The Mystic's Way for Regular People

Christian - Devotion/Study
98 Pages
Reviewed on 05/30/2021
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Author Biography

I am Professor Emeritus of Education at Kentucky Wesleyan College (United Methodist). I mostly taught literacy methods and educational psychology. My PhD is from the University of Arkansas in Education and psychology (cognate). I also have a MATheol degree from St.Thomas Theological Seminary in historical theology and a MS in psychology. So, sometimes, I taught psychology of religion. Recently, I completed a Certificate in Franciscan Studies from the University of St. Francis (Illinois). I have a Certificate in Soul Centered Transpersonal Coaching Psychology. I'm a former minister (Cumberland Presbyterian). I have been an Episcopalian for years-- and love it. I have been meditating for the past 35 years. My membership in the Third Order Franciscans (TSSF) has really deepened my spiritual life. I am married to Irene (46 years), the joy of my life. I have 2 married sons, and 4 grandkids. I also have a Maine Coon cat named Baxter, who thinks he owns the place! All proceeds from my coaching practice as well as this book go to feed the hungry.



    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

The Mystic's Way for Regular People by James Alexander is a slim book that explores communion with God and shows how accessible it is to ordinary people. Many people tend to believe that to become a mystic one needs to be learned, a scholar of sorts, but this book explores the essential components of mysticism and proposes a practical way for regular people to develop deeper levels of intimacy with God. Unlike popular belief, the author moves away from the traditional understanding of mysticism in which the mystics heeded the call of Jesus to seek solitude, hidden in their rooms where they can speak to God in secret. The author, a member of the Third Order Franciscan (TSSF), simplifies prayer and communion with God and provides a deeper understanding of the “how,” “why,” and “what” it consists of.

This book is timely and it addresses the spiritual poverty that is felt worldwide, where many still seek God only in the context of being saved or spared the experience of hell; where many seek God as the solution to their multifaceted problems. James Alexander takes readers back to the core understanding of mysticism as “a face-to-face communion with God—a participation in the very life of God.” He articulates with unusual intelligence and logical arguments on a variety of topics, including the nature of God, poverty of spirit, love and joy, peace, prayer, and meditation. The book is filled with relevant biblical references and allusions to some of the greatest mystics such as Francis of Assisi, Theresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and the learned author Alfred North Whitehead. The prose is beautiful and accessible and the author shares strong personal insights in the book. The Mystic's Way for Regular People is a well-written, inspiring book that should be received as a gift of faith. It is filled with spiritual wisdom and it will guide ordinary readers to find their path to union with God.

Jamie Michele

The Mystic's Way for Regular People by James Alexander is a Christian theological book with the intent of providing foundational guidance on the modern application of the ancient practice of mysticism. Alexander begins the book with an introduction and a chapter that does its best to describe in simple terms what mysticism actually is in Christianity. It also makes clear that the mystic experience is not limited to richly detailed accounts by famed mystics in the past. It's a deeply personal gift from God for everybody with the heart for it. Following Mysticism and the Nature of God, six chapters bridge mysticism to and within everyday areas that, in one capacity or another, we can all relate to. These include poverty, love, joy, peace, prayer, and the Bible.

I admit that when I first started reading The Mystic's Way for Regular People, I approached James Alexander's work with a bit of reservation. The book was, first and foremost, an exploratory device to a world that I have often linked to anti-intellectualism. The pairing wasn't hostile; I just didn't see how a marriage between the academic mind and the faithful heart could ever last. Slowly, Alexander was able to peel the layers away and expose them to me. Slow isn't really a speed I do well with but the compact nature of the book made the density of text much more palatable. It's a lot to take in. There are three standouts for me that I have to mention. The first is how great it is having each chapter end with “Some things to think about.” Associating joy with color and the tangible, tactile nature of texture engages a reader above and beyond most theology guides. The second was Alexander walking us through his daily prayer routine—which includes coffee—and how his communing with God is woven throughout everything he does. And finally, it was really, really encouraging to have Alexander show us how we might approach scripture, “...using scripture as a part of an actual conversation between Jesus and us...” Very highly recommended.

Liz Konkel

The Mystic's Way for Regular People by James C. Alexander explores the concept of mysticism and how it relates to the journey of spiritual life. This book is for everyone seeking more in life who has decided on a spiritual journey by seeking something deeper. The devotional serves as a starting point for those wanting a deeper connection with God by allowing them a chance to achieve peace, love, joy, and blessings through this spiritual relationship. Alexander delivers a meditative spiritual journey in this prayer devotional - an answer for a life that has a richer fulfillment in God and gives peace to those that are lonely and feeling empty.

The devotional explores the concept of mysticism through the idea of fully loving God and how this leads to a relationship that lets you find a way to fully love others. James C. Alexander uses his own experiences and voice woven throughout as a way to introduce the different stepping stones to building this relationship. The genuine voice creates a tone that feels conversational and creates a safe place to take that first step in a spiritual journey. The devotional is a grounded guide for the everyday person that isn't sure how to take their first step in their journey in Christ or has just started seeking out a spiritual path. The tone is driven by honesty such as encouragement to take the time, love, and grace to create confidence, trust, and faith in the walk with God.

Each chapter explores a different aspect of mysticism from peace to prayer with each ending with further ways to explore mysticism. Each chapter also incorporates questions to think about at the end that allow for further meditation on the topic and the upcoming journey in God. The guide also includes lists for further reading about mysticism and other topics covered. The devotional focuses on every aspect related to mysticism and connecting with God to enrich your life. The book also covers how to show more love toward others by listening, not judging, and not arguing with God's love of each of us. The Mystic's Way for Regular People is ideal for those on a journey of spiritual meaning in a devotional that explores mysticism through the blessings of peace, love, and prayer.

Fr. Gabe Sinisi, TSSF

This book is easy to read. It well documented but a theology degree is not necessary. This for anyone interested in exploring a closer relationship with the Divine. James, you hit this one out of the park.

Elsetta Mae Torres

I found the book very motivating. Sometimes, in this busy world, we do not find time for the Lord. He just gets pushed to the side, behind the kids, laundry and other things. We always plan to say the prayer at night, but fall asleep exhausted. The Mystic's Way for Regular People reminded me how much my life could change if I did put God first. It has helped me to try to put my priorities in order and strive to do better. I think it can help others, to.

Doug Raymond

James Alexander knows first-hand how a life can be changed by God, and with The Mystic's Way, has written what may be a life-changing book for many. This is not a book to read and toss aside, but one to use as a devotional tool to grow in a closer relationship with God.

‘Mystic’ is a word unfamiliar to some, and downright scary to others. But Alexander is careful to distinguish between the many secular forms of mysticism and the orthodox, Christian, Jesus-loving devotion practiced by the earliest followers of the Gospel.

Agreement with all perspectives offered in this volume is unnecessary because the book is not about doctrine or teaching of a particular theology. It is about starting from your own place of faith in Christ and moving toward a more intimate experience with the Savior.

Irene Schaeperkoetter

This book is interesting to read with personal stories to keep you engaged. It will be helpful for anyone who is searching for a way to develop a deeper spiritual journey. I like that there are questions to consider after each chapter and recommendations for further reading. It is really a good book.

Cate Zimmermann

The Mystic's Way for Regular People is true to its title. This small, easy to read book provides access to the world of mysticism for those interested, but possibly intimidated by the topic. The author provides a simple definition and expanded explanation in the first chapter that demystifies the path for those who are seeking more from a relationship with the Divine.

Although James Alexander is very much an academic, his approach in this book comes from his long history with seeking the Divine as a "regular" person. His path is enhanced by scholarship but he makes it clear that mysticism is for everyone, regardless of academic experience. However, for those who have interest in the history and experiences of theologians and other mystics, he provides ample resources for further study.

The short chapters, based on human needs and experiences, provide evidence of how we often live lives of mystics without being aware of our practice. There are also suggestions about how to deepen the experience of mysticism based on the author's experiences as well as those of other mystics in different times and places.

Each chapter is concluded with "Some Things to Think About", a challenge to sit with the information presented and consider how it might impact our personal lives. These questions open doors to self-awareness and awareness of the Divine in the regular lives we live.

Carl & Ann S.

Dr. Alexander uses scripture quotes, personal experiences, and his theological training to write a book that is very accessible to a wide range of readers. He is very non-judgmental in his suggestions, recognizing that the everyday mystic can use a wide variety of methods (or none at all) in an effort to strive for greater union with the Eternal God. His comparison of the styles of James and Irene puts a personal spin on his teaching.

Alice Baird

“Mysticism” can be a foreign word to many Christians, particularly Protestants. The word may conjure off-putting images of St. Theresa of Avila swooning in ecstasy before the cross. But in The Mystic’s Way for Regular People, written in friendly, straightforward language, the author, James Alexander, lays out “the mystic’s way” to God—a way accessible to all, even “regular people,” as the title indicates, a way to come to know God more closely and personally. The book, only 83 pages long, is a good and highly readable introduction to a subject that need not scare away the average reader, the “regular” person. What it proposes is a way to frame the spiritual journey, a way to make it your own.

According to the author, this way derives from heart knowledge of God. What he is interested in is opening our hearts to God and letting Him into all aspects of our lives. As such, this slim volume is not an academic review; don’t seek among its pages for theological arguments, controversial dogmas of faith, or supernatural experiences. Instead what you will find is a non-intimidating introduction to “the mystic’s way,” presented clearly and humbly, from the perspective of a true searcher for God.

Throughout his life as a former evangelical, Presbyterian minister, and college professor for 25 years; and now as an Episcopalian and follower of St. Francis in the Third Order Society of St. Francis, the author explains in his introduction that he has encountered many people with a “hole in the heart”— sometimes known as the “God-shaped hole,” or what St. Augustine called “the innate hunger for the infinite.” But Alexander does not frame it so grandly; he says simply that “in the search for God, our relationship becomes that of a friend to a friend.” And what could be less intimidating than friendship?

Recognizing that friendships can evolve differently over time, the mystic’s way that Alexander proposes is not a pilgrimage where point A must lead to point B and then to point C and so on with nary a deviation from the path. Alexander recognizes that some practices will appeal to some seekers and not to others, so he offers a wide array of vehicles on the varied paths to God. Different types of prayer and of drawing the treasures of the Bible into the heart are considered, along with practices of love, simplicity, joy, peace, and meditation. None are presented as arcane, difficult-to-master disciplines; in his writing, all are easily approachable methods to develop a friendship with our approachable God. And all are flavored with relatable personal examples from his own life.

For beginners who need an introduction to forming a friendship with God, and for those further along in the journey who wish to go deeper, The Mystic’s Way for Regular People is a sensible, easy-to-read guide to the spiritual life.