Home > Culture > Stepping out with the Sacred: Human Attempts to Engage the Divine

Stepping out with the Sacred: Human Attempts to Engage the Divine

By Val Webb,

Continuum, 2010,

RRP $35.95

Reviewed by Rev Dr Marian Zaunbrecher, Queensland Synod Associate General Secretary.

THIS IS a true post-modern book in that it examines the search for the divine/ sacred throughout the religious expressions of the cultures of the world without exercising judgement on these expressions.

Ms Webb explores the images and metaphors used to describe the divine, and what different human cultures understand to be the abode of the divine.

Using observations from her own experience and that of others, the author describes how different faith expressions explain the realm of the Sacred, various founders’ visions and experience of the divine as well as the sacred rites, liturgies,
sites, places, symbols and roles of the community and clergy in these faiths.

It is Ms Webb’s thesis that all authoritarian statements in religion must be open to challenge and question as with authoritative statements from any discipline.

Any authority that goes against our own experience must be tested.

She comes to the conclusion that our experience and search for the sacred is fashioned by our own culture and life.

The book challenged me in that I thought I was a tolerant person and receptive to the beliefs and practices of other faiths (after all I did have the Rev Dr Robert Fulcher as one of my formative teachers), but through reading her book I found myself again examining my own prejudices and preconceptions and becoming more aware that true dialogue means unconditional acceptance of the other.

Ms Webb’s philosophies will not satisfy everyone – which is why I think it would make an excellent book for a book club or study group.

In the end though I had to agree with her when she says, “We cannot say God is ours only and that other experiences of the Sacred describe a different or false God".