- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company; 10 Anv edition (October 1, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0824519868
- ISBN-13: 978-0824519865
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 7.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (261 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World Paperback – October 1, 2002
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"A beautiful and sensitive book that reaches out to the believer." -- Church and Synagogue Library Association
"Anyone who is searching for the Spirit of God in the world today will benefit from reading it." -- Horizons
"For those unfamiliar with his work, this volume is a wonderful place to begin. Another significant achievement." -- Circuit Rider
"Gentle and searching. This Crossroad book is a spiritual primer for anyone seeking God." -- The Other Side --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
From the Publisher
Over 200,000 copies in print! When Nouwen was asked by a secular Jewish friend to explain his faith in simple language, he responded with his greatest legacy, Life of the Beloved, which shows that all people, believers and nonbelievers, are beloved by God unconditionally.
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Top Customer Reviews
I recently discovered Henri J. M. Nouwen (1932-1996) (pronounced Henry Now’-in), prolific spiritual writer, priest, professor, and pastor, and his teachings are like water for a thirsty soul. Nouwen espouses this message: We are beloved by God, and if we truly understand and believe that, it will change the way we live our lives.
The book was intended to be a letter to a Jewish New York intellectual friend of Nouwen’s named Fred, whom he met when Fred interviewed Nouwen while teaching at Yale Divinity School. They formed an unlikely bond and became lifelong friends, sharing each other’s deepest longings, fears, and doubts. After some years of knowing each other, Fred asked Nouwen to say something about the Spirit that his friends and he “could hear.” As Nouwen stated in his prologue: “He was asking me to respond to the great spiritual hunger and thirst that exist in countless people who walk the streets of big cities.” This book is the result of Fred’s request, and its tone is indeed that of a dear friend talking intimately and warmly to a “fellow-traveler searching for life, light and truth.”
The heart of Henri Nouwen’s teaching in this book is his conviction that regardless of our religious tradition, we are beloved by God, but our ability to share that gift of belovedness with others is only as great as our ability to claim it for ourselves. Why is it always easier to believe someone else is beloved by God than to believe I am? Nouwen believes “self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life, because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” He speaks of listening for that voice and believes once we hear it, we will keep trying to hear it ever more clearly. “Like discovering a well in the desert, once you have touched wet ground, you want to dig deeper.”
So Nouwen believes the most important spiritual journey of our lives involves claiming the truth of our belovedness and living into that truth by becoming the beloved…”letting truth of our Belovedness become enfleshed in everything we think, say or do.” To do this, we must explore ways the Holy Spirit moves in our lives. He believes we become the Beloved of God when we:
1) claim that we are taken.
2) know that we are blessed.
3) acknowledge that we are broken.
4) submit to being given.
Each of these four ways is explored beautifully and helpfully in simple terms, with real life examples. He speaks in the context of natural cycles and has a truly moving reflection on the relationship between life and death. “As the Beloved, I am called to trust that life is a preparation for death as a final act of giving.” He distinguishes between a “good death” and a “bad death.” Without being syrupy or unrealistic about the pain of death and loss, he speaks convincingly of our lives being like a seed that must die to bear fruit. “How different would our life be were we truly able to trust that it multiplied in being given away! How different would our life be if we could but believe that every little act of faithfulness, every gesture of love, every word of forgiveness, every little bit of joy and peace will multiply and multiply as long as there are people to receive it…and that—even then—there will be leftovers!”
LifeBelovedBookCoverOne fascinating insight I gleaned from this book’s pages is the notion that there is a distinction between talents and gifts, and that sometimes—perhaps often—our true gifts are buried beneath our talents. “We may have only a few talents, but we have many gifts. Our gifts are the many ways in which we express our humanity. They are part of who we are: friendship, kindness, patience, joy, peace, forgiveness, gentleness, love, hope, trust, and many others. These are the true gifts we have to offer to each other.” That is something I’ll be thinking about for a long time.
Ironically, as Nouwen relates in the epilogue, the book did not seem to resonate with Fred and his friends as much as Nouwen had hoped it would. For him, “it was writing for the ‘converted’ and not for truly secular people.” It did, in fact, appeal to thousands of Christian pilgrims who struggle through life trying to apply the Christian principles they’ve learned to the situations they encounter day in and day out.
It certainly resonated with me.
So without Fred, he would never have written the book, but it turned out to be more helpful to believers than to non-believers. “It is the mystery of God using his secular friends to instruct his disciples.”
Upon meeting journalist, Fred Bratman, Henri Nouwen discovered a deep desire to help Bratman understand what it meant to live a life as God's beloved. During an interview, while Nouwen was teaching at Yale, Bratman was sent to do a profile on Nouwen. As they talked, Henri asked if the journalist liked his job and was surprised to find Bratman did not. He was only doing the job because it was his job. When the interview was complete, they began to talk about more important thing in life and Nouwen felt a deep compassion for Bratman. He says in his book, "What was happening between us seemed to me quite similar to what happened when Jesus looked steadily at the rich young man and was filled with love for him." Mark 10:21. Beneath Bratman's heart of cynicism and sarcasm, Nouwen sensed a beautiful heart - one that longed to give, create, and live a fruitful life. The more he listened, the more he wanted to help. Thus began his teachings on how to live the life of the beloved.
The book is written as a very personal letter to a dear friend. In it, Nouwen takes time to explain in depth exactly what it means to be beloved, how he knows we are considered to be beloved, and why we should live as beloved children of God.
I found the book to be very inspiring. I especially enjoyed the chapter entitled "Broken." The profound truths in this chapter spoke to me personally. Nouwen stated, "Perhaps the simplest beginning would be to say that our brokenness reveals something about who we are. Our sufferings and pains are not simply bothersome interruptions of our lives; rather, they touch us in our uniqueness and our most intimate individuality". He also said, "Our brokenness is always lived and experienced as highly personal, intimate and unique. I am deeply convinced that each human being suffers in a way no other human being suffers."
If you're searching for insightful truths written in a caring and compassionate way, this book is for you. It is well written and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Written to a non-practicing person of faith, it offers an immediate connection to Christians aware of the disconnect with faith and culture. The Biblical claim, underneath the language of Beloved and particularly expounded upon in the writings of Henri Nouwen, speaks directly against the modern temptation to reduce human value to productivity.
A really good book.
While I am a serious book junkie ---
I find that some books are so renewing
of the spirit that having a copy in the CD
format allows me to revisit again and again
certain topics that speak to the moment...
This... is Nouwen speaking about brokenness
as blessing and prelude to being able to love
as we are loved.
The 4 themes... Chosen Blessed Broken Given
come to us in the Sermon on the Mount and
then again on Holy Thursday...
And today... in the evening news...
Ebola, Ferguson, Gaza, refugees, drought...
I have looked into the heart of a refugee whose
life journey is beyond all imagining... and then
this small smile begins and the words that are
whispered... God is good, all the time... as spoken
as the deeper truth. I forget so easily, and Nouwen
reminds so very well... God is good, all the time.