I was truly hoping to like
this book. I am a fan of the business parable genre as well as using modern day
parables to teach. The Book of the Shepherd sounded like it might deliver a
parable that would affect the way we live.
I quickly glanced at the
book and checked out the jacket credits and thought, “hmm.” Paulo Coelho,
author of “The Alchemist” endorsed it as did James Redfield (author of The
Celestine Prophecy) and even Meredith Vieira (co-host of the Today Show).
The jacket credits,
interestingly enough, had no Christian endorsement. I am not a person who
limits his reading, believing there is something I can learn from everyone, so
I sat down and began reading the smallish book published by Harper Collins.
In a nutshell…an ancient
book is discovered in the house of deceased Professor Orlando Roberts. The new
owner of his house, Joan Davis, finds the ancient scroll and has it translated.
The vellum describes a “New Way” of living, and the journey begins.
The story begins in a small
village where three events transpire that set the book in motion. A young boy
is abused by his father; a shepherd decides to intervene in the domestic
situation, and the young boys sister becomes guardian and is removed from her
home with her little brother. The set-up is a world without grace.
The book moves quickly
through very short chapters as the three travelers are introduced to various
people who have a truth to instill and directions for the next leg of their
journey to help them find a scroll that will reveal this new way of life.
There was never a moment for
me in this fabolic-quest book that I said, “Wow, that was powerful.” The
character development was shallow at best and never really drew me into the
story. At times I thought, “Okay, now maybe we will strike some gold, but alas,
it was always fools gold.
With each new chapter there
was hope for something profound to be spoken or said or revealed, but it never
happened. I felt like the author was trying to write an Alchemistic-esk book,
but fell far short of it on both the content, and the writing.
“The book has no teeth” was the phrase that keep going through my mind…and
then I noted that most of the spiritual maxims that the author brought in were
from Gnostic sources (The Gospel of Thomas), or other New Age writers. The
author wove the Golden Rule (treating others the way you would want to be
treated, reciprocity), with Gandhi’s, “Be the change you want to see”. With
these tow thoughts combined, the author creates a “New Way” for us to journey
on and calls this new way “The Law of Sacrifice.”
The Law of Sacrifice moves
us from the mantra of the Old Testament: An eye for an eye: to the new path of
loving our neighbor as our self. The author garners her concept for the new way
by adapting St. Francis of
Assisi’s’ “Peace Prayer” and calls that the Law of Substitution.
I love that prayer, my only
wish is that the author would not have changed it, and then given Francis
credit for writing it.
So, save your money. This is
a weak book. Better yet, go and buy a book about St. Francis of Assisi and be
challenged to live a life devoted to the betterment of each other…I’m sure that
will have more teeth than this book!