Sitting with Spirits Book Review
I recently read a fascinating little book called Sitting with Spirits: Exploring the Unseen World in the Margins of Christianity by Bob Doto.
The premise: What would it look like for us to learn to possibly hear, and learn from, and grow, when we interact with spirits; especially the Holy Spirit?
In the author’s words, the book is his attempt “to show that having a relationship with the world of spirits is not only possible within the Catholic and Christian traditions, but also inherent….this short work explores the concepts of both “spirit” and “spirit work through the lens of biblical hermeneutics, magical and mindfulness practices, shadow work, and self-inquiry.”
What Is Spirit?
The book is full of deep explorations of spiritual, religious, and psychological themes that make a lot of common sense. They may resonate with you if you are a person who is open to out-of-the-box ideas about spirituality and religion.
Bringing Together Two Perspectives
Doto writes in a sweet spot bringing delicately balanced insight into core aspects of traditional Christianity and modern non-institutional spirituality. He melds these two perspectives and provides a comprehensive context for people who identify as Christian to be open to a more tangible understanding of how spirits interact with the physical world.
Modern American white Christianity and Catholicsm sometimes seems oblivious to the rich cultural traditions that have permeated the faith experience of Christian people living in other parts of the world. These experiences of indigenous, folk, and shamanic worship from numerous eastern and western countries have a distinct place for ancestors, benevolent and evil spirits, and other mysteries beyond our physical world. This book references a variety of different traditions in an attempt to broaden our scope and understanding of the inner and outer unseen worlds.
The Holy Spirit Teaches About the Spirit World
One of the more interesting chapters was about the Holy Spirit. Doto describes using the Bible as a guidebook, a literal “spirit” manual, to become familiar with examples of how the Spirit engages with early Christian followers and mystics. He then uses each of the GIfts of the Spirit as a lens to inform how to perceive and interact with the world and the spirits who are an integral part of it.
In Sitting with Spirits, Doto weaves together a thoughtful historical, religious and social analysis of how and why to attune to spirits within our world. The joyful manifesto at the end of the book sums up his perspective nicely. He encourages us to engage with curiousity in the roots of our religion and reclaim access to the entirety of the Christian tradition with all its mystical experiences, ritual, and mystery.
Reading this book will give you much to reflect upon.
Disclosure of Material Connection
I received the Sitting with Spirits book free through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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Praise for Sitting with Spirits
“Doto draws from years of study and practice at the margins, to distill the beauty of spirit and spirit work into an easily digestible, exciting and inspiring read. He explores the history of the Christ tradition and its texts to unearth a fresh perspective on what it is to be ‘spiritual’ and engage the unseen world. It is a mind and heart opening book. Whether you’ve been burned by Christianity, if you’ve been a devout practitioner your whole life, if you’re looking to start a spiritual practice but don't know where to begin or if you’ve ever wondered ‘What the Hell Am I’ (an actual subsection in chapter 5) you’ll find something meaningful, new and powerful in this book.”
“I loved this book. It’s a wonderful and much-needed take on how spirits and spirit work function from the point a few different perspectives: biblical, psychological, and spiritist/spiritualist. I was particularly impressed with how deep the book gets in such a short time (only 136 pages). Peppered with personal stories, this book also contains a short manifesto at the end on ‘Reclaiming Your Root Religion,’ as well as a chaplet for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
“What I love about Sitting with Spirits, and Bob Doto’s writing on Christianity in general, is the sincere depth of research, presented in an unpretentious yet educational format. Bob digs into the meaningful roots of Christianity, free from spiritual materialism, and presents a concise examination (both theoretical and experiential) on what it means to be ‘spiritual,’ or in communion with god/energy/spirits.”
About the Author
Bob Doto is a writer and speaker on the intersection of spiritual margins and society. He is host of the Wild Christianity Salon, the creator of the anarcho-folk Catholic zine, Babylon Begone, and is a founding member of renegade yoga blog, The Babarazzi. Bob is a licensed massage therapist specializing in Chinese Tui Na massage, acupressure, and sports medicine. He is the founder of the Ditmas Park Yoga Society where he teaches yoga in the Mysore tradition, and also maintains his private massage practice. He is a faculty member at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Manhattan teaching Chinese massage therapy with a focus on hand techniques, structural pathologies, and internal disharmonies.
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The Soul Care Book Club brings like-minded people together in a brave space to discover, grow, and explore our relationship with the Divine and our inner selves through reading. We meet monthly to read books about all kinds of topics concerning religion and spirituality and have real conversations to build authentic community with one another. We welcome anyone who wants to join us to dialogue, discuss, support, and encourage one another in wrestling with new ideas. You can engage a lot or a little—it's totally up to you.