Book Description: **Literary Titan Silver Book Award
**5-stars from Reader’s Favorite
**Honorable Mention at San Francisco Book Festival
In These Dry Bones, award winning author Dr. Josh R. Ritter weaves together wisdom teachings and philosophical insights from Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism to explore the beatitudes through the lens of the wisdom tradition. On this creative journey into the heart of the beatitudes, he offers spiritual and wisdom-oriented insights, and he presents us with many different and differing theological interpretations of the beatitudes and other pieces of the biblical narrative.
The beatitudes, Ritter suggests, are often misunderstood and even ignored because they seem to defy clear interpretation, and of course, they do defy interpretation. This is intentional, he says, because the beatitudes are Christian koans. Koans are short, paradoxical teachings intended to bring the hearer out of their “logical” mind and into something deeper, an experience with reality as it is. Koans are most often associated with certain lineages of Zen Buddhist teaching, but Jewish rabbis also often present their listeners with paradoxical sayings (midrash aggadah), often called parables, to challenge their audience to engage in deeper understandings of God.
Through the lens of the spiritual imagination, Ritter explores, re-imagines, and reframes various ways to interpret the beatitudes as a type of eight-fold path of spiritual development. His reflections on the beatitudes use multiple writing styles and span multiple years of writing, practice, and research. What he reveals to us is that the true beauty of the beatitudes is their openness to rich interpretations and deep wisdom. Just as Jesus understood scripture as a deep and living well of beauty and wisdom, this book approaches the beatitudes with the same understanding.
Within Judaism, it is often said that there are 70 faces of Torah, which means that there is endless, rich, deep, meaning through multiple perspectives and interpretations. This means that for Jesus (and for any rabbi) there is simply no such thing as “one, real” meaning of scripture. Each time we come to the text it refracts something new, some new insight, some new deep truth, just as a prism refracts the light of the sun. These Dry Bones is a creative journey of imagination and wisdom into the prism of the beatitudes.
From inside the book:
The beatitudes are teachings on blessedness and happiness, but they are not demands to achieve “happiness.” Our societies teach us we must pursue an infinite demand to “enjoy” and to be “happy” at all costs, but the good news of the beatitudes is that this is a delusion. Our societies teach us that we must pursue a future idealized version of ourselves, but the good news of the beatitudes is that this future “perfect” self is an illusion.
Instead, the happiness the beatitudes teach us is that we are accepted unconditionally – in our anxiety, in our depression, in our feelings of worthlessness, in our fear, in our shame – and their message is not to achieve wholeness but to accept our own deep belonging in God. The beatitudes remind us that true happiness comes when we put down the burden of our own frenzy to achieve and to consume. We have forgotten that our nature is not to be consumers, and the remembrance of our sacredness comes when we release the encumberment of this forgetfulness.
Category: Religious Non-Fiction (General)