235 of 242 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2001
Life of the Beloved is among the final books published by Nouwen, and in that way is kind of a culmination of much of his life and thought and is thought by many to be his "flagship" work. Truly, it doesn't get much better than this. Reading this book as a Christian can be a mind and, hence, life altering experience. It was written to some of Henri's non-Christian friends about how much God loves them (which is certainly true!). And from the way Henri's life consistently pointed towards Jesus and the Gospel, I am sure that his friendship, love, and words to them in conversation were used by God for the good of the hearers. On that note, I would caution using this book alone as something to give to your non-Christian friends; because as Henri used it, it is best backed up by your life, love for your friends, and pointing them towards Jesus in your day to day life, and not as a gift without a relationship.
The book is clear, and ultra-concise (you could probably read it in a day or two); yet, the message, of how to live as the Beloved of God amidst a world where there are lies about your identity at every turn, could not be more fundamental to how a Christian lives their life. I wholeheartedly recommend and in fact strongly encourage all Christians to read this book.
114 of 116 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2000
There is so much in our every day lives that tries to make us believe that we are no good; we do not count; we don't measure up. Many of us have begun to learn those messages as a small child. Henri Nouwen has a way of letting you know that you do matter and are precious in God's sight. In spite of the fact that I have studied theology, I found that when stressed, a feeling of emptiness often overcame me that I could not explain. I knew that God loved me. I knew that God loves everyone. However, that knowledge was in my head. At a continuing education event, a new friend gave me a copy of this book, urging me to "read it soon". The knowledge that I was loved beyond my wildest imagination sank from my head into the rest of me. I felt joy and love like I had never known before. A silly feeling that I wasn't entitled to all that love was quickly dispelled by the knowledge that God has more love for each of us than we can imagine - even when we become overwhelmed and feel "like bottomless pits of human need". What a liberating word of joy that continues to fill my very being. Read it! You'll be glad you did!
66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2003
During a time of personal uncertainty, emptiness and sadness, the mere title of this book moved something inside of me; enough to purchase it with the strong intent of reading it, later that evening. Needless to say, I tried several times, but never felt in the mood, although, I knew it would be a good read.
Six months later, experiencing the same feelings, I took a trip to visit some terminally ill, elder family members and carried this book, as part of my reading.
Well!! A good read doesn't begin to describe this book!! It is powerful, enjoyable, moving, easy to read, entertaining, thought provoking, emotional, educational, nurturing and full of love. WOW! All that packed into 119 pages! It is simply written, as though, the author was conversing with me and yet, in other parts, I could hear the Voice of God telling me very simply, that I was BELOVED, a child of His. The power of this book is so Amazing!! As, I write these words, I have an intense feeling of being loved, emotional stirrings in the bottom of my gut and goosebumps on my arms. I am more in touch with God in my daily life, His loving and tender Presence and Voice everywhere, in everything. This book has changed my prior feelings of emptiness, sadness and uncertainty to a more joyful, simple, thankful, childlike approach to living, a sense of peace within myself, a clarity and certainty of my path in life and a powerful, moving love for God in my moment to moment living. Is my life 100 % perfect? Yes, and No, but as I work with God towards that moment of Utopia; I am thankful, centered and at peace in the knowledge that I am BELOVED, safe in God's Love for me and that everything will unfold, exactly as it is meant to be for me, with my prayer,love,faith and willingness to see God's message for me. This book has not only energized my faith, but also my life perspective, direction and relationships. Please note, as a Renaissance type of person and avid reader of all types of books, never before have I felt the need to review a book. This is a timely and perfect book for our high anxiety modern times. This book is on my gift giving and sharing list. Life of the Beloved by Henri J.M.Nouwen is a MUST for all, who believe in God or the Universe or a Power greater than us, whatever your faith...This Book will touch Your SOUL and Change your Life!!
69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 1999
Henri Nouwen's Life of the Beloved provides the reader with a look at how we are all blessed, broken, and given in the Name of the Lord. He originally wrote the book for a friend who asked him about God and spirituality. Nouwen provides the reader with an insight into how God's choosing each one of us as His beloved does not necessarily mean anyone is excluded, a paradox which our society fails to understand and thus rejects. A very insightful book, that is very imporant to me in my journey of faith. Nouwen was a Catholic priest, and I recommend his works to all, especially Catholics.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 1999
This is an excellent book for someone who has never read Nouwen's writings. The book carries a great message of hope; that God, who created us in his image and likeness, calls us to live our lives with the knowledge that we are His "beloved" children and that He is always calling us to a deeper love and intimacy with Him.
In response to negative reviews of this book because it doesn't beat you over the head with purely Christian messages, there is much to be said for Nouwen's reaching out to people of all faiths and gently leading them to think about what God's will is for their lives, and how they are called to live - in love and in loving others. Isn't that Jesus' ultimate message to all of us?
44 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2002
I have read several of Nouwen's books and this is one of my favorites. He writes from a totally different perspective in an effort to speak to the community of one of his closest friends (of a different faith). Nouwen explores the concept that we are all called as being beloved and that we all feel that deep within.
I was very impressed that in the epilogue Nouwen humbly acknowledges his own shortcomings in the book's ability to speak to those outside his own faith. While Nouwen may not have succeeded (in his mind) with the book's original intent - as a non-catholic this book spoke deeply to me in regard to our being called.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
People have been telling me to read Nouwen for years. I finally picked this little volume up, and if the rest of his oeuvre is anything like this, I'll be reading a lot more by him.
In the book, Nouwen is attempting to speak to a secular audience, and such a project would demand that Nouwen understand the difficulties of secular society. Nouwen, of course, does possess such understanding. He speaks gently, but probingly, of the ills, the pains, of contemporary life, and he lovingly and persuasively urges that the reader seek healing by recognizing his/herself as beloved by God and by pursuing the sort of life that would be framed by that knowledge.
The images, the stories, and the prose Nouwen utilizes are all just gorgeous. His depiction of contemporary life is insightful and loving, and his message, though simple, possesses such surprising wisdom. This is a book I expect to return to many times in my life, and I'd recommend it to anyone.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2005
Listening to the audio version read by Nouwen in my car on my way to work, it didn't seem that big of a deal. But by the second day of listening on my commute, something happened. I noticed myself interacting with co-workers in good humor where only days before I experienced anger bordering on rage. Suddenly other people seemed transformed. I held the door for a woman, a total stranger, carrying packages at the mall and she said, "God bless you today." I stopped hating my job. I stopped hating the traffic on the freeway. Externally, nothing in my day-to-day life was any better, but I felt better. Nothing outside me had changed, but something in me had changed.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2005
i read Nouwen's 'the life of the beloved' yesterday and was moved by its simplicity and wisdom. the main theme of the book is that each person is God's beloved child, uniquely loved and gifted by God. Nouwen bases this theme from the story of Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River by John the Wilderness Prophet when the Spirit of God came down and a voice was heard proclaiming Jesus as God's beloved son in whom he is well pleased.
Nouwen expands the idea of belovedness to a communion metaphor, explaining that while each person is factly the beloved we must learn to become that which we are. Nouwen uses four themes from the sacremental act - 1) taking/chosing; 2) blessing; 3) breaking; 4) giving. He describes the process of becoming the beloved as our learning to live as people who are chosen by God, blessed by him, stuck in a broken world, and ultimately finding our highest fulfillment in being given to others.
it is a moving book that is easy to read. Nouwen lays things out clearly and offers suggestions that are practical and light for groiwng in our understanding of being the beloved. the idea that God has chosen each of us and has speokn words blessing into our life is not profound or new, but owning this fact and letting it impact the deepest parts of us is something that not a few Christ-followers today struggle with.
how much different would this world be if its people were gripped by the fact that God is a lover who wants to be loved by his creation? how much different if people spoke words of blessing to one another rather than condemnation and judgement? how much different if we grew in strength and faith through our brokeness instead of becoming hardened and depressed? how much different if people's sole focus was to give themselves away to one another in loving acts and relationship instead of exploition and selfish ambition?
'the life of the beloved' can be read in a couple hours, but putting its principles into play is something that requires much more time and intentionality to accomplish. the length of journey should not be a deterient however. what else is life about, besides partnering with God to become the way he designed us to be and to help him in reclaiming this world from the darknesss that engulfs it. beocming the beloved and living in the light of this truth will go a long way in a kingdom of God mission.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 1999
In a world that confuses and recreates what we think is important, this book challenges the reader to an inner depth that can change and enrich their life. If you have forgotten or have never realized who you really are, this book will serve as a thought-provoking guide....a guide that takes the reader back to the God who chose them and loved them just as they are.