REVIEW: Holy Land Devotional Booklet: A Spiritual Journey

Holy Land Devotional Booklet: A Spiritual JourneyHoly Land Devotional Booklet: A Spiritual Journey by United Methodist Church (U.S.)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Walking the reader through individual aspects of the Holy Land, the authors try to draw out spiritual principles and appropriate reflections. Focusing on a few areas of Palestine rather than many, it represents a great idea for walking the uninitiated through the path of the children of Israel into the Promised Land and their settled locales as a nation. The book goes far in achieving this purpose, but not quite far enough.

First, there is surprisingly little data as to the locations highlighted in the book. For example, while there is a map on page ii, Mt. Nebo and Petra, the focus of the first five devotionals, are not marked on it or anywhere else. Jerusalem appears on that early map, but no map or diagram directs readers to the locations of the nine devotionals dedicated to the city. Illustrations accompany each devotional but vary in ability to help readers visualize each of the devotional places. While each devotional contains helpful background information, readers will need to consult outside maps and other helps to firmly fix this walkthough in their minds.

Second, the devotionals themselves leave much to be desired. While one may argue that would be the case in all devotionals, these fall short in particular areas. First, the reader is left wondering is some of the spiritual applications drawn from geographic considerations might be a bit of a stretch (though some are spot on). Second, an interfaith prayer from the inter-religious Fellowship for Reconciliation resides on page 25, after, on the previous page, the author indicates that Christians, Jews, and Muslims worship the same God. Third, page 57 features a positive comment toward process theology and content theology, though not much exposition exists here as to why these are helpful. As such, the spiritual value of these devotionals are varied at best with some questionable content.

Overall, Holy Land Devotional Booklet is a great idea, but it could have been so much more without sacrificing its brevity. It may be useful for someone who is already maturing in the faith, or for a young believer who is being discipled by someone familiar with all these issues. I would not recommend it for a young believer to read on his own.

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