Raising Abel subtitled “The Life of Faith” by Ronald Ragotzy, M. D. (Balboa Press) has medicinal properties without even claiming them.
It might be just what the doctor ordered for the reader who wants to construct a life with a new framework, a new home for the soul supported by faith--Or it could be the springboard for a contemplative afternoon or informal group discussion or midweek church chat session about the meaning of religion in a very broad sense, direction, planning and looking ahead.
“Abel” is a thin, unpretentious attempt by a doctor (an allergist) who was once so depressed he considered suicide. A practicing physician for some 30 years, Ragotzy has been searching for order and meaning in school, during extensive travel, inner forays into doubt and through Bible reading. The book is a layman’s effort to find his way, and does not have any ponderous theological pretense or promise of perfection. It is a sincere search for self.
One thing one might notice immediately is a device lacking in many demanding discourses on life, hope and doubt. One of the book’s strong points might be one of its least obvious. It is filled with tight, short chapters with footnotes in fine print, which add meat to the topic if one wants to explore further. A very wide range of philosophers, theologians, authors and others, from Søren Kierkegaard to Mary Shelly, Friedrich Nietzsche, Albert Schweitzer and Muhammad, entice further discussion, extension and thought... regardless of the reader’s starting point for religious notions.
The author, a resident of Janesville, Wisconsin, sees Genesis not as literal truth defined by archaeology or GPS or other finite tools, but as a metaphor, a poem, a road map for development of and reliance upon faith. A number of rational personal examples demonstrate Ragotzy’s deep feeling that the spiritual realm can and should include both heart and mind, and must not be too narrowly defined. For example, he quotes D. Elton Trueblood as saying, “Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.”
Raising Abel does not pretend to be a medical book, even if it is authored by a doctor. But it should lead to some healthy discussions, and could help cure division among schools of thought...if the reader opens both heart and mind.
As Voltaire once put it, “Faith consists in believing what is beyond the power of reason to believe.” So have faith that the book is well worth reading.
Title: Raising Abel: The Life of Faith
Author: Ronald Ragotzy
Paperback/170 pages/$12.59; Kindle/$3.99/329KB; hardcover/$20.76
Publisher: BalboaPress (December 6, 2012)