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Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit Hardcover – May 25, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“The rich lode of material in this book will appeal to individuals on a spiritual journey as well as to those who want to share their experiences of descending from the mind to the heart where all true wisdom resides.” (Spirituality and Practice)

From the Back Cover

Henri Nouwen, the world-renowned spiritual guide and counselor, understood the spiritual life as a journey of faith and transformation that is deepened by accountability, community, and relationships. Though he counseled many people during his lifetime, his principles of spiritual formation were never written down. Now, Michael Christensen, one of Nouwen's longtime students, and Rebecca Laird, one of Nouwen's editors, have taken his famous course in spiritual formation and supplemented it with his unpublished writings to create the definitive series on Nouwen's thoughts on the Christian life.

The first book in the series, Spiritual Direction, introduced readers to Nouwen's core concepts and how to live the ques-tions of the spiritual life. Now Spiritual Formation reveals Nouwen's sage advice on how to live out the five classical stages of spiritual development. Featuring a unique visio divina, a visual meditation, to help guide and focus prayer, this volume reveals Nouwen's profound wisdom on how to move from sorrow to joy, resentment to gratitude, fear to love, and how to live there in the center—the place where God dwells.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; unknown edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061686123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061686122
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #396,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andrew Demoline on November 7, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Henri Nouwen is one of those spiritual giants who are humble and small in stature and yet still manage to stand astride the landscape. I have read and enjoyed many of his books, and plan on rereading most of them over time. This particular book is a collection of previously published material arranged and republished by Christensen and Laird.

It is an outline of some of the major movements in spiritual formation, and the different stages of that formation. So, it is divided into three parts: Early, Midlife, and Mature movements. In each section, Nouwen urges the reader to move away from a negative spiritual stance (like illusion) and towards a positive one (like prayer). Along the way, the reader finds interesting parables and stories, as well as insights from mystics past, and, of course, much scriptural teaching.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is, however, not a book that I can read and fully appreciate all at once. Let me explain. I have read the entire book, but much of it is full of teaching that I simply cannot follow yet; I am not there yet. I noticed this particularly in the third section of the book, on mature movements. I appreciate what he is saying, but it is beyond me right now. This is no criticism, it is just unusual. This book is meant to be read over a lifetime. That said, I enjoyed it a lot. Nouwen's insights into the human heart are, as usual, profound and moving. His wisdom in walking the path of Christ is very appreciated.

Two sections I greatly appreciated were his thoughts on transforming time from chronos to kairos and his thoughts on Community. For time, he talks about changing it from bare sequencing, to time in which God is with us, sacred moments that we can fill with spiritual formation.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Spiritual Formation is one of three compilations of the thoughts and writings of beloved spiritual master Henri J. M. Nouwen. This is one of two volumes, with a third on the way, compiled by Michael Christiansen and Rebecca Laird of Drew University in New Jersey from Nouwen's 40 books. In this volume, they identify seven of the 26 or so "movements of the Spirit" identified by Nouwen, with spiritual exercises at the close of each chapter, as well as color plates of the artwork referenced in the practice of the exercises in visio divina. I would recommend that the reader also purchase "Spiritual Direction" Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith by the same authors as a companion volume. I just attended a four day seminar on this material with Christiansen and Laird, and can testify that it is good stuff from personable and knowledgeable Nouwen scholars.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is comforting, helpful and accurate psychologically and theologically.

I work as a lay person helping homeless alcoholics and addicts. Introducing them to spiritual principles is difficult at best since the spectrum of spiritual education is wide and practice of spiritual disciplines even wider among this group of people.. What is beautiful about Nouwen's writings and the way the editors compiled his thoughts for us to digest, is the appeal of the idea that our souls are in constant movement between inner polarities. Nouwen has identified 28 of these sorts of movements, seven of which are explored in this book. For people bereft of spiritual education, this concept is hopeful and non-judgmental without much denominational dogma to debate while feeding the soul. One of my favorite chapters explores the movement from Resentments to Gratitude --- so helpful in recovery.

For souls immersed in spiritual education it is helpful also. Using the spiritual disciplines he suggests will only move us further in the direction we want to go.... from Fear to Love, Illusion to Prayer, Sorrow to Joy and more.

Nouwen is both lofty and practical; his understanding of the human mind and heart is profound and compassionate. I am blessed in reading this book.
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Format: Hardcover
The nature of Spiritual Formation is at the core of Christian ministry – both for leaders and the people they serve. A common way of understanding spiritual formation is with progressive development stages where a person as they mature spiritually goes from one level to the next (or not) over a lifetime. Traditional Catholic mystical theology uses this approach with distinct passages of a journey toward God, as has popular contemporary modern stage theory writers such as James Fowler. An alternative approach that Henri Nouwen develops is of dynamic movements, seeing faith development more as cycles over a lifetime than as graduations from one level to another leading to perfection. The movements Nouwen invites his readers towards are from things that enslave towards things that brings liberation and life.

Nouwen was a pastor, professor, pastoral psychologist, and widely read spiritual writer of 40+ books including The Wounded Healer. After two decades of teaching, with appointments including Yale and Harvard, he worked as pastor with mentally challenged people at Daybreak’s L’Arche community in Canada. In his teachings he draws on Catholic mystical theology and a psychodynamic understanding of the soul, as well as broad experience of academia and pastoral ministry and counselling. Spiritual Formation, like the previous volume Spiritual Direction (2006) and the following Spiritual Discernment (forthcoming) that form a trilogy, is a posthumous book. It is compiled from his notes and manuscripts by his Yale student Michael Christensen and Rebecca Laird, while they were teaching spirituality and spiritual formation at Drew University.

The underlying invitation of the book is to descend from the mind to the heart to be shaped by God’s Spirit within.
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