Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Most Interesting Life

Revolution in Mind  a book by  Roger Brian Neill
The last two books I have read are both autobiographies, that of Roger Neill and of Bill Vanderzalm,  but the two lives and the two books are worlds apart. What they do share is their Christian faith, but even there we see how divergent that can be. I was given this book by a friend of his and because he lives locally I thought it might worth my while to read it. It was!
Mr. Neill starts his autobiographical journey with a picturesque description of him, as a young boy, growing up in the Maritimes. His love of nature and outdoor adventure are nurtured early on and remain with him throughout his life. His schooling takes him to university but along the way he has numerous adventures as he finds employment on the ski slopes and on the trains.  
The mind revolution that the title refers to begins in University at the very left leaning Simon Fraser University in Burnaby BC. He paints a picture of revolutionaries and radicals and his temptations to follow that path.
He came from a family of achievers and after doubting he would fit the mould, he does achieve his degrees and establishes himself in a career in social work where his efforts are very successful, working with the mentally ill, something that would help him to achieve a very fulfilling task later in life in, of all places, Jamaica.  
His life is a series of adventures, both in outdoor activities, service opportunities, and inner discoveries, always interesting and always prompting the thought in me that I have lead a dull life.
Mr. Neill's writing is very articulate, and he particularly excels when he is describing nature, whether camping at Green Drop Lake in the dead of winter or scuba diving in Jamaica. I believe he would be a wonderful adventure writer. His descriptions are poetic and have the ability to draw the reader easily into the situation.
His desire to be of service leads him to unlikely places such as Kosovo, Jamaica, and a few stints in the Israeli army. I was hoping for more insight as to how these assignments appealed so greatly to him and what was the motivation to take them on.
I was also hoping for a some additional insight as to how his radical ideas were transformed into his desire to follow Jesus.
One other minor criticism is the fact that I found the flow of the book a bit jagged, a bit of jumping back and forth with some minor repetition and events happening out of sequence. At the end of the book he reveals that he has been journaling almost all his life. Perhaps he has taken many journal entries and tied them together.
However, this does not distract from the fact that Mr. Neill has led a most interesting life and has written a most interesting book about it. The final chapter entitled "The Hurt Locker" brings together the philosophical elements of his life and I found it to be an integral part of understanding this most interesting man.  
3 1/2 stars out of 5 

No comments: