Review of "A Man
of the Field. Volume 1. The Struggle against Nonduality and
Materialism" by Leon James.
By Abe Venter (Counseling Psychologist and experienced
"Lead kindly light, amidst encircling gloom."
The words of this beloved hymn encapsulate my experience
whilst reading this comprehensive guide to life and
spirituality. The "light" that should lead us kindly is the
Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. And the "encircling gloom" is
the spiritual confusion and darkness of this age.
Dr James demonstrates that the spiritual ensnarement of
modern life is subtle. Truth and untruth are grouped together,
put alongside each other, so that neither is clearly
discernible. We are being bombarded with Oriental and Christian
forms of nondualistic thinking every day, and in various
Nondualism refers to the philosophy of not making a clear
- - Creator and creation
- - Good and evil
- - Material and spiritual
In the previous century our Western systems-of-thought have
become permeated with nondualism. A visit to the mind-body-soul
section of any modern book shop will confirm this. Nondualism is
essentially a synonym for "anything goes." So we end up with a
lukewarm pseudo-spirituality that can effect no real change in
The false promise of nondualism is that "ye shall be as
Gods...". Dr James shows that we need to reaffirm our position
as created beings. We are not demigods as the New Age presumes.
The New Age movement is notorious for shrouding spiritual things
in a cloak of mysticism and irrationality. This is not the way
to God. The genuine way to God is through rational truth and
The true spiritual path is one of toiling in the field of
daily living, hence the title of the book. This means that true
spirituality is hard work. We are always harboring good and evil
spiritual company, and we have to choose between them daily.
Without the Lord's ceaseless management of this process, we
would have no chance.
Dr James shows that every minute of every day has a bearing
on our eternal state after death. To yield to temptation is a
step backward; to be victorious a step forward. The discipline
of true marital love is the quickest steed to salvation.
This guide of almost 400 pages (and its follow-up, Volume 2)
will occupy the attention of the serious Swedenborgian student
for a lifetime. It is a must-have. Dr James has created an
enormous legacy. He is an unrivalled Swedenborgian scholar and
true servant of the Lord.
5.0 out of 5 stars
True Christianity Revealed, August 4, 2010
Leon James is a profound scholar, dedicated husband, and
gifted theologian. He has read and understood Swedenborg in a
way that few people ever have. As a result, he has penetrated
beyond Swedenborg's literal words to the spiritual core of his
message. I read A Man of the Field several years ago while
recovering from a hip replacement. The truth cointained in Dr.
James' book healed my soul much quicker than the cells of my
body healed my poor hip!
If you are looking for a guide to spiritual
Christianity--something that shows the greatness and power of
Jesus' message, while also providing inspiration and guidance
for every moment of your life, this is the book for you. Leon
will show you how you can become the human being you are
intended to become in the simplest, most direct way. You will
see that you do not have to travel to India to sit at the feet
of a guru. Nor do you have to fast, or pray often, or frequent
churches regularly. While these practices may be helpful, all
you really need to do (if you are married) is love your wife,
fully and completely. Go shopping with her. Don't sit down. Feel
her joy. When you get home, it's not time to sit down either.
She will want to try everything on again and ask your opinion.
Be there for her. Love her--not yourself. And your reward will
be great: you will experience heaven on earth.
That's just one small sample of the many treasures stored up
in this great work. I recommend it wholeheartedly as a wonderful
testimony to the True Christianity revealed in the pages of
Emanuel Swedenborg's works.
"True love between one man and one wife is the precious
treasure of life, and the repository of the Christian religion."
--Emanuel Swedenborg, Conjugial Love, #457.
Ray Silverman, Ph.D.
Chaplain, Bryn Athyn College, Bryn Athyn, PA