Friday, July 15, 2011

Finding Our Way Again - Book Review

Finding Our Way Again:
The Return of the Ancient Practices
By Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle
Published by Thomas Nelson

It's not hard to observe that there are many people, Bible-believers included, who have lost their way spiritually. Many flounder for fulfillment in their spiritual journeys, often moving in directions that lead to dead-ends. McLaren's Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices explores some of the hows and whys of this, and suggests a number of ancient practices that can strengthen our relationship with God so that we no longer feel lost. He does not suggest that these practices are essential elements of the Christian walk, nor that they will lead us "closer" to God. He simply points out that they are tools -- some used for millenia -- that can enable us to see God in places we have, well, missed seeing Him along the way. Each chapter ends with "Spiritual Exercises" -- questions and suggestions that encourage the reader to think through and beyond the content of the chapter in order to make personal applications. The end of the book offers a chapter-by-chapter study guide that challenges the reader to explore each topic more fully, and there are also notes that enable study beyond the realm of the author's own text. 

I've never read any of Brian McLaren's work before, nor do I recall hearing anything about his books. While I found him to be a bit inclined towards discussing faith in general terms, as opposed to faith in Christ specifically, his convictions as a follower of Christ were clear, and I found myself agreeing with many of his comments about "religion" as it contrasts true faith. The beginning of most chapters seemed to rile me a bit for some reason, but I was heartily acknowledging the wisdom of his words by the end of each. I particularly appreciate the analogies he used to illustrate his points because they truly help to clarify his ideas for me. I also like the fact that his writing is scholarly, but not in a pretentious way. He presents facts and ideas about history and theology in ways that are easily accessible to the reader who may not be as well-versed in those subjects. What I like most about the book is that McLaren does not separate spiritual disciplines or practices from everyday life: he demonstrates the sacredness of all aspects of life, and challenges us to wake up and experience God moment-by-moment, day-in-and-day-out.

I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in historical and biblical faith practices, and to anyone that longs for a richer relationship with God.

As a member of BookSneeze, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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