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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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VINE VOICEon 10 July 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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VINE VOICEon 20 January 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is one of those books you keep by the bed, and this is beside mine.

I like the way Richard writes, I like the points he makes...the first bit about the hero's quest was a little more aimed at men than for women but it didn't put me off returning to the book to understand a little about 'growing up'.

Richard has a lovely writing style and rarely criticises...more encourages different thought. It helps I suppose that he lives in the life he is talking about...which is rich with religion and myth.

It is similar in approach to Marie de Hennezel's The Warmth of the Heart Prevents Your Body from Rusting: Ageing without growing old which, is that they both make the point that growing 'old' isn't such a dreadful thing.

There were parts of the book where I felt totally immersed...and when I'm feeling a bit off centre, Richard's sensible words bring me back round.

An enjoyable read.
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VINE VOICEon 1 August 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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on 1 December 2012
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.

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on 2 July 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I chose this book because it seemed right for the stage of life I am now in, but I am sure it would help very many people who are looking for deeper meaning in life. Obviously, as a committed Christian, I am in sympathy with Richard Rohr's background but he goes far beyond what we understand as 'Christian' thinking, quoting frequently from buddhism and other religions. He has a wonderful style which gets right the the heart of his subject, with no easy answers and pat explanations.

The 'second half of life' thinking he describes is not just for older people like me, it is a spiritual wisdom that can be achieved much earlier in life. People often wonder why faith is so strong in countries and cultures where major traumas are part of life and this is irritating dismissed by atheists as people needing 'comfort'. Richard Rohr contends that it is only through suffering that we get to the place where we can find a deeper relationship with God - the 'falling upward' of the title. Not that God deliberately causes that suffering, to teach us a lesson, but that encountering suffering in our lives can teach us much about the truth - if we let it.

Now I have got to the end of the book, I am going to start again and re-read it - it is that kind of book. Then I am going to lend it to my friends!
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VINE VOICEon 6 July 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
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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on 22 January 2013
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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on 6 August 2012
The main theme of this book was that we move between two stages in life. The first is characterised by establishing ourselves (security such as job, family, and moral values). The second is characterised by stripping away the false self required for the first half of life and uncovering God working within us and with our real selves. The first half required rigid boundaries, while the second half starts to dissolve some of those boundaries and allows more room for uncertainties. The first half stresses exclusivity (it's important to belong to the right group) while the second half is more inclusive (seeing beyond the parochial boundaries of our youth). A characteristic of the transition is the accumulation of lots of little (or even large) failures that expose the false self of the first half of life - hence `falling up', as failures, and even sin, remove our pretensions and we become increasingly more who we are really are under the `mask'. Rohr suggests we never dismiss the hard rules that were necessary in earlier life, but we build from that stand-point, understanding them well and deep enough to know how to break them wisely.

Another them was one of travelling - having to leave home (the securities of early life) in order to return home later understanding those securities in the context of a wider world view.

The style of prose was, for this Englishmen, a little too self-satisfied. What probably reads as simple confidence for American readers came across as a little too egocentric and self-satisfied for me, and too dismissive of others in the Catholic Church who don't follow Rohr's spirituality. At times the book felt like a defence of his views against his critics. Still, it was a thoughtful and thought-provoking book.
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