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Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction Paperback – February 28, 1992


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Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction + The Practice of Spiritual Direction + Seeking God Together: An Introduction to Group Spiritual Direction
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 146 pages
  • Publisher: Cowley Publications; Sixth Printing edition (February 28, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561010561
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561010561
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,835 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This is a solid introduction to the art of guiding others in Christian spiritual growth. Guenther, wife, mother, Episcopal priest, and seminary professor, uses feminine images, especially midwifery, to describe the director's role, but insists that both women and men can assist spiritual birth. Her treatment is thoroughly human, and at the same time she is considerate of gender issues. Guenther focuses on sins of self-hatred and self-contempt as well as pride and greed. An excellent addition to its field, this is for seminary and public libraries.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Scientific American

In the very best sense, hers is a book of non-direction: earthed and wise, compassionate and unsentimental, practical and contemplative.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I've read many books on this subject, yet this one kept me engaged from cover to cover.
Amazon Customer
In the chapter entitled `Good Teachers', Guenther explores the teaching and learning aspects of spiritual direction.
FrKurt Messick
This is a most engaging mix of wisdom and humility, illustrated with personal experience.
Susan Gray

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

103 of 104 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
In her slim volume Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction, Episcopal priest and spiritual director Margaret Guenther has provided a jewel of a book for those interested in spiritual direction, and more particularly, for those who are interested in becoming spiritual directors.
Spiritual direction is rather difficult to classify. It is part art, part science, part skill. It bears relations to pastoral care and psychological therapy, but there are important differences. `Spiritual direction is not psychotherapy nor is it an inexpensive substitute, although the disciplines are compatible and frequently share raw material. Spiritual direction is not pastoral counseling, nor is it to be confused with the mutuality of deep friendships, for it is unashamedly hierarchical.'
This hierarchy is one of the stumbling blocks for many, ironically particularly for those in the clergy. One must have trust in the spiritual director. To be a spiritual director, one must inspire trust, the kind of trust that enables the directee to understand that it is for that one's good that all effort will be focused. `What a gift to bring to another, the gift of disinterested, loving attention!'
Guenther's first chapter talks about this aspect of trust and attention by likening spirtual direction to a journey. Many spiritual writers have used the metaphor of the journey in the past, so frequently perhaps that it almost becomes an inside joke among some. However, Guenther's exploration of the importance of hospitality toward the stranger on a journey sets a good foundation.
For the spiritual director and the spiritual directee, many aspects of preparation are the same. A respect for silence, an importance placed on attention, and an openness and willingness for questioning are shared aspects.
Read more ›
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Patricia De Stefano (destefano@peoples.com.ar) on August 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
I am a reader from Argentina and really loved reading the book, which I found to be a very sensible and realistic approach to Spiritual Guidance. I am Roman Catholic, finished a two year chourse on Spiritual directiion and learnt a lot with M. Guenthers' book. She puts into words, in a very simple manner what Spiritual Direction is all about. Her examples are very clear and I found the book so interesting to read. I especially liked chapter 3, where she compares the director to a midwife. I have read many other books on this subject, bun none was so practical as this one.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
In this hospitable book of just four chapters, Margaret Guenther, professor and priest by profession welcomes us into her academic office -- transformed into sacred space by an icon here, a candle there, and a homey plaid rug in the middle of the room -- and introduces us to her amateur vocation, that of spiritual director. Her gifts as a good teacher prompt her to explain to us carefully and patiently what spiritual direction is ("holy listening"), what its purpose is ("to help people discover how to define themselves, not only in relation to the world, but also to God) and how she has learned over the years to go about it. In contrast to Alan Jones, who seems intentionally to avoid the "how-to" question in his Exploring Spiritual Direction, Guenther's book is packed with practical explanation of how she goes about the task of directing. Drawing on her experience with hundreds of directees over the years, she offers vignettes drawn from actual experience, which shed light on the process of direction, its pitfalls, and its benefits. Yet, however laced the book is from beginning to end with practical advice, it is not a "how-to" manual. For all of these practical tips are shared in the course of a free flowing meditation on key portions of scripture which have given shape to her understanding and practice of direction over the years. From Abraham's welcoming of strangers in Genesis 18 we come to appreciate that direction, too, involves hospitality. From Jesus' encounter with the rich young man in Mark 10 we are invited to consider what it means for the director to be a "good teacher" in the sense that Jesus was.Read more ›
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Sophia VINE VOICE on August 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
In "Holy Listening," Episcopal priest and theologian Margaret Guenther explores the ministry of spiritual direction, discussing it from the perspective of hospitality, teaching, midwifery, with a special chapter on women and spiritual diretion. Although she offers plenty of practical advice and suggestions, she avoids didactism, or lecturing. Her use of vignettes and stories are very helpful.
This book is invaluable both for a would-be or practicing director (or so I would imagine), or anyone currently receiving spiritual direction, or interested in pursuing it. In a very gentle, non-judgemental way, Ms. Guenther outlines stages, benefits and limitations of spiritual direction. Her writing style is warm, accessible, and engaging. An excellent resource for this ministry.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on February 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Margaret Gunther's book on Spiritual Direction is an excellent resource for all persons who are professionally involved in soul care, whether clergy, counselors, retreat directors, or spiritual directors. I've read many books on this subject, yet this one kept me engaged from cover to cover. I read it in one evening. If you are involved in spiritual ministry to people, get this book.

That being said, I wish Gunther had added two more chapters. I am sure she is qualified and I would like to hear her views on a couple of related subjects.

I wish she had set aside a chapter dedicated to future goals in spiritual direction. Her first two chapters on Holy Listening (introduction), Welcoming the Stranger (chapter one), and Good Teachers (chapter 2) were first class. Her chapter on Midwife to the Soul (chapter 3) didn't keep my attention as well, but was a great transitional chapter that brought a climax to her entire work. I wish she had inserted a chapter here on the ongoing relationship between the director and directee. She could have encouraged the director in hers or his own personal growth, identified some dangers involved with long term relationships, and given clearer advice on knowing when and how to break the relationship. She could have laid out some long term goals for spiritual direction.

I also wish Gunther had added a chapter on Men and Spiritual Direction. She is a woman and the majority of persons who come for spiritual direction are women (page 119). Still a nice chapter specifically focused on men would have been the perfect "icing on the cake" for this book. I am sure she would have done a good job. All through her book, Guenther writes with a sensitivity that is alluring to both men and women.

The inclusion of these two chapters would have bumped my score from a 4.5 to a solid 5 stars. As it is now, I'm just going to have to search through amazon.com for more works by this author.
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