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Book Review: “Aging with Vision, Hope and Courage in A Time of Crisis”

Aging with Vision, Hope and Courage in A Time of Crisis: Finding our way Together.
By John C. Robinson (Winchester UK and Washington DC, 2020)

Here’s a book uniquely aimed at today’s critical challenge. It comes from a writer with a long history of (pious but genuine) infatuation with Creation. And his devotion is deeply sensual. He wants us to praise and celebrate our real world’s sensuous joys–the sounds of frogs, smell of soils, chatter of birds, “awe in the presence of huge Redwoods.” Such intensely sensual pleasures spring from a full immersion in and commitment to the Creation around us.

John Robinson is the Author of many previous volumes, so listen up. He knows whereof he speaks and why he exults. His book is part of a new Resilience Series, created and formed with the goal of meeting our generation’s unique, viral challenge. Other titles in the series reflect its aims: aging with vision, growing stronger, handling anxiety and loss, and–particularly vital now–learning to communicate at a distance. The intensity of the mission is evident in the series editor’s reminder that all the authors agreed to produce their essays in 40 days, an effort that normally takes 18 months.

The vision that governs the series also drives Robinson. He recognizes that the coronavirus and other very threatening viruses (like Ebola and the Swine flu) “are the Earth’s way of trying to rid herself of the parasite that is killing her…US.” He views the virus as a crucial “clarion call”—a last-minute alert to us to modify our treatment of the earth. His exciting and varied twelve chapters range from some practical, hands-on therapies and self-help guides all the way to deliberations that are far more transcendent, indeed mystical.

Apt for a thinker who is bringing a fresh perspective to faith, Robinson identifies some “eternal values” that I consider purely human, purely social, purely here and now. The emotions and behaviors he values include “candor, empathy, love and understanding,” to which he adds our potential for “growth.” That’s a key noun: for us older folks, “aging is a new developmental stage.” He sees the extra years that many of us are living as simply an initiation that few earlier generations could ever conceive, much less experience. They offer us “a vision quest for a new self and new life.”

I was drawn to his chapter five, which he calls a “workbook for Resilience.” He offers a series of suggestions and urges us to “make a check mark beside the behaviors you already do and circle others that might be good for you.” What he’s putting us through here is a rigorous and demanding “boot camp.”

I see Robinson striving to create, in league with the other Resilience volumes, a series of communities, each inspired by the various members’ thoughts, insights and recommendations. Those disparate and widely spread visionary communities in turn make me think (pardon the leap, please) the fragmented unity we are seeing daily on our many screens–the large and growing grid of faces in small squares gathered by Zoom.

A particularly vital later chapter proposes some crucial and genuinely life changing roles for readers to consider. Among the seventeen on offer are “Climate Warrior,” “Contemplative,” and “Artist,” as well as “Healer” and “Skillful Builder for a Sustainable New World”. John Robinson, a demanding and imaginative activist, insists that “the labor and birth of a new human consciousness is more than a metaphor.” He goes on to elaborate that novel consciousness even more fully: “This intuition forecasts a breakthrough of cosmic consciousness, but this time, a profoundly feminine one, missing for centuries in the patriarchal worldview. Loving, maternal, inclusive, natural, non-competitive, and non-hierarchical, this crisis may be the collective blossom of our time.”
 

 
Resilience: Aging with Vision, Hope and Courage in a Time of Crisis
 
 
A journey into the wisdom, maturity, and resilience of age in a time of crisis. Writing on conscious aging, Dr. John Robinson, 74-year-old psychologist, minister, teacher and author, contributed his decades of experience to guiding the 65+ demographic through these tumultuous times. Click here for more information/purchase options.
 
 
John C. Robinson, Ph.D., D.Min.is a clinical psychologist with a second doctorate in ministry (studying with Matthew Fox at the University of Creation Spirituality), an ordained interfaith minister (the Chaplaincy Institute), the author of nine books and numerous articles on the psychology, spirituality and mysticism of the New Aging, and a frequent speaker at Conscious Aging Conferences across the country. You can learn more about John’s work at www.johnrobinson.org.
 
Jamie Spencer, a St. Louis native, is a retired high-school English teacher and community college professor. He has written book and music reviews for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and serves as a book reviewer for the Missouri Historical Society’s Gateway Magazine and Washington University’s A Common Reader. Modified Raptures is his first romantic novel. An earlier non-fiction book, Fictional Religion, is a set of essays that identify important religious themes to be found in great literature, from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Larkin and Faulkner. He lives in Missouri with his wife Anna Ahrens.

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