Thursday, August 05, 2010

Fearless Relationships

TITLE: Fearless Relationships - simple rules for lifelong contentment
AUTHOR: Karen Casey
PUBLISHED: MN: Hazelden, 2003.

Fearless Relationships: Simple Rules for Lifelong ContentmentSimply put, this book is about building up relationships that is free from fear. Author Karen Casey became interested in the area of relationships after getting out of addiction herself. Her background gave her a keen insight and interest into what hinders and what helps any relationship. Combining her wisdom in 33 short chapters, Casey believes that the key to healing the world is via the healing of personal relationships. Each chapter ends with a series of practical steps to achieve the particular rule of relationships. Called 'touch points,' it gives the reader an opportunity to immediately practice the chapter's lessons.

Below are the 'rules' for developing fearless relationships.

The 33 Rules
  1. Seek to understand every situation from a fresh perspective;
  2. Be kind no matter what;
  3. Listen, Then comment if necessary;
  4. Pray for understanding of others;
  5. Every person we meet is a learning partner;
  6. Our lessons will be repeated until we learn them;
  7. Every argument is about fear;
  8. Struggles are opportunities in disguise;
  9. Every resolution is a loving act;
  10. Make every response gentle;
  11. We must heal the issues that derail us;
  12. Be humble and honest;
  13. Avoid judging others;
  14. Begin each day by asking, what can I bring to my relationships?
  15. Start your day with God;
  16. Choose once again
  17. Always ask, would I rather be peaceful or right?
  18. Chance plays no part in our lives
  19. Every encounter expresses love or fear
  20. When in conflict, seek a shift in perspective
  21. Interpretations determine feelings
  22. Every encounter is holy
  23. No relationship is accidental
  24. To surrender is to know peace
  25. Love may fail but courtesy may prevail
  26. In isolation, the Spirit dies
  27. Forgiveness is the key to happiness
  28. Honor your relationships every day in tiny ways
  29. Detach with love
  30. Wherever two are gathered, a Third is present
  31. Relationships are why we are here
  32. Don't try to change the other person
  33. Do no harm.
My Comments
This book is a typical easy-to-read self-help book on interpersonal relationships. The tips are simple and easily understood. It is highly practical with lots of suggestions on how to make relationships work. Unfortunately, the theological underpinnings appear rather new age and incorporates different spiritual sources. Not all of them are biblical based, though some like #30 reflects a New Testament teaching of Jesus' presence in the midst of 2-3 people. I believe Casey's book is closer to Marianne Williamson's kind of spirituality where both are highly influenced by the self-study spiritualist book on inner peace: Course on Miracles.

Some other rules like#25 goes against conventional wisdom about love being the greatest, choosing instead the path of peace (99). Now, I am not against courtesy. I am simply uncomfortable with the overriding aim of courtesy over love to the point to even suggest that 'courtesy' is the greatest. Sometimes, truth-telling has to be done in spite of the lack of courtesy. Take for example, Rosa Parks' refusal to stand against the discrimination of blacks in the bus. Is that courtesy, or simply refusal to conform to the unjust systems of that day? Of course, one can argue that disagreement can be done courteously. Perhaps, patience and gentleness appeals better for me personally.

The biggest problem I have with the book is about the source of 'fearless relationships.' On one hand, it appears humanistic. On the other hand, it appears like the author is encouraging readers to depend on a hidden unnamed spiritual source, which could be anyone or anything. To subject oneself to such can be tricky, and unhealthy. For the Christian believer, if you read this book, always base your 'rules' on biblical teachings. These 'rules' can help you trigger ideas on building good relationships, but it should never be read alone.


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