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Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices Hardcover – May 4, 2008

3.5 out of 5 stars 125 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Prolific author and pastor McLaren is a big-picture guy. One of the most influential thinkers in the emergent church movement, he likes to analyze and categorize. This book, which inaugurates a series about traditional spiritual practices, paves the way for future installments by elaborating the big-picture rationale for spiritual disciplines: they cleanse us, enlighten us and bring us closer to God. As the title signals, they will also help us find our way past the unsatisfactory alternatives of secularism, dangerous fundamentalism and mushy spirituality. The former English teacher has a gift for the pithy phrase that nails a concept: faithing our practices is seeing the sacred value of everyday activities, for example. McLaren fans will enjoy his usual breadth of vision, easy style of exposition and synthesis of big ideas. His more conservative detractors may find him too generous in his references to the other two Abrahamic faiths in discussing spiritual practices. This book nicely opens the door for a series as well as a more disciplined Christian life. (May 6)
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About the Author

Brian D. McLaren (MA, University of Maryland) is an author, speaker, activist and public theologian. After teaching college English, Brian pastored Cedar Ridge Community Church in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area. Brain has been active in networking and mentoring church planters and pastors for over 20 years. He is a popular conference speaker and a frequent guest lecturer for denominational and ecumenical leadership gatherings in the US and internationally.


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Product Details

  • Series: Ancient Practices
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (May 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0849901146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0849901140
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #627,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Bob Hyatt VINE VOICE on May 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
So, all in all, I loved Finding Our Way Again. Loved it. Been carrying it around, sneaking pages when I could... I think I want to make it the text for our Life in the Way of Jesus theology pub, the one designed to introduce folks in our church to the disciplines. Not because the book itself is an exhaustive treatment of spiritual disciplines, but because in the whole sense of "If you want some people to build a boat, don't give them the plans, give them a love of the sea" this book will, I think, give people a passion for Christianity as a way of life which includes a set of common practices that enrich us, change us, and form us.

First, the quibble, then the good stuff.

The book is heavy on seeing commonality between the spiritual practices of Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Our beliefs about many things, most notably the person of Jesus, may divide us in some senses, but Brian brings out at the beginning and end of the book the fact that when it comes to practices like prayer, fasting, sabbath, reading/meditating on/memorizing the Scriptures, we have much in common. I asked him why he emphasized this and he gave me two reasons- 1st, the editor of the series asked him to. But second, Brian says he's an evangelist at heart. His desire is to tell everyone who wants to hear it about Jesus. In his mind, emphasizing our commonalities leads to friendships and relationships... and those are the lines along which the Gospel flows best. Imagine trying to talk to your Muslim neighbor about Jesus. Sound tough?
Now imagine trying to have the same conversation after you have shared meals together, walked and talked about how you pray, what things you pray for, how you try to order your life around times of fasting and sabbath... Makes it a bit easier.
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Brian McLaren never ceases to amuse me because he keeps on popping up in unexpected places and writing/speaking of unexpected topics. This time, he is speaking of the ancient spiritual practices or spiritual disciplines of the ancient church. However, I am not surprised because I see the coming convergence of the ancient-evangelical future church movement, the missional ecclesiology, and the emerging church movement.

I find McLaren's thesis for this book important for all Christians, if only they will stop criticising him long enough to listen to what he has to say. It was in the first chapter that he dropped the bombshell. He was telling a story about him conducting an interview with Dr. Peter Senge (father of systems theory and author of The Fifth Discipline). Senge was saying that in any bookstore, the best selling books will be on how to get rich and the second will be on Buddhism. Why Buddhism? Senge replied "I think it's because Buddhism presents itself as a way of life, and Christianity presents itself as a system of belief.'

McLaren went on to explain that what is important is not either/or but both/and. Christianity needs a system of belief and a way of life or else it is not relevant. It will not give to what people are searching for today. McLaren suggests that we (Christians) have to rediscover our faith as a way of life, shaped and strengthened by ancient practices (p.6).

In any discussion about the ancient practices, one usually comes to the contemplative versus the active life or the Mary/Martha conflict. McLaren's solution was rather simplistic in that he lumps it all in a circle and place it in heaven and earth.
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Format: Hardcover
Finding Our Way Again is a book you will want to keep close. Less a book than a spiritual guide, Mclaren focuses his attention on the reader - challenging each of us to take a close look in the mirror, especially if you call yourself a Christian. Early in the book he reflects on a conversation with Dr. Senge about why people seemed to be moving away from Christianity towards Eastern Religions. Senge says, "I think it's because Buddhism presents itself as a way of life, and Christianity presents itself as a system of belief." The rest of the book invites the reader to see Christianty as a way of Life that impacts all of life's moments, not just the holy hour on Sunday morning. Rejecting "militarist scienfitic secularism, pushy religious fundamentalism, and mushy amorphous spirituality", Mclaren points to a fourth way to enagage the spiritual life -- bringing ancient spiritual practices to bear on the emerging world. So if you are up to the challenge I encourage you to live your way through Finding Our Way Again, not only reading the text but also using the spiritual exercises to refresh your soul and your perspective of what it means to follow Jesus.

Craig Kennet Miller
7 Myths of the United Methodist Church
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Format: Hardcover
One of the earliest terms with which early followers of Jesus described themselves was that they were followers of "the Way." Many of us who are engaging in a new-found spiritual sense or who are trying to jump the spiritual wagon wheel rut we have been in look first for a "way," a process, or a list of ingredients to follow.

"The Ancient Practices" series from Thomas Nelson publishing seeks to aid people who are seeking a refresher course on some of the older spiritual practices of Christianity (and possibly of all the Abrahamic faiths). "Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices" by Brian McLaren seeks to be the introductory guide to this burgeoning series.

McLaren is overt about his belief that these ancient practices are not solely the property of the Christian faith, but are rather shared in common by the three Abrahamic faiths: Christianity, Islam, and Judaisim. It is for that reason that I will not be reviewing this book as a Christian book per-se, but as a devotional guide for members of all three of these faiths written by one who identifies with Christianity.

In this introduction, McLaren introduces several spiritual practices in the hopes that the reader will find a new sense of spiritual life and open the possibilities of that person's life. "Practice (or exercise) may not make us perfect," McLaren comments, "but...it does make currently impossible things possible." (p. 46). McLaren's point is that these practices do not in of themselves create a spiritually wise person, but that they are good habits to pick up which will promote a more spiritually healthy life. In other words, these practices won't buy you the gym membership, but they are good things to try out while you're there.
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