Cover image for The mirror of God : Christian faith as spiritual practice, lessons from Buddhism and psychotherapy
The mirror of God : Christian faith as spiritual practice, lessons from Buddhism and psychotherapy
Jones, James William, 1943-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Palgrave Macmillan, [2003]

Physical Description:
184 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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BV4501.3 .J65 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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What are the benefits of being a spiritual person? This is the question that James Jones explores in his newest book, The Mirror of God . Jones contends that true religious belief is not a passive process and that one must work hard towards believing in God through acts such as prayer, meditation and communal worship. He explores the boundaries between psychotherapy and religious practice, looks at what Christians might learn from Buddhists and shows their effects on the body and mind. Jones is a psychologist as well as a professor of religion and, ultimately, he provides a blueprint for worship that's smart, effective and grounded in the real lives we all live.

Author Notes

James W. Jones is professor of religion and adjunct professor of clinical psychology at Rutgers University and a visiting professor in religion and psychiatry at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The road to physical, spiritual, and psychological health may be paved with such practices as meditation, prayer, and attendance at Sunday services. That is, act as if you believe, and not only will you eventually believe, but you will also feel better during the process. Discipline, says Episcopal priest and psychologist Jones, is what brings people into contact with their primal experiences, contact that, in turn, contributes to overall good health. He notes studies finding that religious practice for its own sake is associated with lower levels of psychological distress and reductions in anxiety and depression. He knows whereof he speaks, since he often addresses in his clinical practice issues that once fell within the purview of priests and rabbis. Emphasizing that spirituality is one way people define themselves, Jones uniquely blends his experience as clinical psychologist, Christian clergyman, and student of Buddhism to compellingly affirm the interdependence of mind, body, and spirit. --Donna Chavez Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Jones's newest offering is a paradox: a theoretical book about the benefits of religious practice, particularly those practices that promote a mystical encounter with God. Clinical psychologist, religion professor and author of 10 books, Jones draws on his two disciplines, religion and psychology, to argue that the practice of faith, not the content of one's beliefs, is what makes for a faith-filled life. The practices of prayer, meditation, worship and other disciplines are also the tools for personal transformation-what Jones calls the development of "spiritual selfhood"-and healthier, saner living. But he emphasizes that the awareness of and relationship to God that religious faith promotes must be the end sought, not better health or some other extrinsic purpose. Jones's comparative religions background produces an interesting chapter comparing Jesus Christ as "Anointed One" and Buddha as "Awakened One," two different paths taken and taught in response to human suffering. He also unpacks nuances in tracing the development over time of the Buddhist teaching of emptiness and its relationship to the logos (Word) of the Christian Gospel of John. Some parts of the book aren't as fresh (there's yet another critique of cultural materialism) while others report growing, empirically based understanding of the relationship between religion and health. Jones's dogged insistence that faith is nothing without patient, persistent practice is ultimately modest and a welcome report from the fields of religious, and clinical, practice. (Nov. 19) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. vii
Introductionp. 1
Chapter 1 Faith as Practicep. 9
Chapter 2 The Paradoxical Presence Encountering Godp. 37
Chapter 3 The Cross-Legged Buddha and the Cross-Stricken Christp. 59
Chapter 4 Christian Spirituality and Modern Society Spiritual Practice as Cultural Critiquep. 95
Chapter 5 Autobiographical Interlude The Criticism of Criticism is the Beginning of Religionp. 121
Chapter 6 Spiritual Selfhood Spiritual Practices and Everyday Lifep. 141
Chapter 7 The Mirror of God Coping and Transformationp. 155
Epiloguep. 173
Bibliographical Essayp. 175
Indexp. 183