Monday, September 5, 2011

New School Year, New Book

For many of us, school children reported back this past week; traditionally, Labor Day week-end marks the end of summer.  Even though we may still have weeks or months of summer weather, now is a good time to turn our attention towards spiritual development.  Summer vacation is over!

I recently read Brian D. McLaren's latest book, Naked Spirituality:  A Life with God in 12 Simple Words.  After reading McLaren's last book, A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith, I had vowed not to read any more.  I felt his books getting more and more repetitive, and I agreed with most of his points about the mission of Jesus.  I changed my mind when I read the premise of this latest one and bought the book.

It's a worthwhile read, especially for those of us who may have moved away from a life of faith or for those of us who grew up in a more repressive faith.  He wrestles with thorny issues, like how we live a life of faith in the face of unspeakable tragedy.  He reminds us that a life of faith is cyclical, that we don't arrive on a plateau and keep on climbing.

He also focuses on practices, believing that faith is about what we do, more than what we believe.  He says, ". . . a way of life is formed by practices.  By practices, we mean doable habits or rhythms that transform us, rewiring our brains, restoring our inner ecology, renovating our inner architecture, expanding our capacities.  We mean actions within our power that help us become capable of things currently beyond our power" (page 21).

McLaren has written a book that's very readable, very accessible.  And best of all, you can dip in and out.  I started reading it in July and had several weeks where I couldn't get back to it.  I didn't have to start all over again when I returned to it.

So, if you need a way to turn your attention back to your spiritual life, a gentle refocusing instrument would be this book.

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