Like many Christians of my generation (I'm in my mid 40s), my teen and college years were shaped in part by the worship music of John Michael Talbot. I wore out his albums (vinyl, of course!) from the 1980s both for general listening and for times of worship. At some point I heard that he had become Catholic and I didn't really follow his career after that. (This wasn't out of anti-Catholicism; it was mostly because the 1990s saw such a huge revival in worship music that there were tons of new bands and worship leaders to listen to.)
So I was interested in Talbot's new book, The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today. Talbot writes about how the Desert Fathers and Mothers "deeply influenced his spiritual, professional, and personal life." For those unfamiliar with Talbot's story, as I was, for the most part, The Ancient Path serves as a nice autobiography. I was interested to read about his life and the formation of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, the neo-monastic community he founded.
I was not as impressed with the selections and readings from the Church Fathers. As I read I had to keep in mind that the book is lessons that Talbot has gleaned from the Church Fathers for his life. That is, of course, the subject of the book. The goal of any spiritual biography is for the author to impart lessons he or she has learned to the readers. That is what Talbot does here, and he does it well. I guess I was looking for something a bit more systematic or generalized.
So, bottom line, read as a spiritual autobiography, written by someone who has studied and been influenced by the writings of the Church Fathers, The Ancient Path delivers. For many readers, it will serve as a springboard to inspire further exploration of the Church Fathers to see what lessons they have for us.
Thanks to Blogging for Books and Image for the complimentary review copy!