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Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices (Ancient Practices Series) Paperback – December 27, 2010
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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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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Top Customer Reviews
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. What he did was to repeat what Ignatius of Loyola was teaching the Jesuit during the counter-Reformation times of Martin Luther: the sacredness of the everyday life. This was also the teachings of other Christian mystics such as Margery Kempe. Recently discovered by the Protestants, it is now strongly advocated by Richard Foster, Diana Bass and Phyllis Tickle. The way of the Christian life is to be both active and contemplative at the same time.
As in other McLaren's books, I learned a number of new words to the English language such as `open-source spirituality' which McLaren use to mean Christians learning and mentoring from each other; `faithing our practices'; `otherliness' (mean love); and this memorable quote from Doug Pagitt "preaching without speeching."
This is a good introductory book to Christian spirituality and Christian spiritual disciplines. It is highly readable, written in McLaren's conversational style with lots and lots of stories to illustrate his points.
Judy Helm Wright aka "Auntie Artichoke", author and speaker