There is a growing genre of self-help and spirituality books out there that blend different aspects of Eastern and Western thinking in order to help people find balance and meaning in their lives. "8 Habits of Love" is another book in that lucrative vein, written by Rector Ed Bacon of the famous All Saints Episcopal Church, which has a congregation of over four thousand people. Rector Bacon is also a frequent guest on the Oprah's Soul Series radio program and, to my dismay, decided to add "writer" to his resume with this book.
While there are many, many good self-help books out there for all types of people, this is not one of them. From the very beginning (and I mean the beginning, like half way down the first page of the introduction) his writing made me feel like he was trying to sell something. Most of it started with testaments from People You Don't Know (as stated by Rector Bacon, not even in their own words) about how much Bacon's Habits of Love helped them, without smooth transitions between them so that they read almost as a list. I felt like I was reading a script for a 2 am. infomercial. You know, the kind where the actors are reading the teleprompter for the first time themselves?
Also reminiscent of underfunded commercials was the way in which he kept hammering home each of his Habits. And I don't mean why they were important; I just mean repetition that "____ ('Generosity' for example) is important! Whee!" Half of what he spoke about in each chapter didn't even seem to be related to the Habit itself except in the most convoluted of ways, most of his stories centering around how enlightened he is and how he helped other poor, lost souls to really discover what it's like to be happy. There were some pearls in the book, I'll grant. But they didn't necessarily come from knowing and following his Habits (like the philosophy that "the universe is kind") and frankly, it's not worth wading through the muck of his book to find them. A Zen devotional would do a better job of it.
Frankly, I felt like Rector Bacon, aside from his poor writing style, nonexistent transitions, and self-righteousness, was just trying to hop on the East-West Spirituality Wagon that's become so popular. I felt like "8 Habits of Love" was little more than a piggyback onto Buddhism's Eight-Fold Path. And while it is very true that Rector Bacon and his 8 Habits may have helped many people, his book at least does a god-awful job of communicating the lifestyle's potential.