What do I think of Ana Smiljanic’s book published by St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
This book is the collected wisdom of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica. He never wrote them down, but his students and others apparently gathered them together. This is a work at what in psychology today would be called cognitive behavioral therapy. The idea is that what you think has intense power over you. Thaddeus would add a spiritual element that most secular psychologists wouldn’t, but that’s not a shock from a Christian worldview.
While I do come from a Protestant perspective, this has been one of the most helpful books I have read. I think CBT is already great, but it’s even better when used from a Christian perspective that focuses on eternal realities. That is what Thaddeus gives us in the book. He urges us to look at the way we think about ourselves, about God, and about our fellow man.
Sometimes when I am going through a hard time, I talk to a good friend who knows this technique well and he encourages me to write down good thoughts to tell myself on a 3×5 index card. It might sound silly, but usually after I write it down, it helps. I then carry the card around with me and look at it throughout the day.
Much of our days are often spent thinking about things we cannot control. We think about other people and how they treat us. We spend less time thinking about how we treat them. We think about our situations often as if God does not exist or if He does exist, He’s not really good and working for our good.
When we have these negative thoughts, there are physical and other side-effects with it. How many of us have had intense stomach aches or sleepless nights just because of our thoughts? How many of us have had relationship issues because of what we think about the other person even when we later see it’s far from the truth?
Thaddeus covers topics like family life and repentance and prayer and love. Most any aspect of the Christian life is in this book. Sometimes, I think he thinks our thoughts have too much power on reality, but for the most part, there is really good material in here.
The chapters are really easy to read. You can just read the one that you want and go through it quickly. Each chapter is also divided numerically into smaller bits so you can read one thought a day or so before heading out on your day.
As I was going through this book, I found myself trying to catch myself in what I was thinking. Am I thinking ill of my fellow man? That is not doing him any harm and it is only doing me harm. Am I assuming reality is going to be horrible? Then I am saying that God does not really care about me like He claims to. I tried to work to see my fellow man in a new light and try to understand where he was coming from even if what he was doing seemed horrible to me. I tried to see how God could be working in my life in ways I couldn’t understand.
Protestant readers might not care for references to praying to Mary and matters like that, but if a Protestant decides that will keep him from reading the book, he is really missing out. This is a book I wish more of us would read. I think even an atheist could get something out of the book as well even though he disagrees with the Christian side.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)