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on 9 June 2011
What a good book! Such a difficult topic to write about without sounding arrogant or self satisfied, and he manages to avoid both, with an admirable degree of honest self-reflection at the outset. He certainly got my sympathy on this in the first chapter. From there on I found it painful reading for several chapters, because while showing how easy it is to fall short, he certainly makes it clear how and why this happens, and one cannot help but cringe in reflection of one's own failures and failings. At least one begins to understand them better. There's an excellent chapter on grumbling - what is really going on when we grumble, and why it is so corrosive of our relationships, and so self-destructive. Ouch! I think this is really well done - no criticism of the reader or the reader's possible attitudes, just a gentle but firm analysis of what grumbling is and what happens when you do it. There is a lovely exploration of seeing the new - in people, places, cultures and ideas - beautifully connected to the awareness of who we are as people and how we pay attention and open ourselves to new possibilities, and how we change and enlarge ourselves in the process. I loved the stories he wove through the text of his own experiences - these were so helpful, and I resonated with so many of them. The luggage on the bus and the anxiety about losing it, and what a burden one lugs around with one worrying about all one's possessions. How painfully true. I thought this was a really excellent book and am so pleased to have found it, and feel I have grown just a little by being challenged and made to think about bits of myself I am not very proud of. Looking forward to his next book now!
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on 16 March 2011
The subject of Barefoot Disciple is humility - and what a tricky subject that is. Even to presume to talk about humility seems a little arrogant. And yet, in our very avoidance of the subject, in our dance of I-won't-presume-don't-look-at-me, we betray a deep misunderstanding of what humility really is. It is not the same thing as humiliation; in fact, it is something deeply to be desired. Stephen Cherry opens Barefoot Disciple with an interesting and challenging reflection on that very topic - and an assessment of just how important humility is. Yes, it's important enough to risk be called proud for daring to write a book about it!

How is it even possible for us to grow in humility? Cherry approaches that key question in a roundabout way, by first challenging some of our preconceptions about humility. There's a lot more to humility than meets the eye (how appropriate, right?) For one thing, he shows us that humility helps us to achieve more, because it helps us be resilient and try again after a setback: "it is precisely those with a humble attitude who will not be as damaged by failure as those arrogant enough to believe that they should expect to be successful at the first attempt."

The challenge, then, that he issues is for us to grow in humility. How is this possible, you might well ask? Certainly not by sheer willpower or direct effort: "For growth in humility does not come through a kind of sanctified self-help programme. Rather it comes from the realization that in the deepest, most important and fundamental matters we do not have the capacity to sort ourselves out. Growth in humility happens through a process not of instruction or education as such, but through openness and vulnerability."

Perhaps what I find most intriguing and exciting about Cherry's reflection on humility is his use of the adjective "passionate." At first, "passionate humility" seems like an oxymoron, but Cherry makes a convincing case that humility has depths and power to it that we too often disregard: "Passionate humility is humility with attitude, humility with edge. Passionate humility implies radical openness and costly vulnerability... This sort of humility is assertive and bold... Its concern is not to be modest but to be honest, not to be diffident but to be fully present, not to present the self but to put the self on the line for the kingdom of God."

Barefoot Disciple is a book that contains surprises - it doesn't tell you the same old things you expect to hear about humility, but instead guides the reader to look at a very important and too-often-disregarded virtue in a fresh way. A book like this could too easily be abstract, but because Cherry focuses on the practical, with real examples to illustrate his points, the book is very useful as well as interesting. Reading it won't make you humble, but it will help you find ways to open up your heart and your life to allow for the formation of that virtue.
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on 12 June 2012
The subject of the book is humility, which the author (a fairly high church Anglican at Durham Cathedral) acknowledges is very tricky to write about. Most of the first chapter is devoted to the challenges of writing about the subject without taking pride in the fact that one is humble.

This is what I would describe as a "lifestyle christianity" book. It's not self-help dressed up in christian clothes but neither is it a detailed theological study. Cherry picks out examples from his own life and draws on as many, if not more, secular sources as he does biblical quotations. In this respect, the writing style is not entirely dissimilar from that of C.S. Lewis.

The barefoot of the title is derived from Cherry's own experience of pilgrimages to Lindisfarne where some people went barefoot as they crossed the mud flat at low tide. The subtitle of the book, "walking the way of passionate humility," is sort of defined but is really demonstrated throughout the whole book. It is hard to sum up in a paragraph, so having made several attempts whilst writing this review, I decided not to and simply recommend that you read the book yourself.

What is core to Cherry's viewpoint that passionate humility goes firmly against conventional (or we might say `worldly') wisdom. It is not piousness or grovelling, where the example of Dickens' character, Uriah Heap, is held as an example of exactly what Cherry doesn't mean. This is far more affirmative, yet not self-seeking. It is the practicalities of `living out' this worldview that Cherry unpacks.

This is an intensely thought-provoking book and one that I would recommend to you to read at any time, not just during Lent/Easter.
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on 22 March 2011
Humility is an elusive virtue. It only comes when our focus is outward and the self is forgotten. This makes it hard to seek but according to Cherry not impossible. His book is written in a simple and easy to read style. He tells good stories to illustrate his points. And he makes some profound points. His distinctions between types of pride and humiliation are worth the price of the book alone. For a church still enthralled by the power models of the surrounding culture it is highly recommended.
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on 15 January 2011
Whether you are of the Christian faith, another faith, or no faith at all this book has a great deal to teach about the achievement of real fulfillment in all aspects of modern-day life by learning to understand the need for, and meaning of, true humility. The author's energetic, engaging and compassionate style makes the book's message both compelling and accessible.
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on 7 April 2011
While Stephen Cherry's writing style is clear and easy to follow I did at times find it a little too smooth despite the challenging content, so that I have to re-read certain sections to remember what was being said. However, the content continued to engage my thinking once I'd put the book down and I found that it's impact took effect quietly in between reads!
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VINE VOICEon 4 August 2015
This is a wonderfully thought provoking book on that most elusive virtue, humility.Stephen Cherry writes with candour and clarity and offers much for prayerful consideration, practical action and thoughtful living.
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on 10 September 2014
This book follows on very nicely from Barefoot Prayers - written so as to understand and to make the reader think without being too wordy and too intellectual.
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on 3 March 2012
An interesting little book, a bit disjointed, but makes better sense reading it for the second time. It was very thought provoking especailly during lent
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on 5 March 2016
This book is a must read. Well written. Powerful. Inspiring. Thank you Dr Cherry!
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