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4.6 out of 5 stars
Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer
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119 of 122 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2006
Having just finished this book, the first I've read by Richard Rohr, I have to say that I'm awe-struck. It will take some time for me to reflect on and process what I've read. Note that this isn't a guide on the "how-to's" of comtemplation but, rather, how to live contemplatively. It may challenge you (including your ideas of social justice) and, in the process, help you grow spriritually. If you are open-minded to new perspectives and have an inclusive world view, you may well enjoy it. I highly recommend it, and will definitely read it a second time.
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57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2006
I am involved in a Men's group and we are currently discussing this book by Richard Rohr. Most of the men in the group are reading this book for the second or third time and it is their all time favorite book on spiritual matters! As for me, I have read numerous books and by some of the great spiritual masters and Richard Rohr's book and delivery speaks to my soul in a way no other book has. This humble franciscan - that some consider a modern day prophet - has the ability to speak clearly to your soul and resonate with the truth that is within you. No other spiritual guide that I have encountered has the ability to put together (in simple language) the historical, biblical, anthropological, psychological, spiritual and even the physical development of the human soul. You will want to read this book several times. It's Richard's classic.
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2008
Let's see, I ear marked a dozen pages and highlighted about a tenth of the text in the course of reading this book. I enjoyed reading it and can easily identify with Fr. Rohr's perspective. It is not a how to book, but deals with the relevant issues associated with the journey. Below are what I thought were some of the highlights of this book.

Center and Circumference
Pg. 19: We do not find our own center; it finds us. Our own mind will not be able to figure it out. We collapse back into the Truth only when we are naked and free - which is probably not very often. We do not think ourselves into a new way of living. We live ourselves into a new way of thinking. In other words, our journeys, around and through our realities, or circumferences, lead us to the core reality, where we meet both our truest self and our truest God.

Vision and Enchantment
Pg. 51: Religions should be understood as only the fingers that point to the moon, not the moon itself.
Pg. 55: Everything belongs and everything can be received. We don't have to deny, dismiss, defy or ignore. What is, is okay. What is, is the greatest teacher

Ego and Soul
Pg. 80: The contemplative secret is to live in the now.
Pg. 65: The present moment has no competition. It is not judged in comparison to any other. It has never happened before and will not happen again. But when I am in competition, I'm not in love. I can't get to love because I am looking for a new way to dominate.

Don't Push the River
pg. 123: The final stage of the wisdom of faith is what we might call becoming the Holy Fool. Ironically the Holy Fool is one who knows he doesn't know, but doesn't need to either. He is able to leave the full knowledge to God.

Paula D'Arcy puts it, "God comes to us disguised as our life."

Pg. 130: Everything belongs; God uses everything. There are no dead ends. There is no wasted energy. Everything is recycled. Sin history and salvation history are two sides of one coin. When you "get" forgiveness, you get it. We use the phrase "falling in love." I think forgiveness is almost the same thing. It's a mystery we fall into: the mystery is God. God forgives all things for being imperfect, broken and poor. The people who know God well- the mystics, the hermits, those who risk everything to find God - always meet a lover, not a dictator. God is a lover who receives and forgives everything.

Pg. 149: This gift of contemplative prayer is not a way of thinking. It is much more a way of not thinking. It's not a way of talking; it finally moves beyond words into silence. It moves into the mystery that is too deep for words.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2006
This is a book not only about contemplative prayer but also about cultivating a spiritual life. Although geared towards Christians, it carries a truly universal message. I did not know the author before reading this book but I do not doubt that he is a spiritually mature and intelligent person. Who would have known a modern day Catholic priest could be so close to God? Every sentence in this slim book is like a jewel of wisdom, every chapter a refreshing glass of water. If you are not closed minded (either as a fundamentalist Christian or as an Atheist) and are able to hear spiritual truths, you will enjoy this book in your life. One of the rare books to be read more than once, and probably more than twice.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2008
Growing up in a fundamental Christian home and attending a conservative church,I was at first hesitant to read such a "out there" book by a catholic none the less. But it being recommended to me by my counselor as the middle road between the eastern way and the western, I was intrigued. I was so refreshed and renewed in my walk with Jesus to see Him as one who loves all and wants to be reconciled to all, no judgements. The Eastern way of looking at life used to frighten me but after this book, I feel more open minded and walking down the road God wants me on. I have such a new appreciation for the Catholic religion and their view of who God is. I reccommend this book to any who are searching for more of who God is.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2007
Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: the Gift of Contemplative Prayer (Crossroad 2003).

Each decade it seems I read a book I wish I'd written. This is one: a brilliant collection of spiritual wisdom. Richard Rohr is probably America's (the world's?) most sought-after teacher of Spirituality and Spiritual Direction. He has both an amazing verbal fluency and breadth of wisdom. He's the founder/director of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albacerqui New Mexico. (Look it up in Google and purchase some of his tapes/CDs - easy listening! Well, the teaching style is easy on the ears but the prophetic emphasis might be hard!).

Richard is a Franciscan, a `post Vatican 2' Catholic who is critical of both liberal and conservative theological assumptions. He believes (unlike many Protestants) that God was not dead before the 15th century, and also (unlike many Evangelicals/ Fundamentalists) that spiritual wisdom may also be found in some non-Christian sources (though he is critical of many of the presuppositions of Zen, New Age spirituality etc. as well).

Prayer in the teaching of Jesus (and of Richard) is more about being than technique. It's about your life, rather than how you put words together (as in adoration, confession, supplication etc. - there's less than one page here on the components of verbal praying).

And how you live authentically depends on your embracing emptiness, vulnerability, nonsuccess, descent-rather-than-ascent, letting-go rather than acquiring (`affluenza').

It's best to read this book slowly: the text is broken up into small 2-3 page chunks.

Richard Rohr is, in my view, `on target' as a modern prophet: you'll find many more of his articles (including a summary of this book) on this website: [...] . I've been privileged to have attended many of his conferences, and a retreat for men in Arizona a couple of years ago.

Herfe are some quotes from Everything Belongs to whet your appetite:

`Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.../ The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity' (W B Yeats).

The two great paths of transformation are suffering (which gets our attention) and love and prayer (to get to our heart and passion).

In God's reign `everything belongs' - even that which is broken and poor (`the poor and uneducated may love God more than the theologian or ecclesiastic' - St. Bonaventura).

With Julian of Norwich, we move beyond either-or thinking; we live with paradox, unanswered questions, inner contradictions: `First there is the Fall, and then the recovery from the Fall... Both are the mercy of God.' `The crucifixion was the worst event in human history and God made the best out of it to take away all of our excuses.'

The `Christ' of the insecure tends to be tribal - `just like them'. Centred people, however, are profoundly conservative, knowing they stand on the shoulders of their ancestors. Their security and identity are founded in God. Living out of their true self they are always free to obey - but also free to disobey Church or State, to obey who-they-are in God (eg. Paul, Thomas a Becket, Joan of Arc, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day).

The problem of all of Carl Jung's patients in the second half of life might have been solved by contact with `the numinous' (God).

Rowland Croucher
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53 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2010
There is a three-stage metaphor I like that describes the process of spiritual transformation in terms of paint on a wall. In the first stage we recognize that the old paint is worn and no longer adequate. In the next (and likely long) stage we scrape the old paint off the wall. This part can be hard work and subject us to all sorts of toxicities. Finally we apply the new paint and are not only changed forever, but truly live for the benefit of all (which is often not the case if one still has old paint underneath the new).

Like the majority of spiritual books available today, Father Rohr says a lot about the first and the third stages, but virtually nothing about the second. This is unfortunate and likely the result of his engagement with Zen. The down side of Zen, given its mistrust of language, is the implication that transformation is nothing more than a change of perspective. That if we simply "see" the wall with clarity we will see that the new paint is already there. For the vast majority of spiritual seekers, this sort of teaching (you are already enlightened, you just don't realize it) will leave them stuck with the old paint for the rest of their lives. As the saying goes, "grace favors those who have done the work" (e.g., Jesus' parable about sowing seeds on fertile vs. unfertile ground).

If Father Rohr's book left you wanting, try Keating's books on contemplative prayer, especially where he talks about divine therapy. If you're interested in the Buddhist perspective, try books on Vipassana (Insight) meditation, which is all about how to scrape the paint off the wall so the new paint will actually stick.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2006
This is a gritty, reality-checking book, the kind you can open to any page and find there a reading to guide your day's contemplation. Richard Rohr combines his Roman Catholicism (RC) with Buddhist sensibilities in this great set of readings for those with meditation and/or comtemplation practices. Though not RC myself, I am opening this book several times a week and I am recommending it to friends.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 23, 2012
"God is to be found in ALL things, even and most especially in the painful, tragic, and sinful things, exactly where we do not want to look for God." (p. 177)

This quote, from the end of Rohr's Everything Belongs, provides a succinct summary of the major theme of this book. In Rohr's words, "Everything belongs; God uses everything. There are no dead ends. There is no wasted energy." The book takes the reader on the path to discovering and accepting this truth.

The journey begins with a challenge to not live life superficially, on the "surface", but to dig through to the core--an identity based on our relationship with God. It continues with an exploration of what it means to wake up to God's presence in our lives. This involves accepting the premise that most people are simply sleepwalking through life, unaware of the Great Mystery surrounding them.

"Religion has tended to create people who think they have God in their pockets, people with quick, easy, glib answers." (pp.35, 36) How ARE we to wake up and become the kind of people who are not content with simplistic thinking and being spiritual "zombies"? Chapter 3 provides the answer by examining "Ego" and "Soul". Our ego is the "dualist" inside us--our habit is to live life comparing ourselves to others in terms of wealth, intelligence, and moral "goodness". To really know God involves giving up this false reality--to accept our flaws and forgive them ( as God does). Only when we see ourselves as we really are, are we then able to see God as He is--forgiving, loving us beyond our comprehension.

These are only a few of the nuggets of wisdom found in this book. I would highly recommend this book to people who are searching to really know God. As someone who has been an evangelical Christian for over 30 years, I have found a depth and richness in this book that is somewhat lacking in the evangelical tradition, which oftentimes seems to substitute "doing" rather than just "being" with God and experiencing His presence.

I found the author's writing style to be a bit ethereal and hard to grasp, perhaps because I am a very concrete thinker--this was my reason for only giving the book 4 stars. Another book which discusses some of the same ideas that I could more easily comprehend is Ronald Rolheiser's The Shattered Lantern. Both of these books are well worth the time for those of us who are looking to live more contemplatively and more aware of God's presence.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2006
This copy was for my daughter. Rohr is fresh and inspiring. Just keep reading, and what doesn't make easy sense at first begins to sink in. This is truly a new way of looking at things, and it brings a new perspective and the possibility of living in greater peace.
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