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The Way of the Heart

May 10, 2007

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When Nouwen is hot, he is hot, and in this book he is hot. Nouwen copies from John of the Cross when he insists that the value of a contemplative life is character transformation.

His first section on solitude is right on. Too many of our church leaders are so action oriented they shy away from solitude. The resulting religion is as cold and pragmatic as any profit driven corporation. Your pastor needs to read this chapter.

Nouwen’s second section on silence picks up where the discussion on solitude ends, and goes a bit deeper. Here, he offers a call for measured speech. All speech must have purpose and come from a quiet center. This is a good section for any person who wishes to grow deeper in the Christian faith. However, those who are too quick to act or ADD to accept it may lay the book aside about this time.

The final section deals with hesychasm. Nouwen describes this as prayer of the heart (entire being) as opposed to usual prayer of the mind. Prayer of the mind usually asks things of God, or tries to understand God. These ways of praying are not bad, but limited. Nouwen opts for a style of prayer that offers constant communion with God.

Someone well versed in contemplative prayer may feel affirmed by this book and get a lot out of it.

Someone who wishes to break the yoke of busy, busy Christianity will find a seductive light of hope within the pages of these books.

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