Review: Talking to Spirits

The first time I ever heard of an “Unverified Personal Gnosis” or UPG, I was responding to a post on John Beckett‘s blog. After a little back and forth, I realized I needed to get to know a bit more about the term, as well as the underlying definitions – especially since it seemed to apply directly to me. Some short searching on Amazon’s website turned up the title: “Talking to the Spirits: Personal Gnosis in Pagan Religion” by Kenaz Filan & Raven Kaldera. The price was affordable as a Kindle book, so I downloaded it. And it sat on my reader for nearly a year before I finally started reading it.

The first two chapters satisfied my desire to understand the definitions surrounding the area of Personal Gnosis, as well as showcasing some of the differences between Verified and Unverified PG. But shortly after this, the book took a massive turn into the area of overkill. Concepts were presented which revolve around the area of VPG and UPG, particularly in trying to determine what was “real” and “correct” concerning the area of verification. Adding to this was the endless parade of material from other people on the various topics. I’m quite sure that this works for other folks, but for me it was quite the distraction. In fact, the material did nothing to answer questions, and only raised the question of why the authors had chosen to write the book this way. Until I came to the very last chapter of the book.

The Rocky Road to Intrafaith Dialogue” was honestly the meat that I needed to get. One particular passage has now been added to my little book of quotes:

Discussion involves an exchange of ideas and discourse about their ramifications. It may get intense, even heated at times, but this is fine so long as everyone remains respectful and the questions focus on ideas rather than individuals. Smiling, nodding, and saying “Everyone’s truths are true for them, and every belief is just as good as every other belief” is not interfaith discussion. Rather, it is a way of avoiding questions about the substance and foundation of your beliefs and about the level of your commitment. Instead of sparking conversation, it shuts it down or reduces it to polite superficialities.

This one little passage has me rethinking a particular part of the way I approach discussions about my beliefs with others. That the focus could be narrowed or widened as necessary. And its statements like this – throughout the book – which had me reading at a pace far slower than I am accustomed to. It took me nearly two months to finish reading this book. I kept putting it down, and thinking about what had just been presented to me.

If you are looking for a book that will not only challenge the way you think about beliefs of others, as well as challenge the way you approach discussing that particular touchy area of individual life – this is definitely the book for you. If you are wanting to find out more about the concept of Personal Gnosis, as well as understanding the differences between verified and unverified PG — this is definitely a good starting point. While others may appreciate the infusion of other perspectives from various individuals – I thought the book would have been far better without these interspersed throughout the chapters. Instead, I would have preferred these to have been confined to an Addendum of some sort, but that’s my personal preference.

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