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Book Review: Uncommon Sense

In Uncommon Sense: Reclaiming Humanity, White offers a manual of homespun wisdom leading the reader along a pathway to health and wholeness, as an alternative to the ways of the world.

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Book Review: Uncommon Sense

by Geoffrey Lilburne

John G White, Uncommon Sense: Reclaiming Humanity (Coventry Press, 2019)

In an age when it is ‘common sense’ to promise much and deliver little, here is a book that does the opposite, delivering much while maintaining a modesty of promise and a down to earth voice. This kind of reversal is grist for John G White’s mill.

In Uncommon Sense: Reclaiming Humanity, White offers a manual of homespun wisdom leading the reader along a pathway to health and wholeness, as an alternative to the ways of the world.

At some points the wisdom of this book is reminiscent of that of Wendell Berry, whose Home Economics works out many similar themes in a North American setting. White writes out his Western Australian life experience and work as a psychotherapist and friend and counsellor of prisoners.

He knows the ropes, and speaks with a voice that each reader will come to trust, as genuine, honest and reliable. At times, the distinctions presented seem too absolute when a richer nuance is needed. Thus, to see the human person as faced with a straightforward choice to follow “ego” or “spirit” is not always helpful when confronting complex mental illness, such as depression.

The book is comprehensive primer in the perennial wisdom of the spirit, which the author counter-poises to the faddish and self-serving ways of the ego. It is organised into three broad sections:

  1. Foundations of our Humanity
  2. Relating to ourselves and others, and
  3. Society’s Organisation and beyond.

Written in easy bite-size chunks, the author offers summaries of key points at the end of each section. I can see this book being used by individuals seeking a richer fuller way of life, and groups who wish to explore together the dimensions of the human spirit and the ways of spirituality. I commend it to all readers.

Geoffrey Lilburne is a theologian and poet, whose most recent book, Joy Interrupted: A Memoir of Depression and Prayer is published by Coventry Press. He is a Uniting Church Minister of the Word and enthusiastic farmer in the Chittering Valley.

Uncommon Sense, Reclaiming Humanity is available from St John’s Books Fremantle RRP $34.95 books@stjohnsbooks.com.au (08) 9335 1982

Published in Messenger, October 2019


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