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The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming Paperback – Deckle Edge, March 1, 1994

4.8 out of 5 stars 576 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming is a spiritual adventure story. A chance encounter with a poster depicting a detail of Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son set in motion a chain of events that enabled Nouwen to redefine and claim his vocation late in his life. In this book, which interweaves elements of art history, memoir, Midrash, and self-help, Nouwen brings the parable to life with empathic analyses of each character. Nouwen's absorption in the story (and the painting) is so complete that the father's challenge to love the son, and the son's challenge to receive that love, become Nouwen's own. And Nouwen's writing is so clear and his tone is so appealingly frank and humble that readers--no matter how far from home--will find hope for themselves in the prodigal peace Nouwen ultimately achieves. --Michael Joseph Gross

From the Publisher

The beloved spiritual writer meditates on the parable of the prodigal son's return -- a powerful drama of fatherhood, filial duty, rivalry, and anger between brothers -- and its enduring lessons for Christianity.

Full-color photographs with gatefold.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 151 pages
  • Publisher: Image Books / Doubleday Publishing Group; Reissue edition (March 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385473079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385473071
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (576 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By F. Stewart on May 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
Fr. Nouwen's book was recommended to me by a counselor whom I was seeing about inability/unwillingness to break free of bitterness and forgive past and present hurts. I believe that Fr. Nouwen's tale of his spiritual progression, from seeing himself only as the "prodigal son;" to recognizing himself as the "elder brother;" and finally to recognizing God's desire that he become "the father" describes the "journey home" to which God's calls all His children: to come to the "place" of being forgiven and reconciled to God; to move on to the "place" of forgiving others based on our security in being loved by God; and finally to provide the "place" in our own hearts into which others may come to experience God's forgiveness and reconciliation.
Had I not read the convincing "portrayal" of this truth by Fr. Nouwen, I would not have believed it. This truth puts a whole new meaning to "being a member of God's household" - to be fully in the Father's house is to be a living extension of the Father's home, which is always welcoming! This is indeed a "high calling," and one that inspires me to strive even harder to cease allowing self-centeredness to hold me back.
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By A Customer on October 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
God's love is unconditional is real that is the message. I loved the book. I would also recommend An Encounter With A Prophet for the same message
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Format: Paperback
Henri Nouwen has a way of making us look into the places that we would rather not look. When we are drawn into this study of the Rembrant painting we find a darkness that leads us to an illumination of our own lives. In this book it is with great joy that we discover love and forgiveness as well as hope. This book is a must read for all Christians. In going to the place that I did not want to go I found the place that I needed to go. This is the best spiritual book that I have read in years. I wish we had published this book.
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Format: Paperback
What an incredible book. What a simple message, deeply explored and wonderfully exposited.
Henri Nouwen is a master of reflection, study, self-knowledge, and of writing beautiful, profound books. This book is amazing, perhaps life-changing. It has spoken to me in profound and deep ways, and I am deeply thankful for it.
Nouwen's main message, I think, is the unconditional, unfailing, all-surpassing love of the Father, this love that meets all needs easily. He puts himself in the place of the younger son, the older son, and the father, and considers this love - and the things that keep us from fully experiencing it - in all of these places, places that ring universal.
The media of realization here is the parable of course, but also Rembrandt's painting, Return of the Prodigal Son. It is profoundly helpful, fun, and provoking to consider this representation of the story and let it work spiritually in us, as it has in Father Henri. This book has more than opened my heart to the love of my Father, it has given me a new love for art, and a side education on Rembrandt and one of his most famous paintings.
In short, this is another truly rare, truly wonderful book from a modern mystic. Nouwen will be remembered, I hope, alongside Augustine, Lewis, and others I have yet to discover but now believe exist.
A sample:
"Home is the center of my being where I can hear the voice that says: "You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests"-the same voice that gave life to the first Adam and spoke to Jesus, the second Adam; the same voice that speaks to all children of God and sets them free to live in the midst of a dark world while remaining in the light. I have heard that voice. It has spoken to me in the past and continues to speak to me now.
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Format: Paperback
The Return of The Prodigal Son is one of those books with a special message that made me want to be a better person. If only it was that easy.
Henri Nouwen used his experiences and feelings surrounding the Rembrandt painting "Return of the Prodigal Son" coupled with time as the father at a group home for the severely handicapped as a back drop for this book. But it is not a book that is about his time at the home, nor it is a book that really reflects that he is a catholic priest. It has a universal message and is based squarely on scripture revolving around the story of the prodigal as well as insights gained from Rembrandt's painting
The pleasant yet challenging surprise of the book is how Nouwen takes the logical path from rebellious son through older brother and landing finally at the role of father and how the Father Himself calls us to become as He is. It is the first time I have read or heard a teaching that moves from the unrelenting love that the father has for the son in the story to the idea that God is calling us not just to accept His love as the younger son does once he realizes how lost he had become, but how God is calling us to become like Him and love the rebellious and lost as He does.
I found it very interesting how Nouwen see parts of Rembrandt's work as being reflections of or symbols of something great and true. These insights made the book more interesting than just a simple bible lesson on an old and familiar story.
Whether you find yourself in a foreign land or just outside the Fathers House, or whether you tend to feel a bit resentful that you're "following all the rules" and yet things just don't seem quite right this book has something important and powerful to say to you.
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