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Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words Hardcover – March 15, 2011
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“Wise, easy to read, and practical.” (Fr. Richard Rohr, author of The Naked Now)
“A rich, brilliant and important book: wonderfully readable and personal, filled with insight and wisdom, it invites us into practices that can transform our lives.” (Marcus J. Borg, author of Speaking Christian)
“Brian McLaren is a bridge builder. In these simple yet profound spiritual practices he perfectly marries his evangelical heart and contemplative soul, and we are all richer for the union.” (Cynthia Bourgeault, author of Centering Prayer and The Wisdom Jesus)
“McLaren’s trademark persuasiveness is put to good effect as he continues to shatter paradigms for spiritual seekers.” (Library Journal (starred review))
“Anyone wanting to conserve the spiritual spark in themselves will find this book a gentle and generous tract.” (Publishers Weekly)
“These stories are honest and kind and good... they illustrated the life of a real and raw experience of God and the human responses we offer.... This guidebook to simple words for a not so simple spirituality is an incredible gift, a true asset to us, bread for the journey.” (Hearts and Minds)
“McLaren both charts an arc of the spiritual life and suggests practices to nurture [it]. . . . McLaren deserves endless thanks for reminding us that estrangement and no do not represent a breakdown of the spiritual life. . . . Naked Spirituality is very astute.” (Christian Century)
From the Back Cover
Christianity is in crisis. Many sincere Christians feel their traditional Christian practices are in danger of becoming irrelevant, empty rituals. In his previous book A New Kind of Christianity, Brian D. McLaren offered new biblical models for how we understand the central ideas of a faith that provides hope for restoring and reinvigorating the power of the gospels to transform us and our communities.
In Naked Spirituality, McLaren takes his prophetic work a step further by confronting how the lack of a simple, doable, durable spirituality undermines the very transformation God is calling us to undergo. As a result, our religious structures become tools to maintain the status quo and not catalysts for personal and social change. McLaren presents a four-stage framework for understanding the spiritual life, and he unfolds spiritual practices appropriate to each stage. Each practice is rooted in a simple word: here, thanks, O, sorry, help, please, when, no, why, behold, yes, and silence. Naked Spirituality offers accessible, practical wisdom for living a truly spiritual life. Staying true to Jesus's core message while engaging faithfully with our postmodern world, McLaren presents a proven spiritual program for engaging in and sustaining a meaningful relationship with God.
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The premise is simple: McLaren has chosen 12 words to reflect on the seasons of the spiritual journey: Here, Thanks, O, Sorry, Help, Please, When, No, Why, Behold, Yes, and [...] He uses three words each as contemplative metaphors for the four seasons of Simplicity, Complexity, Perplexity, and Harmony. Because he is using the analogy of the year or cycle, he offers the opportunity for the reader to consider our journeys less as a trip (from point A to point B) and more in line with a wandering (passing the same point more than once, but always in a slightly different emotional-spiritual-psychological space.)
McLaren's reflection on his own voyage of discovery was like having a lively, challenging, and vulnerable companion beside me. There were times when I said, "Finally I have words to describe what I felt during that experience." There were other times when something that had been lurking in the back of my heart snapped into sharp focus.
McLaren's honesty encourages honesty in his readers, and a willingness to move deeply beneath the surface of events to explore the meanings, the blessings, and the shadows.
Having used the book with groups, I would say that literal folks have a harder time with the imagery and metaphors he uses (which, personally, I found enormously helpful -- ) It is also probably not a good book for those who tend toward believing that there is one right answer to questions about faith. Depending on where a person is emotionally, it might be the tipping point book -- inviting her or him into an expansive and divine space. It could also simply be an exercise in frustration when McLaren gently suggests that God is likely larger than any one answer we might believe we "have."
If, however, you are someone who is seeking a companion to challenge your own status quo and nudge you to look openly at your own "givens" and biases...you have found the person in McLaren.
really "connect" with it. However, I do know that Brian McLaren is a very popular and
prolific writer. While I did find some his writings very inspirational, mostly it was not
thought provoking for me. So I would have to conclude that ones response to this
book may vary greatly and be very individualistic.
There was another Brian McLaren that I found more stimulating and thought
provoking. This book is "Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Budda and Mohammed Cross
the Road? I would recommend this book more highly. Don't let the title deceive you,
this is a book of substance, in my opinion.
For those followers of Jesus for whom the traditional language and practices of spirituality are second nature, as well as those for whom those words and what they represent are difficult to approach, McLaren, McLaren provides new vocabulary and an invitation to continue on the journey of faith moving toward spiritual nakedness or authenticity. I find McLaren's work, in general, to be theologically thoughtful and pragmatically helpful in moving the church of the early twenty-first century more fully into the present. While Naked Spirituality is no exception, it did not reach as far nor did it resonate as fully as have other recent texts. Furthermore, the stage theory itself is a bit forced, but this problem is overcome to some degree by the advice to live each stage well and to see all twelve as leading to the final word: love.