05 September 2011

Seeking Silence in a Noisy World

Written by Published in Book Reviews

An area widely explored by books such as Abbot Christopher Jamison’s Finding Sanctuary, Anglican priest Adam Ford’s approaches for quelling the hubbub of modern life by seeking silence are various and eclectic.

Ford takes us on a whistle-stop tour of different religions, people and landscapes: from Buddhist meditation and Quaker silence to Christian hermits; from travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor and Thomas Merton, to the Australian outback and the Black Hills of New Mexico. He also appeals to the lover of nature, recommending the song of the nightingale, forest-bathing, observing the silent walking of elephants in Kenya and communing with trees, as methods towards achieving inner tranquillity. He even finds time to explore the darker side of nature – through Buddhist tales of demonology, Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness and the lonely fate of isolated prisoners of conscience. 

Ford is an advocate of mindfulness and meditation, and I expected as I read Seeking Silence to be cast into a cocoon of reflectiveness. However, the breadth of his eclecticism threatens also to be his downfall.Certain sections fall short in depth and seriousness of tone: there are no great gems here. This may be for those who like their spirituality on a pick-and-mix basis. For a general survey of silence’s various angles, Seeking Silence is adequate. But I couldn’t help concluding that Ford had spread himself rather thinly. The ‘Tree as a Counsellor’ section – recommending talking to trees for hour-long sessions – threatened to bring the entire subject into disrepute.

Seeking Silence in a Noisy World by Adam Ford (Leaping Hare Press) £7.99

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