Making Manifest is a creative writing workbook. you are to read a different reflection each day and complete the writing exercise that goes along with it. the thought behind it is that writing can be a spiritual discipline–and, where i have found the book unique, it blends spiritual exercise with writing.
the exercises are appropriate for beginners and not-so-beginners, and did help me to become more focused on writing as a spiritual activity. i have been slow working through this book–it has taken me about two months to complete–but i have truly enjoyed coming to it each evening, sitting down in an attitude of worship in my writing.
each week begins with an accessible free-verse poem (by harrity–and the poems are good, but i did find myself wondering why the book did not also include poetry by other christians) and each day begins with an excerpt from scripture followed by a reflection. i would be interested in doing this workbook again in a group or with a few friends, since the back of the book offers extra writing prompts and discussion questions for if the book is being done in a group environment.
the reflections only lightly touch on the scripture that is referenced–i often found myself hungry for more on the theological side, so i would not recommend this as your only scripture reading or devotional practice while you are working through the book. accordingly, harrity does not claim this is a devotional book–in the introduction, he defines the book as “a series of daily engagements oriented toward quiet action.” he urges the reader to make space in their life for writing that they’ll be doing everyday.
the poetic language of the devotionals at times were vague and left things up for interpretation that would make me hesitate to recommend the book to someone who didn’t have someone to guide them through it or who wasn’t grounded in their faith. i think the book could work well for a church group, especially if it was read in conjunction with a more theological text like Francis Schaeffer’s Art and the Bible.
overall, i think that this was a book that needed to be written, and i hope to see more like it in the future. i love that it emphasizes writing (and creativity) as worship and spiritual practice–so often i think that christians have a negative attitude toward the arts, that the arts are inherently of the world and indulgent and devoid of theology. books like this are needed in the christian community–that remind us that we are first introduced to God, in the bible, as the Creator, and in being creative we can imitate, commune with, and worship Him.