These Dry Bones

A Wisdom Journey into the Beatitudes

Non-Fiction - Religion/Philosophy
325 Pages
Reviewed on 07/26/2023
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Author Biography

Rev. Dr. Josh R. Ritter, M.Div., Ph.D., is a rhetorical and communication scholar who studies religious rhetoric, theology, philosophy, dialogue and deliberation, and civic interfaith leadership. He is also a chaplain, a teacher of rhetoric, and a contemplative, and his passion is the practice of engaged spirituality and reframing the ways we approach religion and the spiritual imagination. His previous publication is his co-authored book, Following the Way of Wisdom Jesus, that focuses on communication as a spiritual practice of generosity and mindful awareness.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

These Dry Bones: A Wisdom Journey into the Beatitudes by Josh R. Ritter explores Jesus's transformative teachings, particularly the Beatitudes, which are Jesus's own words. Ritter emphasizes Jesus's authority by connecting him to revered prophets and challenges dualistic thinking. Embodying the Beatitudes and surrendering to God's reign lead to a deeper understanding of the kingdom of God. The book highlights humility, non-attachment, and embracing uncertainties for true transformation and unity with God and others. Ritter emphasizes hungering for compassionate justice and the transformative power of mercy, purity of heart, and peacemaking. He advocates prayer as a means to encounter God's love and awaken our Christ-nature. Embracing vulnerability, acceptance, and unconditional love fosters healing and peace, leading to a more just and compassionate world.

The Dry Bones is a comprehensive study in which author Josh R. Ritter presents his analysis of Jesus's teachings in a concise and approachable manner. In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a Christian and did not even know what the Beatitudes were. One might think that would alter my point of view but, in fact, I went into the book as a clean slate and walked away with a far greater understanding of Christ's teachings than I expected. To me, for both personal reasons and in response to the state of the world right now, I was most moved by Reflection 11, Part One: Blessed are the Merciful. In it, Ritter connects Jesus's teachings on forgiveness in Matthew 18—forgiving 70 times 7 times—to the importance of self-forgiveness. He states, "In the end, mercy is always self-compassion and self-forgiveness combined with loving-kindness." Ritter turns the concept within and emphasizes that mercy is an internal practice, not just about forgiving others, but also about forgiving oneself. Overall, Ritter has delivered an insightful study for those with an open enough heart to accept it. Very highly recommended.