The Nouwen book is light on theology, low on Christianity, heavy on kindness. Overall, I really liked it because of, and not in spite of, those things. I agree, personally, with what he says in the epilogue.
“I feel a deep rooted resistance to proving anything to anybody. I don’t want to say: ‘I will show you that you need God to live a full life.’ I can only say: ‘For me, God is the one who calls me the Beloved, and I have a desire to express to others how I try to become more fully who I already am.’”
I know a lot of Christians that would declare that cowardly and un-Christian but I doubt most of them live a life half as dedicated to God as this priest and that’s one of the best ways to spread the word of God in my opinion – leading by example. This is also why I don’t think it matters if he’s yammering on about Jesus specifically. He’s obviously Christian by job description and so this book is great to me because all the promotion of the faith is done through modeling its love and application without the theological quagmire.
So it’s about what one is interested in reading. My theologian friend Holly recommended this book saying something like, “It’s a nice amount of spiritual in good places.”
“All of the “teachings” of the book can be put to great use by someone with no religious beliefs at all. So, in the end, it’s just another book about loving your neighbor. Telling us, once again, it’s in the giving, not the taking, that we find happiness, and maybe even god. But this could be any god.
I’m not complaining. It’s a nice, light read, and I found myself re-reading a good portion of it, due to its insights. But if you are looking for a book to give to your atheist or secular friend to describe the spiritual life, Keller does a better job convincing us that the only true god out there is the triune god. Nouwen’s god is us.”
Agreed. But I like this side of Christianity. It gets less air time and should get more in my opinion. Nouwen’s God is rooted in community and human interaction, which I love because it’s all we truly know. And I love the kindness he encourages not just for others, but for us especially.
Jamie liked the blessings chapter. Me too! But I had a thing for the brokenness discussion. Holding our flaws under the light of belovedness or in more secular terms “an umbrella of self love and acceptance” is good stuff that people need to hear. And the spiritual nature of the book, to me anyway, helps that advice sound less like psychobabble and more like a sacred act.
All in all, a gentle and sweet book that is easy to read and to recommend. Not a conversion book at all. More a connection book. This makes it, in my opinion, a perfect secular or theist read.