What do I think of Rabbi Schneider’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
My wife has a lot of issues with fear being diagnosed with PTSD, and so when she saw this book, she wanted to get a copy of it. I always try to get a book for her so I complied and I think it has helped her out greatly. For that, I am grateful. She also wanted me to read it then. I have a constant fear of water which really affects us when we go to the pool where she’s swimming to be healthy. I never learned to swim and I think it’s due to going to the beach as a small child and being introduced to the undertow by surprise. A great fear of water came in then.
I decided to honor my wife’s request and go through the book then. I am thankful it helped her out, but for me, I just didn’t have the same result. While I appreciate Rabbi Schneider’s constant admonitions to not be afraid and that we need to put our trust in God, I found where this was being explained, that there was much that was lacking.
The problem for me is that so much of it was experience-oriented. I don’t mean in the sense of the idea that Schneider tried such and such technique specifically in response to a fear, but rather that he talked about his own personal experiences that could in no way be shared or experienced by most other people.
Namely, this happened in the accounts of dreams. I always get cautious when people seek to make a lot of dreams and it looks like Rabbi Schneider quite regularly thinks he has dreams that have a great symbolic meaning. Many of these dreams and their interpretations I found extremely lacking. I think a better look could have been given by leaving many of these dreams out.
One other reason is a great danger in that when Christians too often treat experiences like these as events that seem common, then baby Christians who do not have such experiences are prone to wonder “What is wrong with me?” A great mistake in the church is that we often promise blessings that Jesus Himself never promised us.
I also get cautious when people talk about wanting to experience God. The reason is that too often it can look like in the church that people are seeking after a feeling and if that feeling is there, well then God is there, and if the counter feeling is there, then God is not there.
I often think of that church sign that I have seen on some churches that says “If you feel far from God, guess who moved!” I hate a sign like that. For someone who might not feel something for whatever reason, they get added on to that a nice helping of guilt as well which makes the problem even worse. Have we considered the book of Job? Who was closer to the heart of God in that book? Job or his friends? Who got the blessing of God in the end? Job or his friends?
Sometimes in the Christian walk one will have a strong awareness and feeling of God. When that happens, wonderful! Enjoy it! Celebrate it! Sometimes, one will not. When that happens, your duty is to serve. Service to God does not depend on how you feel but rather an act of will. Anyone can serve God when life is going well and you feel great. It’s serving God when life is hard and you feel terrible and want to know if He’s even there that is the greatest service.
Also, I found some of the Scriptural exegesis lacking. For instance, the Jeremiah 29 passage of “I know the plans I have for you” is not about you. It is about Israel going into a seventy year exile period and God saying He is not done with them yet and will rescue them from the hand of the enemy so they can continue to fulfill the covenant. Too often we take promises that were made for Israel in a specific situation and generalize them and make them personal to us today.
While at the end, he does give a good collection of Bible verses, though some of these I think are out of context, I wish there had been more focus and detailed looking at various passages on fear. I was under the impression I was getting a little snippet here and there and not really going deep.
I don’t doubt this book will be helpful to some, but for me, the negatives were really too distracting over the positives.