John Van Dixhorn, PhD
Outskirts Press (2015)
Reviewed by Susan Violante for Reader Views (03/16)
When I picked up “Prisoner Of Belief” by John Van Dixhorn, PhD, I was intrigued by the title. As a fan of personal memoirs, I have read an infinite number of stories about people’s journeys within in their search of God. This story is different, and somewhat the opposite of what I have found in all the other books I have read so far on the ‘God searching’ topic. The story begins with the author visiting his mother at the hospital. There he remembers his upbringing as he recounts his childhood years with a Calvinist fundamentalist mother. During his difficult puberty years, Dixhorn distances himself from God and his rules about sex, until his older brother convinces him to come back to God. In the end, Dixhorn becomes an Evangelical pastor and a successful one at that. However, throughout his life, Dixhorn struggled with the Old Testament and the Orthodox way, as well as liberals. There was something in him that always felt unresolved when it came to his beliefs…so his search for truth continued as his metamorphosis into a secular psychologist progressed.
I loved Dixhorn’s voice in his narrative. His writing style made this book not only interesting, but also entertaining. His candidness is complemented with exceptional writing, producing a narrative that reads like a fiction novel, to the point of making it difficult to put down. I found the recounting of how Dixhorn experienced religion, theology, and philosophy to be enlightening and personal. The way that he shared his thought process and conviction evolution was done in such a way that in no way do I think anyone who might disagree with some of his conclusions could find them offensive. That speaks a lot about the author’s writing skills. I think that no matter what we decide to believe or not, when it comes to religion, it is personal. The discussion should always happen within our heart and mind so that we can decide for ourselves what type of life to lead as an adult to feel happy and fulfilled. The discussions the author shared in his book is an example of that process. I believe it will inspire many to have that conversation with themselves, and even if their conclusion is different from the author’s, I believe they will be glad to have read “Prisoner Of Belief.”
“Prisoner Of Belief” by John Van Dixhorn, PhD, is the account of a journey to awakening that will inspire all readers to search within to live the life they were meant to live, even if different than the author’s. I truly enjoyed this thought provoking, inspiring, and even entertaining read!