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Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit
 
 

Spiritual Formation: Following the Movements of the Spirit [Kindle Edition]

Henri J. M. Nouwen
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Review

Lovers of the work of Henri Nouwen, and their number is justifiably legion, will welcome this latest work from the pen of one of the most celebrated spiritual writers of our era. --Lawrence S. Cunningham, John A. O'Brien Professor of Theology, The University of Notre Dame

Henri Nouwen was one of the great spiritual masters of the modern age. His beloved writings have helped millions understand that no matter where we are, God can meet us there. Read this brand-new compilation of his writings and conferences, and let Henri Nouwen accompany you with his trademark wisdom, acuity, common sense, erudition and, most of all, compassion and help you encounter God more fully in your daily life. --James Martin, SJ, author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything

Product Description

“Henri Nouwen was one of the great spiritual masters of the modern age. His beloved writings have helped millions understand that no matter where we are, God can meet us there. Read this brand-new compilation of his writings and conferences, and let Henri Nouwen accompany you—with his trademark wisdom, acuity, common sense, erudition and, most of all, compassion—and help you encounter God more fully in your daily life.” — James Martin, SJ, author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything

Led by the writing of beloved, bestselling author Henri Nouwen (With Open Hands, Reaching Out, The Wounded Healer, Making All Things New), the authors of Spiritual Direction, return with the second work in this popular spirituality series on how to live out the five classical stages of spiritual development.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 634 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books (31 Aug 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003P2W3PU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #108,655 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Depth, with simplicity 12 May 2014
By Pumba
Format:Kindle Edition
Deep, with wonderful simplicity and vulnerability.
A book to read and reread again and again at different levels of understanding.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 19 Oct 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Thought provoking
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nouwen presented with the aid of friends 14 Jun 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I've never liked Nouwen much. His concern with himself, usually rather sad concern, gets up my nose, as does his 'self-help' and ratehr patronising attitude towards 'groups,' and contrived style of writing. (I did enjoy parts of his book, 'The Prodigal Son, 'some years ago.) 'Spiritual Formation' was recommended for a purpose so I bought it. Very expensive for the few pages and half a dozen art reproductions. The front cover is pretty. The book concerns spiritual formation for individuals and groups. I found a few insightful passages but most of what he wrote, or was reported as writing was well-known, basic stuff like Lectio Divina, which has been practised in the Anglican and Roman Catholic church for centuries. So has 'the way of the heart' and honest prayer. Neville Ward's book on Prayer is far deeper and more radical and very much more honest. I wouldn't recommend Nouwen's Spiritual formation, except for people who are absolute beginners in the Christian faith, and who want to discuss things in groups, and even then, I'd prefer Ward's 'Prayer.'
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Spiritual Formation" by Henri Nouwen 8 Nov 2010
By Andrew Demoline - Published on Amazon.com
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. For community, Nouwen argues that community is not a place of safety and familiarity, but a place of forgiveness and celebration. Those are just two examples from a book full of goodness.

Conclusions: 5 Stars. Recommended. Though every chapter will not speak to where you are now, something will, making this book more than worthwhile.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent Nouwen resource 31 Jan 2011
By Keith C. Kirchartz - Published on Amazon.com
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Valuable reflective book for understanding paths for spiritual growth, descending from the mind to the heart 4 Dec 2013
By Darren Cronshaw - Published on Amazon.com
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. It asserts the importance of a well-formed heart as a foundation for a well-formed life, or the need to start with soul-work within and let that lead outwards in community and to ministry. The key to spiritual formation, and ultimately to community building and ministry fruitfulness, is not mass organization and management skills but discernment of movements of the Spirit within. The basic task of the church, or by extension theological education, is to help people communicate with God as the source of life.

The book is structured around seven chapters of seven movements divided across early, midlife and mature movements. (Maybe Nouwen is still influenced by, albeit not limited to, some life stages.) Each chapter includes a “Henri story” as a parable that can be read slowly with lectio divina (divine or sacred reading). To get away from reliance on words, each chapter also offers a favourite “Henri icon” or image – including Van Gogh paintings, Rublev’s icon and Antonio’s sculpture of Woman Dancing – that can be used for visio divina (divine or sacred seeing). The aim is to move from skeptical and utilitarian reading and viewing to let images as well as words help us connect with God and nurture and unify our minds and hearts. Journal and application sections give the reader a basis for deeper contemplation and/or group work. Each chapter describes a condition of human experience and where that can lead to as we descend from our heads to our hearts, and be formed and reformed by God’s Spirit.

The first ‘early movement’ is from opaqueness to transparency, to unmask desire for control and possessiveness that sees nature, time and people as tools to use, and instead see them as gifts to enjoy and learn from. The challenge is to be who really are, see others as they are, and help others see God and themselves as they really are. The second early movement is from illusion to prayer, a helpful reminder to move from the illusion of self-importance and preoccupation to make space to experience God. Unlike a driven life where identity depends on the illusion of achievements and possessions, a prayerful life can be content to simply waste time and be alone with God. This movement helps teach that productivity does not define us and that our worth is not a reflection of our usefulness. This is a very practical chapter – outlining how to choose a time, place and patter for prayer, and advice on focusing.

Reflecting on the ‘midlife movements’ was especially welcome for this 41-year-old reviewer. Movement from sorrow to joy comes as we dare to cry and realize we are not alone in our loss, of lost friends, dreams or what might have been. Movement from resentment to gratitude occurs as we give up defending ourselves and judging others, and be grateful for how we can enjoy and serve where we are. Says Nouwen, “Let us not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now, receive it with gratitude, and see it in the light of a loving God who guides us day by day” (Kindle, loc 1365). And movement from fear to love emerges as we stop trying to control the future by fearfully hoarding and clinging, and instead open ourselves up to be loved and to love.

The ‘mature movements’ are from exclusion to inclusion, letting go of the prejudice and worry that leaves little room for hospitality, to grow into radical hospitality and including even people who are very different. Nouwen explored this academically as a teacher but lived it where he found his true home as a pastor at Daybreak, living and working with people with disabilities. The other mature movement is finally from denying to befriending death, acknowledging our finitude and the communion of saints we will join. This is Important as we get older, and for someone like me I may be half way through life (at 41 hopefully not quite, but just as likely past halfway; I need to come to terms and ‘befriend’ that reality.)

Nouwen puts his finger on many of my weaknesses and sins, and the invitations to growth and maturity that I become aware of in quiet times of solitude and reflection. Awareness comes equally in times of conflict and challenge, which I learned as I wrote this review while travelling in a week of resentment about conflict with a host, fear after theft from my credit card and sorrow from disappointment it was not the pilgrimage we had hoped; plenty of opportunity to practice the movements. Formation is a lifelong and ongoing journey to move along these polarities away from things that drain us and towards that which is life-giving. This is a valuable reflective book for personal use and for pastors, spiritual directors and counselors to understand growth paths of those they listen to.

[This review was originally published in Pacifica 26:3 (October 2013), 336-338.]
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Guide for Mentors 27 Sep 2010
By Jerry Hollis - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have been reading Henri Nouwen since the 1960's and have found inspiration and wisdom in most of his works. I believe that Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Direction are two of the most helpful and practical guides I have found for those of us who find ourselves in a mentoring role. Not only is there counsel for developing others in their spiritual walk, but much is provided for the mentor to reflect on his or her own spiritual life. I can't wait for the third volume in this series!
5.0 out of 5 stars Because It Was Nouwen I expect to like it more 28 Jun 2014
By Rodney L. Graves - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Liked the book particularly because it did a great job on its subject matter. The way he talked about the Spirit gave depth to the 3rd person of the Trinity. Sometimes I've lost interest in books on the Holy Spirit because some "try too hard" to either be esoteric or denominationally correct instead of being more ecumenical.
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