15 March 2014

Book Review: Sacred Rhythms

As one who does most of his reading in the reformed tradition, I tend to prefer books that are more cognitively driven. Indeed, some of the new reformed folks seem to discourage the more emotional or mystical writers.  However, Sacred rhythms: Arranging our loves for spiritual transformation (2006) by Ruth Haley Barton was recommended by a colleague of mine who I consider an important mentor, so I took a chance.

Barton is a spiritual director who helps people on their spiritual journeys. In this book, the author helps the reader to explore some of the spiritual rhythms that may help order our spiritual lives. Although there are many spiritual disciplines she could have explored, she focused on: solitude, scripture, prayer, honoring the body, self-examination, discernment, and sabbath.

Every time I read a book like this I get challenged to look at my own "spiritual rhythms." Last fall, for example, I read The Attentive Life by Leighton Ford, another book that challenges one to think through their spiritual journeys.  In Barton's case, I particularly appreciated her description of the Lectio Divina, which is a specific way of reading and approaching Scripture. I am drawn to this method, but I fight against my tendency to want to make sure I am covering enough ground when I read. Ken Boa's description of the Lectio has also been challenging for me.

The chapters this time through that I most resonated with, however, were 5) Honoring the Body, and 6) Self-examination. These are often less discussed in other books on the disciplines. In particular, her recognition of embodied spirituality is an underheard message in modern Christianity, where we often lean toward gnostic tendencies. 

As with any book that veers outside of your typical line of thinking, this one challenged me in ways too.  I found myself wondering exactly where she was going at times, but for the most part, when I stopped to "listen", she would get to a place where what she was making made sense.

I would recommend this book to those interested in learning about things to put into place that might help order it in a Godward fashion.

No comments: