a world without television, movies, popular music, or the Internet. His self-described life of writing, reading, and lecturing resembles that of a donnish Edwardian vicar; a less modern, less stressful existence can scarcely be imagined.

Harpur is so smug in his views that he can’t resist correcting the Dalai Lama’s grammar, and declares that Mother Teresa needed Prozac. “What a great pity that her doctors failed to diagnose her obvious depression,” sniffs (non-physician) Harpur, with the chilling condescension that characterizes the book’s prose.

Harpur’s insatiable fans will happily snap up Finding the Stillpoint. Those who number themselves among the unfashionably faithful – or those just looking for genuine spiritual responses to the maladies of modern living – may find this book stirs up more stress than it cures.