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Lifesigns: Intimacy, Fecundity, and Ecstasy in Christian Perspective Paperback – January 23, 1989
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I especially liked the chapter on fecundity, a word not much used these days. He focuses on the difference between being fecund or "fruitful" vs. productive. In our post modern culture, we have the daily, desperate experience of living without bearing fruit. We are busy producing but little is life giving or fruitful. He has some good thoughts and practical solutions. He is so very warm and enjoyable to read.
I'm looking forward to reading this book again.
However, despite my general disappointment with Nouwen's writing, I will concede that reading "Lifesigns" was much more helpful than his other books. The book is framed around the assumption that humans are basically driven by fear. Using John 15 as the starting point for his conclusions, Nouwen suggests that intimacy (love), fecundity (fruitfulness), and ecstasy (joy) are the solutions that God offers us for our fear-filled lives.
Though some of the book did not connect with me, due to the nature of Nouwen's writing style and his starting assumptions that don't really apply to me, there were two major points that resonated well with me. First, I especially appreciated the way that he described the difference between productivity and fruitfulness in the section about fecundity. Though this general idea was not brand-new, he painted a compelling vision for why our purpose in life is not simple productivity (despite American cultural expectations) but rather a fruitfulness that is much fuller and more meaningful. The distinction between the two may seem somewhat illusive, but Nouwen explains it well.
The other high point of the book for me was Nouwen's rather dramatic critique of the American foreign policy which orients around the premise that security and maintaining power are the most important functions of the government.Read more ›
Vanier said to Henri Nouwen at a retreat, "Working with mentally handicapped people, I have come to recognize that all human beings, whatever their condition, are called to intimacy, fecundity, and ecstacy." Jesus refers to this holy triad in John 15 4-17: "Remain in me, and I will remain in you." (15:4) This certainly is an invitation to intimacy. "If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (15:5). This is a call to fecundity. "I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." (15:11). Here we have ecstasy. In this book Nouwen shows how the relationship of these three Christian elements are essential to a life of love and hope.
Intimacy is a divine gift allowing us to transcend fearful distance as well as fearful closeness, and to experience a love before and beyond all human acceptance or rejection. The opposite side of the coin of intimacy is solidarity. We cannot claim intimacy with God if we ignore our fellow human beings. It becomes our task to strive toward harmony among all people thereby our "intimacy manifests itself as solidarity and solidarity as intimacy." (Nouwen, p. 45).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An easier read than most of Nouwen's other books, but with a depth that transcends it's simplicityPublished 12 days ago by LEOJax
This book, while not necessarily one of his masterpieces, is still delightfully trademark Nouwen. It is broken up into three sections involving Intimacy, Fecundity, and Ecstasy. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Pen Enthusiast
One of Nouwen's best, particularly when it comes to understand love, fear, intimacy and fruitfulness!! Both psychologically and spiritually instructive!!,Published 20 months ago by Joe Freeman
Recommend this book for anyone who seeks a life worth living and seeks to center themselves in the presence of God...Published 21 months ago by Jeanette Callahan
Yet again, I am profoundly blessed and challenged by Nouwen's writing. The call of this book to move from the house of fear to the house of love may be the call of our day.Published 22 months ago by Samuel C. Schaar
Makes the questions of relationship to God simple and understandablePublished 22 months ago by Irene Cool