Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Madam Guyon

OK, admittedly I read this book specifically for a project. I have had Madam Guyon's translated autobiography for years and years, having heard it was really good. Wrong! This was painful to read. She is so abused by just about everyone in her life. But she twists this abuse (crosses as she calls them) into the bases of a spirituality. So much so that while I'm with her on in some of the inner life - it is hard to distinguish what is the product of an imagination warped by glorifying her pain and suffering and that which is genuine mercy. Sometimes it is clear that she is spinning the situation - especially in the accounts of faltering conversions. But other times you are left wondering what the rest of the story really is. I have no doubt thought that this is how she sees the story - otherwise she would have been more careful with her words.

What really disturbs me is that the book jacket makes these insane promises about the contents: it will teach you have to deal with adversity, how to be a mature christian, blah blah blah. Bull. It is the story of how one woman copes with incredible abuse. How a brilliant mind denies the very mind that God gave her (and still it shines through at odd moments, likely what inspired Fenelon so much) because her ideal is to be the dumb servant, abused because it was "God's pleasure" to do so??? Guyon does not teach us to be mature, but to have a twisted view of God. In this she is a product of her times - at once resisting the enlightenment and also thrusting forward into an enlightenment mode of actualizing her faith. This book is a confusing tragedy and not a model of any sort of healthy spirituality.

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