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The Rebirthing of God: Christianity's Struggle for New Beginnings [Hardcover]

John Philip Newell

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Book Description

15 Sep 2014
Dare to imagine a new birth from deep within Christianity, a fresh stirring of the Spirit.

The walls of Western Christianity are collapsing. In many parts of the West that collapse can only be described as seismic.... There are three main responses or reactions to this collapse. The first is to deny that it is happening. The second is to frantically try to shore up the foundations of the old thing. The third, which I invite us into, is to ask what is trying to be born that requires a radical reorientation of our vision. What is the new thing that is trying to emerge from deep within us and from deep within the collective soul of Christianity?

from the Introduction

In the midst of dramatic changes in Western Christianity, internationally respected spiritual leader, peacemaker and scholar John Philip Newell offers the hope of a fresh stirring of the Spirit among us. He invites us to be part of a new holy birth of sacred living. Speaking directly to the heart of Christians those within the well-defined bounds of Christian practice and those on the disenchanted edges as well as to the faithful and seekers of other traditions, he explores eight major features of a new birthing of Christianity:

Coming back into relationship with the Earth as sacred

Reconnecting with compassion as the ground of true relationship

Celebrating the Light that is at the heart of all life

Reverencing the wisdom of other religious traditions

Rediscovering spiritual practice as the basis for transformation

Living the way of nonviolence among nations Looking to the unconscious as the wellspring of new vision

Following love as the seed-force of new birth in our lives and world

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About the Author

John Philip Newell, internationally acclaimed teacher, retreat leader and speaker, is the widely read author of several books, including Listening for the Heartbeat of God, Praying with the Earth and A New Harmony: The Spirit, the Earth & the Human Soul. Formerly warden of Iona Abbey in the Western Isles of Scotland, he is now companion theologian for the American Spirituality Center of Casa del Sol at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico and the co-founder of Heartbeat: A Journey Towards Earth's Wellbeing.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational and hopeful 25 Jun 2014
By Gary D. Jones - Published on
John Philip Newell's new book is an inspiring and prophetic meditation on one of the most important phenomena in the world today. Much is being said and written about the decline of traditional Christianity, and people are simultaneously noticing the burgeoning interest in matters of faith and spirituality, contemplative prayer and healing, theology and spiritual practice. Cynthia Bourgeault, an Episcopal priest, author, and much-sought-after teacher on centering prayer, has said that she can't decide if she is a hospice worker or a midwife. Clearly, something is dying, but something is also coming to life. John Philip Newell sees this dying and rising again as a sacred moment in history that calls for reverent attention.

Throughout the book, John Philip provides vignettes that beautifully illustrate his reflections. In the introduction, he tells of a worship service he attended at the abbey on Iona. All of the worship leaders were women, the exact opposite of the tragic gender imbalance that plagued so much of Christian history, and John Philip was somewhat irritated that at least one or two men could not be found to serve. But then he remembered that it was the women in Jesus' day who stuck around as Jesus was dying and who even came to anoint his body for burial.

"Instead of seeing [this worship service] as a communion procession," he writes, "I begin to experience it as a funeral procession. Instead of bread and wine being carried forward for the sacrament, it becomes in my soul's eye the Church as body of Christ being borne for burial.... The women have not fled at the death. They are faithfully tending the body with care, with reverence. And such huge sorrow. This is death. This form will be no more." John Philip goes on to say, "Much of what is happening within the four walls of our household - liturgically, theologically, spiritually - is irrelevant to the great journey of the earth today and of humanity's most pressing struggles. Nevertheless, we are being asked not to flee." After all, the women who tended to the dying Jesus were also the first witnesses and proclaimers of the resurrection.

In the insightful and easy-to-read chapters that follow, John Philip identifies eight harbingers of rebirth or resurrection that he sees in our world and in our daily lives today. He invites us not only to see what is happening deep at the heart of reality, but to join in. The opportunity is to live into the new life that is stirring to birth among us, even while we are reverently tending that which is dying. What is coming to birth is new, but there is continuity with the old.

Each of the eight chapters in this book provides excellent material for deep personal reflection and group discussion. The invitation is to reconnect with Sacred Presence and Divine promptings that are stirring in the world around us, in our daily lives and interactions, and deep within the heart of all creation. We just need eyes to see and ears to hear, and the effect of the book is to sharpen our senses. The effect of these chapters is also to draw us into new ways of life and habits of being that align us with the rebirthing of God that is undeniably happening among us. In that sense, this book is not only spiritually sensitive; it is immensely practical, as well.

Political divisions, terrorism, anxiety and sleepless nights, income inequality, climate change, and arguments about children crossing national's not hard to see the problems. And as the author points out in the introduction, much of what is happening within the walls of our churches today is irrelevant to what is going on around us. But The Rebirthing of God is an invitation to see and live in the solution.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I heartily recommend It! 21 Aug 2014
By nancy lovely - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Years ago the Spirit directed my attention to "Listening to the Heartbeat of God" by John Philip Newell. It was a book that opened my heart and altered my worldview. Since then I have participated in retreats and workshops that Philip facilitated, one event in my home church in Kenilworth, IL Simultaneously, I have continued to read and be nourished by Philip's inspired writing. He speaks what my heart knows to be true but my mouth often struggles to articulate. "The Rebirthing of God" is a gracious, abundant offering of Philip's inner Light. I heartily recommend It!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is filled with wonderful examples of how to recapture the values and mindsets ... 4 July 2014
By Kathe Rhinesmith - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Philip Newell provides clarity on what what it will take to return to the roots of our Christian heritage. This book is filled with wonderful examples of how to recapture the values and mindsets that can change the world.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real road map to the future 15 Aug 2014
By Kindle Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book looks at the kinds of spirituality and kindness that will be necessary if Christianity is to survive as more than an outdated curiosity. It offers a path to the future, while retaining the heart of the gospel.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, forward thinking 13 Aug 2014
By Love Love - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is written with great thought and insight. Lovely prose as well as deeply spiritual thinking. A manual on how we can ALL live our lives to better incorporate the divine in each of us.
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