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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Move from Ego-centric living to Soul-centric living
Richard Rohr splits the spiritual journey of life into two, the ego-centric first half of life and the soul-centric second half of life. You do not need to be chronologically middle-aged to read this book, but he suggests that your thirties are as early as you will likely be ready for the move into the second half of life (although it can happen) and many people do not...
Published on 29 Aug 2011 by K. Z. Sobol

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Did not live up to expectations
I was recommended this book by a friend who thought it may be helpful to me on my own spiritual journey.

Although it was of interest I found it heavy going in places and I did not entirely agree with some of the explanations.An example of this appears on page 135 under the heading Depression and Sadness, where it reads "Many depressed people are people who...
Published 19 months ago by babs4u


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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Move from Ego-centric living to Soul-centric living, 29 Aug 2011
By 
K. Z. Sobol (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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Richard Rohr splits the spiritual journey of life into two, the ego-centric first half of life and the soul-centric second half of life. You do not need to be chronologically middle-aged to read this book, but he suggests that your thirties are as early as you will likely be ready for the move into the second half of life (although it can happen) and many people do not make the change until much later, if at all.

The book is very easy to read in terms of the tone and flow of the text, but despite its relatively short length, it took me quite some time as I really needed time to process the philosophical concepts and wisdom on offer.

This really is the most wonderful text for Christians and others seeking spiritual maturity. Having said that, I think that Christians will be best able to grasp some of his reflections, due to the frequent quotes of the Bible and references to the teachings of Jesus.

He sums up the reactions of readers very succinctly, "For some of you, my quoting Jesus is the only way you will trust me; for others, it gives you more reasons to mistrust me, but I have to take both risks. If I dared to present all of these ideas simply as my ideas, or because they match modern psychology or old mythology, I would be dishonest. Jesus for me always clinches the deal, and I sometimes wonder why I did not listen to him in the first place."

Having said that, there are quotes from all sorts of teachings and literature and he casts his net wide for inspiration. Examples range from Buddhism to AA, from Homer to Carl Jung. I find this refreshing in a Christian author, not afraid to use other sources, so secure is he in his understanding of the second half of life which, as he himself explains, should be all-encompassing rather than condemning and exclusive.

There is so much wisdom that it is hard to pick on one or two topics that he covers with such skill, but for me, following my first reading, it would be that he sheds new light on suffering and its purpose and how the problem can very much form part of the solution. I found this invaluable and will carry that message with me forever.

I am in my thirties and I was delighted to read this book to help me along the journey into the second half of life and to start really living!
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68 of 69 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gentle arguments to help your spiritual journey, 10 July 2011
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R T "RT of Keighley" (Keighley) - See all my reviews
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This has been a difficult review to write - because this is a book that can not be rushed. I often can finish a book at two sittings but this one got under the skin and has taken a while to read through to honestly comment on.

What we have is a series of paradoxes which Richard lets you ponder as he offers thoughts, some quite tangential and the need for personal change; to appreciate that true gain is spiritual not material. It is not written in a fervent evangelistic way whatsoever but in a quiet, almost unassuming amassing of idea after idea that created ripples of thought in my mind and made me think. The process could not be hurried.

It compares the two `halves' of life but note these are not to be seen as mathematical halves but life formation and then living it to the full. The example of Helen Keller mentioned on p 154 shows that the first `half' can be over fairly rapidly - if you let it.

There are quotes from myths, poets, psychiatrists and other thinkers as well as from the bible. There are no gimmicks, no hard sell. In fact that would be the very antithesis of Richard Rohr's approach which I found refreshingly understated. It is really all down to us, as individuals to make the changes, no simple solutions or magic formulae but a succession of gentle encouragements to take the risks. The Christian angle was subtle and draws on material from many contributors.

I would recommend it for those facing a crisis of confidence or even just at a point where they need to re-examine their priorities. Richard describes his journey as a Pilgrim's progress, though the shadows that re-enforce our personal self deceptions and the need to meet the problems of life in all its tragic senses: identity, life transitions, perfectionism, religion as against true belief, suffering and so on.

There is a useful index and brief notes together with a bibliography.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars life, fullness and depth!, 6 July 2011
By 
J. DOUGLAS "Johnny Douglas" (Nr London, England) - See all my reviews
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Father Richard Rohr's book, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, is a helpful volume that brings into focus a perspective that the second half of life is not fully about death but about living a more generative life. The thesis of Richard Rohr's latest book is that spiritual maturity comes only after we've lived with the rules and the categories and the knowledge that are necessary to the formation of a self - and then asked ourselves some version of "is that all there is?" Written in a conversational style, Rohr argues at the outset that we are a "first-half- of- life culture" largely concerned about surviving successfully." He then goes on to outline a perspective using both classical literature, some Freudian and Jungian Psychology, as well Biblical passages, in which he suggests that down can be a way up.

Thirteen chapters in length, Rohr begins by describing some of the characteristics of the first half of life and the downside of staying in a first half mentality. He cogently argues that poor work done in the first half affects the ability to live well in the second half. He speaks of, in chapter three, a key early chapter, of "discharging your loyal soldier" or one's ego as he argues that "The first battles solidify the ego and create a stalwart loyal solider; the second battles defeat the ego because God always wins." After addressing the issues with living a "first half life" he moves into a presentation of "necessary suffering" in life that includes "shadow work" or dealing with that part of our inner life that must be dealt with as part of life in the second half which Rohr calls "falling upward."

Now one of the questions I began to ask as I read toward the end of the book was, "What are some of the hallmarks of the second half of life?" While Rohr does not give a list of hallmarks, he makes this insightful statement, "Doers become thinkers, feelers become doers, thinkers become feelers, extroverts become introverts, visionaries become practical, and the practical long for vision."

This book is not a "step one, two, and three" kind of a book. It is a primer, a road map for discerning the outlines of the second half of life as journey toward a more spiritual, and really human, kind of life. Some readers will be frustrated with Rohr's lack of a more overt Christian discipleship in this book and feel that it moves toward a broad inclusive mindedness that leads to a relativistic point of view. This is broadly inclusive and wholly inspiring! Depth and life-giving!
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking book, highly recommended, 4 July 2011
By 
Alan Pavelin (Chislehurst, UK) - See all my reviews
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There was much in this book with which I identified. Richard Rohr is an American Catholic priest, a Franciscan, who founded the "Center for Action and Contemplation" in New Mexico. His basic thesis here is that we have two halves of life, not in the sense of chronological ageing but in the sense of spiritual maturity, and many people never reach the second half. In the first half, he says, we build a "container", or identity, when we are concerned with our position and reputation in the world, and when we need rules and regulations by which to live. In the second half, when hopefully we have learned through failure and maybe suffering, we find the contents which the container is meant to hold. Old people who have reached this stage are not just "elderly" but "elders", whom others can recognise as a fount of wisdom. In 167 pages, plus a long introduction, Rohr elaborates on this with plentiful scriptural and poetic references. He points out that the "first half of life" mentality finds its way into the political world, especially with the trend in much of the West to have young leaders in their forties.

He has a reputation, I understand, as being somewhat critical of the institutional Church. An example here, on page 139, is "The Catholic Church is now expending huge amounts of effort and time changing words in the liturgy back to the "original Latin" (which Jesus never spoke and was actually the language of his oppressors), while the world is facing unparalleled disasters at every level". To which I would add the imminent changes in the English translation of the Mass, imposed by the Vatican against the wishes of the English bishops.

Be that as it may, this is a very thought-provoking book which I would recommend, and not just to churchgoers.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Did not live up to expectations, 22 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Paperback)
I was recommended this book by a friend who thought it may be helpful to me on my own spiritual journey.

Although it was of interest I found it heavy going in places and I did not entirely agree with some of the explanations.An example of this appears on page 135 under the heading Depression and Sadness, where it reads "Many depressed people are people who have never taken any risks, never moved outside their comfort zone, never faced necessary suffering, and so their unconscious knows they have never lived." I think this is a very blanket statement and one I strongly disagree with from my own experience of working with depressed and anxious clients.

However, I find with these type of books that it can be helpful to read a second or third time which I have not been able to do as yet. I think the value depends largely on where the reader is on their own journey and what the reader may be looking for.
It is a thought provoking book and contains a mix of scriture and philosophical quotes. It will not put me off frome reading other books by this author.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Spiritual Wake-Up Call., 10 Aug 2011
By 
D E Barker - See all my reviews
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If you had said to me that I would favourably review a book by a Franciscan priest I would have laughed out loud. But this book is, as the American's say, something else. Beautifully written, it takes one on a spiritual journey through life, a life well-lived that is. Many people in Britain might shun this book as it is written from the Christian perspective. Rohr has the answer to this. He says: 'I quote Jesus beccause I still consider him to be the spiritual authority of the Western world, whether we follow him or not. He is always spot-on at the deeper levels...One does not even need to believe in his divinity to realize that Jesus is seeing at a much higher level than most of us'. If this isn't enough, I can verify that throughout the book Rohr's grasp of modern, scientific psychological teachings are also spot-on. Thus he explains that in the first half of life the well-parented child has mastered some 'limit situations' which has lead to a healthy understanding of its own boundaries. Spiritual growth in the second half of life means coming to terms with what Jung would call our 'shadow' side, the side of ourselves we don't want others to see. As we do this we learn that it is not necessary to be right but to be in 'right relationship' (p133). The more we admit our shadow selves, the more humble,forgiving, and loving we become. Those of us who do this can greet our latter years with an inner peace and acceptance; those of us who don't face continued and worsening anxiety and depression.

I can recommend this book to anyone who is facing the 'second half' of their lives and wondering if they need a 'wake-up
call'. I defy anyone to read this book without shedding a tear from time to time, such is the beauty of the writing. I know I'll keep it by my bedside for many years to come.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jesus & the True Self, 2 July 2011
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'Falling Upward' is one of those books that you need to dip in and out of after you have read it once. It describes the two halves of life. The first half is when we are achieving and establishing our own little kingdoms. The second half of life invites us onto another journey where we 'lose ourselves' and grow spiritually. Some people never reach the second half of life that Rohr is talking about. He is not talking about age but a way of being and acting.

Rohr suggests that once a human being has found the True Self then he/she begins to live in the bigger picture. This is what Jesus was saying when he talked about the Kingdom of God. We have to let go of our own smaller kingdoms of selfishness. By letting go, living in the now and accepting the flow of life whatever our circumstances we begin to discover the depth of life. This letting go is all very counterintuitive and by its very nature is a paradox. But that is what life is about. Much of spirituality is paradox.

Rohr talks about the 'stumbling stones' that we fall over and these are an opportunity for growth (i.e. the 'falling upwards' of the title). If you are on a 'classic' spiritual path Rohr suggests that someone will come into your life that will push you to the edge and you will 'lose' at something. Three of Christ's parables are about losing. This falling, says Rohr, is necessary in order to steer the individual towards 'home'. This has to happen so you give up control to the Real Guide in your life. Falling is necessary in order to move upwards. God turns us around - effects the 'metanoia'.

The chapter on 'The Shadowlands' is excellent in showing how we need to look at our own storyline and explore the 'shadow self' that keeps us in darkness. Rohr suggests that 'sin' and 'shadow' are not the same thing. Liberation is about transforming the shadow. Spiritual growth is about learning to see more clearly. Jesus said: 'The lamp of the body is the eye' (Luke 11:34). Apparently the closer one gets towards the light the more the shadow makes its presence known. Strong emotional reactions are a sign of the shadow self. Rohr uses a very apt expression -'shadowboxing'- to describe the activity of recognising and seeing the shadow self and all its games. An individual needs to confront his hidden/denied self in order to win freedom. Then he/she is the True Self without any need to protect the 'I' (ego-self - the true self in all its fullness - our full humanity. True saints are those who have shed the shadow and can see life as it is.

The following areas are explored with great insight: loneliness and solitude; depression and sadness; the tragic sense of life;hating family; home and homesickness; conditional and unconditional love.

Rohr ends with a beautiful poem by Thomas Merton that expresses the freedom that the soul journey can lead to if you choose to take the path and be prepared for the inevitable stumblings, failings and losses that turn you around. The poem encourages us to join the cosmic dance.

Worthwhile read whether you are Christian or not. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan with considerable insight into the human condition.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THOUGHT PROVOKING, 1 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life (Paperback)
I had the opportunity to read this book when I was in bed with a heavy head cold. I found it thought provoking and, even taking time to think over what was written as I read it through, I found I read it in a couple of days. It's a book I know I will return to again and again.

One of the best books I have read in terms of thinking about faith and spirituality. I now recommend it to others, particularly those in the same age group who may be pessimistic about what the future holds.

Mags
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Relevant, in depth book, 26 Aug 2011
By 
Antonia Chitty "Author of Food and Your Speci... (Sussex, UK) - See all my reviews
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If you're approaching the second half of life and still wondering 'what's it all about?' try Richard Rohr's book, Falling Upward. It takes a serious and in depth look at how we move through our life journey, what we learn and do in the first half of life and the second half. In modern times, it can be all about what you have, the job, the car creating your identity. This book will help you look inside and see what you are beyond that. The book is not just about the person: Rohr makes some good points about society which he perceives as at an 'adolescent' stage of development. The book is based on Christian spirituality by Rohr takes in a broad set of references so worth reading for non Christians with questions about getting older and developing wisdom too.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A book for all times, 1 Aug 2011
By 
Bess_Wheat - See all my reviews
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This was a suprising book in that I didn't expect it to be so far-reaching in its content. Richard Rohr offers the reader a guidebook of spirituality throughout life. He explains that it is necessary to experience suffering as some kind of fall in order to move towards the second half of our lives. This is a journey that many people won't make until old age or ever complete at all. In fact, it is a journey that never ends and we must continually evaluate our lives in relation to our shadow self.

Written from a somewhat Catholic perspective, Rohr provides many insightful interpretations of bible passages as well as ancient myths. These feel more like spiritual readings rather than overtly religious. This is a book that merits re-reading and more thought. I feel that the messages it provides will gain deeper and different meanings as time passes and I change. Rohr comments that as a society we are generally spiritually lazy. Yet, in this little book, he offers some sound advice for us to become more involved in our growth and development.
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Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life by Richard Rohr (Paperback - 16 Aug 2012)
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