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The Mystery of Identity

The Mystery of Identity

By Luke Bell O.S.B

246 pp

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About the Book

Identity means being the same and being different. It is a one-word oxymoron. How on earth can the concept make sense? This brilliant exposition of the question goes—by way of literature, philosophy, and psychology—to show that it can only be answered metaphysically. Identity is the mystery at the heart of creation, and, ultimately, the mystery of its Creator. Personal anxieties about who we are and political tensions about who others are melt before the radiance of God’s truth. In that truth we find our true selves, as images of the unimaginable. This book guides the reader through our culture’s concerns about identity and along the spiritual path that leads to the receiving of “a white stone, with a new name written on it that no one knows except the one who receives it.”


The Mystery of Identity calls us on a journey to the innermost self, offering great poets and philosophers of Christendom and the Islamic world as our guides. Stripping ourselves down to the heart, we find Gethsemane in its chambers, and Christ kneeling there, inviting us to wake up and join his prayer: ‘Not my will, but yours.’ This is where Luke Bell locates that elusive ‘identity’ which moderns spend so much energy seeking; and he gives sound, practical advice drawn from decades of his own monastic practice on how to find it. This is a book for anyone interested in knowing who they really are.”


author of The Lost Way to the Good


The Mystery of Identity is a Christian study of identity, but one that crosses the boundaries of all shades of religious belief and unbelief. God, the immortal soul, and personal identity: these three are inseparably connected, even though many of those who believe in the third feel free to disbelieve in the first two. Fr Bell examines the most prevalent identity crises today, reconnecting them with God by means of events in the Gospels. He elucidates these crises in the light of the classic literature of the West, from Shakespeare to Dostoevsky, showing from this side also that the resolution of all conflicts—whether deeply existential or psychologically weaponized as in the case of identity politics—is to be found in the Gospels. He further explains how we share in the identities of the Persons of the Trinity when we recite the Psalms, and how this self-identification does not mean any compromise for our own identities, because, by identifying with Christ, we implicitly identify with the Source where all identities are eternally pre-formed.”


author of Person, Soul and Identity

About the Author

LUKE BELL O.S.B. studied English literature at King’s College, Cambridge, and taught it for twelve years before becoming a monk. His books include The Meaning of Blue: Recovering a Contemplative Spirit (on contemplating God through creation and language, and in Himself) and Staying Tender (seven days’ reflection on loving with the steadfastness of the Lord). He lives at Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight, where he enjoys swimming and reading Dostoevsky.

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