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Water from an Ancient Well: Celtic Spirituality for Modern Life Paperback – September 6, 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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When I was reading Water from an Ancient Well, I sometimes felt like I taking a spiritual pilgrimage to Cano Cristales, the most beautiful river in the world or the river of five colors. Located near the town of La Macarena in Colombia, South America, the river is famous for its colorful blotches of blue, green, black, and red causing some to call it the river that ran away to paradise. If you want to run away to paradise for a couple of days, and drink living water from a source unlike any other, read Kenneth McIntosh's deeply satisfying book. ----Leonard Sweet, best-selling author and professor.

This book offers profound insights into a very different way of living our Christianity. Kenneth McIntosh invites us to imitate the Celtic saints who were aware of God as a living presence in everybody and everything. If we were to take seriously what he offers us in this book, we would experience a paradigm shift in our approach to spirituality. ----Dara Malloy, author, Celtic Priest and Monk on Inis Mor in the Aran Islands, Ireland; author of The Globalisation of God: Celtic Christianity's Nemesis.

The author writes with humility; he does not prescribe. In the process, he takes us to places made sacred by inspired believers, depicting their lives as a romance that proved itself in everyday things. He invites us to enter into a similar divine love affair that involves the whole of life. This book could become a classic. ----Ray Simpson, author of Soul Friendship and Celtic Daily Light: A Spiritual Journey Through the Year; Founding Guardian of the International Community of Aidan and Hilda and Principal Tutor of its Celtic Christian Studies program.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Anamchara Books; 1 edition (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933630981
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933630984
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #971,412 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By N. Parish on December 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
Can I use that word to describe a book? As I started to read it, that's what I felt. It seemed as though the words were offering a soothing touch. Many books these days are written with a more firm air of assurance. The market is being innundated with books that are self-help books loosely based on scripture. They almost aggressively urge us to get our lives in order and be the best we can be. Water from an ancient well is refreshingly different. The author does not point us in a certain direction and order us to start running, rather, we are invited to sit and drink deep of wisdom that goes back hundreds of years. That's not to say we can be privy to some magical knowledge that scriptures failed to mention. No, it simply means that people down the ages have found the God of scripture to be generous in revealing Himself in other ways too (as the scriptures themselves testify).

I've not yet finished reading the book, but the author himself states in the introduction that it is not intended to be read simply in linear fashion. I've perused the chapter headings and will dip into them as I feel I need.

I'm no expert in Celtic Christianity, so I can't comment in any depth on the academic robustness of this book, but I can say that I found it an enjoyable read. Celtic Christianity was interwoven with themes from nature. Some people today might find it hard to allow nature to bear such a spiritual weight, but from a Christian point of view, I reckon that, as long as our appreciation and understanding of creation serves to inform and increase our understanding and appreciation of the Creator, we're not going to go far wrong.

The theme of water, in particular, runs through many of the chapters of this book (excuse the pun...).
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Kenneth McIntosh understands the beauty of Celtic Christianity. Historical Celtic Christianity was a part of the western region of the one, holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and it offers a rich alternative to modern day Fundamentalist Evangelicalism, This is a good introduction to Christianity to inspire many of Celtophiles. I recommend it to anyone interested in Celtic spirituality. I think there is a trend among older former Neopagans to come back to the Church and realize that there are many wonderful treasures in Celtic Christianity.
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Format: Paperback
Do you remember you high school history teacher quoting the saying, "If you do not learn from history, you will end up repeating it." Well, after reading Water from an Ancient Well, by Kenneth McIntosh, I'd say that might not be a bad idea.
The ancient well that McIntosh is referring to is Celtic Christianity. McIntosh paints a panoramic picture of Celtic Christianity, in his book, and then suggests that the church today might learn from them. Centuries ago Celtic Christians were practicing relational evangelism, living in both the spiritual and physical realms, nurturing their faith through tried and true spiritual disciplines, and caring for the creation in which they lived. The Celts of long-ago saw God in everything (panentheism), and comfortably lived in the tension between an all-powerful God of creation and a loving, forgiving, gracious God, who so loved the world .... McIntosh describes the Celtic Christians in a can-do-nothing-wrong manner. I'm sure they must have had their faults and weaknesses. There are probably even areas where modern day Christians might learn what NOT to do. But, on the whole, Celtic Christianity is a well full of cool, refreshing water that might be able to renew, refresh and perhaps even reform today's church.
Many of us are ill-at-ease with much of what the church has become. There is a comfortableness among many Christians; they don't expect much from God and don't do much for God. Today's church is criticized (I think rightfully so) by those outside its walls as being judgmental, self-righteous, and hypocritical. Evangelism is forced. Often more effort is expended in sustaining the congregation than in serving others. Branches of today's church are exclusionary, deaf to environmental concerns and intent on being politically powerful.
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This book is one that suits me, it fits like an old sweater and reminds me of all the things life has unlearned in me. I have told several friends that if they want a guide to spiritual faith that urges you forward gently, this is the book they need to get. It draws a soul back to reality and helps it realize that there are no better blessings than a child's smile and a fresh green meadow to rejoice in. There is so much baggage today in life, it's wonderful when a book like this comes along and unloads the baggage for our tired minds.
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Water from an Ancient Well by Kenneth McIntosh is one of the most quietly wise books I've read in a long time. "Like a Celtic knot, this book is meant to be enjoyed in a nonlinear fashion," McIntosh states in his introduction. Each chapter is a self-contained essay on a particular topic in Celtic Christian spirituality, with stories, theological-historical background, and applications for today. A lot of my favorites are here: St. Brigid of Kildare, the Gaelic hymn "Be Thou My Vision," the Celtic sunwheel cross, St. Columba, St. Brendan the Voyager, even Merlin the Magician. Quotes from C. S. Lewis, "the great Celtic theologian of modern times," are peppered throughout the book. My favorite chapters are the ones about the panentheism of John Scotus Erigena ("Every Bush Aflame: God Revealed in Nature") and the one about "Furred and Feathered Neighbors: Creatures of Grace," which shows how St. Columba, St. Brigid, and others related to their animal neighbors. If you're not familiar with Celtic Christian spirituality, Water from an Ancient Well is a great introduction. Even if you are familiar, this book is a great way to revisit some of these stories, poems, and prayers and learn new ones.
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