Book Review: Getaway With God

Getaway With God:  The Everywoman’s Guide To Personal Retreat

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Kregel Book Tours.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

The subtitle to this book lets the reader know who this book is directed at.  Like many books, this is a book written by women, about women, and for women, and like many books it is about a subject that would potentially be of interest to many men as well, were it written by a man and didn’t contain endless references to the reader as “girlfriend,” which basically ensure that no man would want to read this book.  This may be the author’s intention.  It happens that I know many women who enjoy retreats and feel the need to do so because of how hectic and busy life is, and likely many of those people would want encouragement on personal retreats where there is the time to commune with God and Jesus Christ without the distractions of life and without many other people being around at all [1].  To be sure, it is not only women who find their life overscheduled, but this is a book on personal mystical practices and is written by someone who is clearly aiming this book at a female audience, largely because it appears her social world is dominated by friendships with other women, and because she appears to understand nothing of the pressures that men face as well in this regard.

The contents of this short book of only about 170 pages are organized in a thematic way to focus on the details and logistics of planning and executing a personal retreat.  The first part gives encouragement to women that retreats can be done and that they are not too daunting or difficult to manage, with short chapters on the author’s own experience with retreats, answering common questions about retreating, avoiding one size fits all recommendations, providing detailed logistical preparations, scheduling retreats, addressing common concerns and objections on the part of women to going on personal retreats, and engaging in “Sabbath” experiences that do not closely resemble the biblical account but rather the heathen attempt to appropriate Sabbath without obeying God.  The second part of the book provides a detailed model of a five day retreat, discussing the author’s experiences in this and also providing some details on what can be done during each of the five days in its own short chapter.  After this come various appendices on optional retreat exercises, a changed perspective on prayer, additional prayer models, designing a small group personal retreat, and finding a retreat center (most of which are Catholic ones).

There are a lot of issues with this particular book, even apart from the author’s narrow focus on a female audience.  Perhaps the biggest issue is that the author herself comes at the issue of retreats from the point of view of Hellenistic, rather than biblical, Christianity, and views scripture as merely something to be personally appropriated and not as something to be followed and obeyed.  She is constantly looking to her feelings for affirmation and appears to be looking for any sort of sign to confirm the wisdom of what she already wants to do, rather than seek to make personal changes to reflect what God has commanded in the Bible.  The author clearly comes from a Catholic perspective and that will not be of help to those who truly seek to follow God’s Word rather than heathen tradition.  Nevertheless, despite the book’s serious issues when it comes to a faulty worldview and perspective, and the author’s own biases and blinders, this book is written to encourage women and will likely do so even where a reader disagrees with substantial portions of the book.  So long as the book is viewed as encouragement from one woman to another about the need for personal rest and refreshment in the face of an overly busy contemporary life, this book will be of some good and will be valued as appropriate.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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