Laura Reece HOGAN. I live, No Longer I: Paul’s Spirituality of Suffering, Transformation, and Joy. Wipf & Stock, Eugene, Oregon. 2017, pp. xx, 151. ISBN 978-1-5326-0107-1. Reviewed by Christopher RUPERT S.J., LaStorta Jesuit Residence, 2320 Liverpool Rd., Pickering, ON L1X 1V4.

 

For any God-seeker, I Live, No Longer I:  Paul’s Spirituality of Suffering, Transformation, and Joy by Laura Hogan is an enjoyable masterwork. Laura Hogan’s close reading of Galatians 2.6-11, Paul’s Christ hymn, lays bare the map to internal happiness that Paul discovered when he converted to Christ, and the map used by spiritual giants from Isaiah to the present. Hogan shows how the classic formula to achieve union with God, ‘purgation, illumination, and unison’ was reframed by Paul as he encountered Christ to kenosis, enosis, theosis (emptying, refilling, oneness with the divine). Hogan’s contribution is the use of these terms to better describe Paul’s experiences in growing toward godliness. It is a pattern to use whenever and wherever a person’s route to Godliness is derailed, in trouble, or experiencing new knowledge. Each of its three phases: kenosis, enosis, and theosis, she notes, may operate in sequence, in tandem, or separately and with one or more events simultaneously.

Paul’s response to traumatic setbacks and hostility through copying Christ’s route to the Father becomes attractive and achievable with Laura’s help. Some current psychologists who have studied persons who have successfully passed unscathed through such events label this ‘post-traumatic growth.’ Hogan’s study of the saints, holy people, past and present, and her own experiences gently show the reader how to achieve this despite any circumstance. The mimesis of Christ facing down life’s problems speaks for itself. Hogan calls this unspoken message ‘logophasic.’ Serenity in the midst of trauma is a gift available to all. Laura’s ‘proof is in the pudding’ approach makes the Christo-mimetic route both bearable and imitable.

ILNL contains seven chapters: Decentering and the Divine Presence; perspective adjustment to the Paradox of the Cross; A map left behind the Living pattern of the Christ Hymn; the Mark of the Messiah: the Living Christ patters in Paul; Messiah Expressed, the Living Christ pattern in the Many; Targets to Arrows: Divine Transformation; Fitted to the Bow: Paul’s Joy; and Conclusion, I live, no Longer I. Finally there is an excellent nine page bibliography of works cited, references, and previous and current scholarship.

ILNLI merits five stars out of five for ease of comprehension, presentation, value in daily life, scholarship, empirical experience, thoroughness, lucidity, and enjoyability. The invited reviewers’ reports reprinted on the books cover, its foreword by Donald Senior, and its preface’s author, Ruth Burrows, glow. Wilkie Au states, “This inspiring text… provides a message of hope and consolation … as we confront the inevitable suffering of human life.” Peter Tyler finds its language “clear and accessible.” For Peter Gorman it is “a moving invitation to a joyful life.” Thomas Rausch declares it “theologically sophisticated.”  Donald Senior notes its focus is on ”what Paul’s theology means now.” Finally, Ruth Burrows calls it “a work of light, love, and deep conviction …  because with the mind of Christ … the bitterest grief … can be shot through with joy.” To each of these plaudits, I add “Amen.

ILNLI is a modern classic. I find Hogan, a lay Carmelite, an easier and more enjoyable read than her Carmelite predecessors, John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. Happy reading.