UK Christian Bookshops Directory: Christian Book Reviews: Detox Your Spiritual Life in 40 Days
Detox Your Spiritual Life in 40 Days Detox Your Spiritual Life in 40 Days

Peter Graystone
ISBN 1853116068 (9781853116063)
SCM-Canterbury Press, 2004

Category: Prayer, Poetry and Spirituality

If ever there was a book written for me, this is it. Peter Graystone writes in an easygoing style, down-to-earth but hitting on heaven, a practical spirituality that connects life and faith: if you follow through on his suggestions there's no doubt about it — you will "detox your spiritual life".

Perhaps the greatest accolade that I can give this book is simply this: it works. Of course, you have to work with it: there's no magic involved, unless it's the magic of rediscovering God's love. As I've worked my way through the book (and this despite a fairly lax approach to the detox principles each chapter offers) I've found myself praying more, becoming more alert spiritually, more aware of God's presence and, I think, more sensitive to those around me. Imagine the impact if I'd taken a more rigorous approach: I'd probably be in the line-up to be the next Pope!

As the title indicates, the book is divided into forty chapters for daily reading, making it an ideal Lent book (the period over which I read it), but the themes it explores are appropriate to any time of year: it isn't specifically tied in to the Easter season. Each chapter is 4 or 5 pages long, a 5 to 10 minute straight read, but you'll need longer than this, a good 20 minutes or so, to reflect on and respond to the readings. Six subsections give the book its structure:

  1. Detox your body
  2. Detox your standards
  3. Detox your past
  4. Detox your expectations
  5. Detox your relationships
  6. Detox your spiritual life

Within each chapter Peter relates experiences from his own life — sometimes mundane, sometimes bizarre, often hilarious — then links his experiences to a Bible reading. The Bible readings are included, magazine-style box-outs, along with quotes from other writers ranging from Augustine to Bonhoeffer, from Monica Furlong to Ignatius of Loyola.

The quotes are sometimes short and sharp, a slap in the face, sometimes longer, a pause for thought. It's a powerful mix that forces the reader to engage with the issues, not simply issues of personal spirituality but broader issues of poverty and injustice. This is connected spirituality, not pie-in-the-sky fantasy.

Each section ends with a 'detox' exercise and a short prayer. The exercises range from personal reflection through prayer to direct action, and I'm not going to steal the book's thunder by giving examples: if you've read this far, I'd say you're ready for the book. What are you waiting for??

Phil Groom, March 2005

Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.

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