In exchange for an honest review, I received a copy of Deliberate Acts of Kindness: A Field Guide to Service as Spiritual Practice by Meredith Gould.
This review was originally written for RevGalBlogPals and posted on 3/30/17.
- Spiritual depth- The book sincerely covers a breadth of spiritual and religious practices and how service is a component of each of them. The language and telos of each practice remains throughout the book, rather than only appearing in the introduction.
- Reality- The book is honest about what a person faces when deciding to pursue serving a community, both internally and externally. (For example, is a fluttery stomach a sign of excitement about good things to come or a discernment tool for a bad fit?)
- Tips and Tools- There are myriad helpful thoughts in this book, useful for discernment for people inside and outside of spiritual communities, churches, or already established social organizations. In addition to assessment tools, the contemplative writing prompts are great for all kinds of discernment. I nearly stopped reading to do the one on “Illuminating the Shadow” for myself (and I will probably do it after I finish this review).
- Quick read- This is a fairly short book, but that’s how it packs its punch. The text is arranged in an easy-to-follow format and the writing has been edited to be exactly what the book promises. This is, then, truly a field guide- with a “just the facts, ma’am” approach. That said, its spareness undergirds its usefulness, rather than taking away from it.
- This is an updated reprint of a book that was first published in 2002. That said, the book frequently uses a light/dark dichotomy when referencing healing/hurting or positive/negative. It also references mother/father language when talking about issues a person might face when the term “parent” would suffice. Sensitivity around word usage has increased in the past 15 years. This is not an indicator of political correctness, but a broader realization of how language is part of social welcome and inclusion (or their opposites).
- This book is not inexpensive, despite being a small book. Take the moral high road and order from the independent publisher, Clear Faith Publishing. The book is $18 for the paperback everywhere. That being said, I sincerely doubt the author is getting rich off the sales. (Writing is NOT a get-rich-quick plan.) The book is very useful and I could envision having one or two copies to loan to people who ask about what kinds of service opportunities I can recommend for them or their families.
- No electronic edition at this time.
All in all, this is a helpful read for the person who feels overwhelmed by present circumstances (political, social, global, environmental) and needs guidance toward feeling useful. Deliberate Acts of Kindness is particularly suited to that type of discernment.
Also recommended by this author: Desperately Seeking Spirituality