I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.
There is an old saying, "When the student is ready, the master will appear." That's how this book is setup, with the author's teacher showing up to teach a professional bass player how to play music, and that's how this book found its way to me. It was the right message at the right time, and there is simply not enough I can say about it that will sing its praises properly.
There are a great many self-help books out there, just as there are a great many musical instruction books and books on fundamental spirituality. This book is all three at once - a masterpiece in its own right - and so much more. Sometimes for a message that's always been with us to be heard properly is for it to be presented in a new way, providing that shift in focus that clicks everything into place. Being musically inclined, that's precisely what this audiobook did for me.
As a narrator, Wooten is superb. He tells the story in such a way that we are learning right along with him at the feet of a teacher who will show us "nothing." Indeed, that's the whole message of the story, that we already know everything we need to know. From another person, this message might seem unbelievable or completely trite, but Wooten's tale makes you believe it. If I have one regret about this book, it's that it sat in my wish list for far too long... but then, perhaps I wasn't ready for it until now.
The story of religion is the story of humanity, regardless of your own personal views on any given sect. Why and how we believe is every bit as important as what we believe. This book breaks it down, compares, contrasts, and digs into the important philosophical questions and problems that each religion poses as well as how those religions overcome those points. I found myself wanting a paper copy for review purposes of many of these questions. For the serious student of philosophy, this will be a beginner's course, but for the average person, this will launch a deeper quest. The learned of this world past and present seem to be in agreement that the unexamined life is a life not worth living, and faith untested isn't faith at all. This book, in introducing the examinations of the world's major belief systems, encourages the listener to ask such questions of their personal views as well. It's a lot of bang for your buck.
I do not label myself as a Christian, but part of my fascination with the Middle Ages comes from building an understanding of how Christianity evolved through the ages and influenced the people and events. The two are inseparable. But sometimes studies get so big that we forget history and all of its ideas are first and foremost about people. Learning their personal views and ideas transcends all time barriers once the language barrier is broken.
The idea of this book is one that allows the reader to step back through time, to speak directly with Meister Eckhart. The questions are contrived in such a way as to facilitate this conversation. The answers are the master's own words, which are deeply spiritual (as one would expect) and worthy of comparison to studies of modern doctrine and belief. Much of it will be surprising, as this is the mind of a Medieval monk who was revolutionary even in his own time. Regardless of whether or not you agree with Eckhart's words, if you're inclined towards historical or spiritual studies (and I'm assuming you are if you're looking into this book), then this is worth the time. It's only about 3 hours long, but it's excellence of content is worth every second. Historically and spiritually, it's interesting to compare his views alongside, say Aquinas or Von Bingen, amongst others. This book can be an historical curiosity or a meditative quest, depending upon how the reader identifies with the material. It's the sort of thing that reminds us that both historically and spiritually, there are always other ways to see anything. There is always more to learn, more to experience, and more facets to the bigger picture than any one person or any one doctrine can illuminate.