Monday, August 31, 2015

Book Review: Unbound

The stack of books I'm trying to read is much larger than what my calendar allows for. When I do actually finish a book though, I want to use the blog to tell you what I thought about it. I'm happy to lend this or any other book in my library if you live near me and don't look like a hooligan.

I was assigned to read Unbound: A Practical Guide to Deliverance in preparation for quarterly new priest meetings I attend. While we didn't actually discuss the book at the meetings, I'm glad I read it.

Unbound is a book about deliverance ministry, the first half is about being delivered from evil and oppressive spirits and the second half is about helping others to do the same. Neal Lozano is Catholic, but that doesn't figure hugely in the book, I assume because he wants to appeal to a wider audience.

The book was alright. Lozano rightly teaches that the spiritual world influences us and that we can influence the spiritual world. Through the trauma we experience in our lives or the choices we make, we open doorways for the devil to influence us in ways we may not notice for years. But as baptized Christians we really do have power in Jesus's name to ban Satan's influence from our lives.

I had three identifiable issues with the book. Firstly, Lozano hit on the importance of confession in ridding yourself of Satan's influence, but he wouldn't clarify what that meant, whether a sacrament or just telling someone else your sorry for your sins. If Lozano is Catholic, I would appreciate a recognition of the power of the Sacraments.

Secondly, a book that bills itself as a "practical guide" to dealing with supernatural and otherworldly phenomena can cause a person to see demonic influence around every corner. In reality, a lot of things that we might call demonic are psychological illnesses, or just plain old human weakness leading to sin. I heard a talk by a former exorcist several months ago. He told us that whenever he would investigate someone who might benefit from an exorcism, he would always have a psychologist with him who could help distinguish mental illness from true possession. That seems much more balanced than a do-it-yourself guide to deliverance.

And thirdly, I worry that a "practical guide" could discourage people from referring when they need to. True possession almost always requires the involvement of Christ's priests and the communion of saints, most preeminently the Blessed Virgin Mary and Michael the Archangel.

Overall, it was an ok book. The first several chapters, not quite the first half, were good, and then it became less helpful. We need to recognize that as baptized Christians we do indeed have influence in the spiritual realm, but always in humility. We don't want to think that a practical guide to deliverance will give us all the answers.

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