Jedidiah Appiah confesses to being restless by
nature and he has written a very effective book about restlessness from God’s
perspective, using examples of the men and women from scripture.
The Book of Genesis, where he begins,
is a wonderful collection of real human dramas and, if you haven’t read it,
then I can guarantee that within its pages you will find in abundance the
agonies we have all suffered, the mistakes we’ve all made, and the regrets
we’ve all had. In chapter 25 we meet Esau, brother of the wily Jacob (and a
note to secular readers: Jacob was the father of Joseph and the Amazing
Technicolour Dreamcoat). Appiah’s
book Restless is based around Esau; ‘You shall serve your
brother… but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.’
After that, and the transformative
journey so often found in scripture, Esau was blessed. ‘All restless
men and women had an encounter with God at a point in their lives,’ writes
Appiah, reminding us that words such as hovering, moving, striving,
stirring and rushing are applied to the Holy Spirit.
I need to make a distinction here between the
Fruits of the Holy Spirit itemized by St. Paul, which are peaceful and loving,
and the restlessness of the Spirit that motivates men and women to act. I don’t at all think the author is implying
that a contemplative life is a cop out, although the book may read at times as
if Biblical heroes are necessarily characterized by the power, energy and
restlessness they get from the Spirit. Appiah searches scripture for examples of
restlessness, finding them in Moses, St. Paul and even, at times, in Christ,
commenting that this was ‘a sign that the call of God was upon his life’.
I suppose it all
depends on one’s viewpoint. Sometimes I
didn’t agree with the interpretation the author places on the various passages
of scripture that I know quite well, but this doesn’t mean that his
interpretation and mine are at variance. He’s just looking at aspects of character and
circumstance in order to encourage his readers to ‘pursue God’, that is, in
order to be ‘like God’.
In : Book Reviews