I had the great pleasure of reading Steve McSwain’s new book The Enoch Factor over the past month. It took me the entire month to read it because it is the kind of book I like to digest slowly. In The Enoch Factor, McSwain, a lifetime Christian and professional minister, chronicles his personal spiritual awakening out of fundamentalism and into the arms of Christ. He tells a story of growing up in a believing family that will sound familiar to many American Christians, in its spirit if not in its exact details. He also describes the flatness and emptyness he experienced in his “faith,” and offers some candid appraisals of some of the false beliefs he carried with him for decades. McSwain then details the transformational experience that brought him a spiritual awakening. He spends some time explaining his new spiritual perspective, inviting readers to glean what they can from his personal experience and understanding.
At his best, McSwain reminds me of Richard Rohr – clear, insightful, and creative in his use of material from non-Christian traditions. Though McSwain anchors himself solidly in the Christian tradition, he draws from a variety of sources, Christian, non-Christian, and non-theological, to give voice to his experience of the divine. I was with him when he stuck to theological ideas from Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, and even atheism (he quotes Andre Comte-Sponville a lot). To a lesser extent, I was also with him when he was discussing the concept of ego, although the language he was using there was less familiar to me. He lost me when he started talking about the Law of Attraction, but like all conversions, McSwain’s was highly personal, and we all have some eccentricities in the way we try to explain those experiences. The genuine-ness of McSwain’s encounter shines through the book, and I recognized a lot of my own journey in his. He asked a lot of the questions I’ve asked, and he reminded me how easy it is to be with God, something I was having trouble remembering in my current process of wrestling with church. Even with the moments of (for me) theological weirdness, we could use more spiritual memoirs like this one.
Also, I got a free book in exchange for writing this review, which was not required to be a positive review. Here’s the legal way of saying it:
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.