Mondays with My Old Pastor
by José Luis Navajo
Thomas Nelson, 2012
“Old age is like climbing a large mountain. The higher you get, the more tired and breathless you become, but your sight becomes more free and the view more extensive and serene.”
—Ingmar Bergman as quoted in Mondays with My Old Pastor
José Luis Navajo is pastor from Madrid, Spain. He serves with passion and enthusiasm, but this was not always so. A few years ago he struggled with burnout and disillusionment—a common problem for clergy. To reignite his soul, he sought counsel from his 83-year-old former pastor.
The title Mondays with My Old Pastor is both a blessing and a curse for this book.
It blesses because it attracts readers seeking books like Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. It curses because this book disappoints by comparison to Albom’s work. Navajo is a pastor; Albom is a master of the writer’s craft. A pastor’s account of purpose re-found can’t match a storyteller’s tale of spirit and new life-purpose unearthed.
For that reason, this book is both brilliant and frustrating. The story moves back and forth between Navajo’s personal reflections on his circumstances and the old pastor’s wise counsel and stories. Navajo’s ruminations become tiresome, almost cloying. The old pastor, though, provides beautiful wisdom for clergy, struggling or not.
I wish this book were a novel.
As a novel, I could sink into it, suspend my disbelief and soak up the experience. Navajo writes about an unusual rose bush outside the pastor’s home. That is one incredible rose bush, and I mean incredible in the “hard to believe” sense. Some readers will find this inspiring, but for me it weakened the book. I have trouble believing it, and if I can’t believe that, how am I to believe the rest? In the author’s bio, we read that his wife’s name is Gene. Why then, is his wife’s name in the book “Mary”? It confuses me. Is this the true story of his journey, or not? I was distracted by wondering what was real and what was not; I couldn’t focus on enjoying the wonderful advice of the pastor.
And the pastor shares powerful stories, wisdom, insights, and advice.
He has climbed a high mountain. His sight is free and his view is extensive and serene. Some highlights:
“The secret of happiness is not in always doing what you want to do, but in always wanting to fo what you are doing.”
“. . . having to say something is not the same as having something to say.”
“Before you build a wall, make sure you know what you are keeping inside, and remember that you will leave things on the outside as well.”
Despite its narrative weaknesses, all clergy should buy this book and pull it off the shelf in times of self-doubt. The wisdom of the pastor could apply to others as well. Anyone struggling with stress or burnout could be replenished by this book.
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Posted on June 20, 2012, in Books provided by publishers, Non-fiction and tagged burnout, clergy, Ingmar Bergman, Jose Luis Navajo, life wisdom, literature, Mitch Albom, quotes, religion, spirituality, stress management, Tuesdays with Morrie. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.