What in the world is a Shining Stranger?!

About 5 years ago I was browsing in my favorite used book store when I came across a large tome entitled “The Shining Stranger” by a gentleman named Preston Harold.  It was the tagline that caught my full attention: “An Unorthodox Interpretation Of Jesus And His Mission.”  As I scanned through the book, I quickly realized that this was not an unorthodox religious approach, although most of Harold’s religious interpretations are certainly fascinating. Rather, his overall approach to interpreting Jesus’ mission is quite unorthodox.

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On the inside cover of my worn and ratty Third Edition published in 1973 (see photo), at the top in bold print is a heading stating:

A REVOLUTIONARY INTERPRETATION OF JESUS’ MESSIANIC MISSION WHICH OFFERS:

   The answer Judaism can accept–

   The answer Christianity can accept–

   The answer every religion can accept and maintain it’s own integrity.

Ummmm, o.k.  Wow!  Those are certainly some pretty big claims.  Now for some excerpts from the text below the heading…

“The Shining Stranger offers new answers to the controversial questions that divide and plague the world’s religions – new answers to the questions of the relationship between religion, science, and psychology. These answers are so illuminating, unprecedented, and well-founded that they must in time make a tremendous impact upon every faith, and upon man’s view of himself, the universe, and his place in it.”

“As Harold poses the Scriptures and Jesus’ own words, works, and drama against modern knowledge, a new answer to the Messianic question takes shape to reconcile and transcend conflicting views… Mathematics, science, and psychology are shown to be developments in the expression of truth which has been intuitively grasped and poetically stated in the great religions and philosophies.”

How about some claims from some well known individuals quoted on the back cover…

Truly a remarkable work…He has made of Jesus an extraordinary being, whether viewed from a religious standpoint or the ‘laique’ one.  There are passages which are dizzying – as if we were dealing with a being from another planet.- Henry Miller

…a provocative and wide ranging study of the nature of messiahship.  It enables us to see the extent to which the concept of Christhood has altered in the course of the centuries, and it indicates the direction in which further changes are coming.- Dr. Ira Progoff

While I do not agree with many of the author’s conclusions, this book presents interpretations both startling and promising,  A controversial book, it could well bring about as much change in the Christian Western world’s thinking as the findings and books of Charles Darwin of a hundred years ago.- Stella Terrill Mann

A spiritual breakthrough in the Messianic message for our time, a conclusive answer to the quest for a relevant, dynamic faith.- Dr. Marcus Bach

Chapter XVII, in a class by itself, is the soundest exposition of contemporary economics we know. –THE PHILOSOPHER, Journal of the Philosophical Society of England

Quite impressive accolades, no?  Does the book actually live up to them?  That’s what we will explore in this blog.  Along the way we will explore the aforementioned fields of religion, science, and psychology, while also diving into theology, metaphysics, mysticism, gnosticism, the esoteric and occult, music, art, and more.  We will go through the book chapter by chapter, bit by bit, exploring, questioning, and wondering.  I hope you will hop along for the ride.  Before we hit the gas, though, we need to find out more about our author, Preston Harold.  We will learn more about him in my next post.  Until then, peace…

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