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Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirtuality
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Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirtuality

4.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  341 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
An overview of Celtic spirituality and its implications for us today.
Paperback, 112 pages
Published January 1st 1997 by Paulist Press
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Apr 19, 2009 John rated it really liked it
Very readable. Newell discusses the differences between the theologies of Pelagius and Augustine, and how the former influenced Celtic Christianity, which blended with the pre-existing Druid religion. Augstine's idea of sin being transmitted from one generation to the next through sex, [which brought about the need for things like the immaculate conception of Mary, something the author does not mention:], was later extended by Calvin to say that humankind was "totally depraved." This contrasted ...more
Nov 27, 2013 Joni rated it it was amazing
This book discussed an alternative way of looking at Christian worship, a way more in tune with nature and inclusive of others. It's a way that has more faith in the goodness inside each and every one of us. This way of thinking has a long history, and this book examines that in great depth. I would highly recommend this book to anyone searching for a little more in their faith journey.
Jan Rice
Mar 03, 2013 Jan Rice rated it liked it
Shelves: theology, politics
A book on Celtic spirituality. The author tells the story of how, across the centuries, Celtic ways were suppressed by official Catholicism and then, after the Reformation, by the official Protestant sect(s). I think that pattern fits a general one of ruthless suppression of variant groups in the service of uniformity and empire building -- for example, the "lost Christianities" (to use Bart Ehrman's term) that were termed heretical and destroyed, Judaism in medieval Europe, and native Americans ...more
Mar 19, 2016 Christen rated it really liked it
Shelves: spiritual
Reading this book was like being presented with a spiritual genealogy. It helped give context, through the lives of leaders within the Celtic spiritual tradition, to my religious, social, and political leanings. Newell's writing is polished and accessible and his treatment of the subject feels both personal and objective.
Jan 21, 2016 Stephen rated it it was amazing
I - enjoyed - this book. One might say I was enthused* by it.

The title represents the ... heart... of Celtic Spirituality, patterned after the way of St. John, who leaned on the breast of Jesus at the Last Supper and who heard the heartbeat of God.

I thought the author did a great job of presenting the history (and trials) of Celtic Christianity.
The first chapter is called "Listening for the Goodness : Pelagius". I know that years ago I would not have been receptive to this chapter (or book, li
Mar 13, 2016 Sheri-lee rated it really liked it
I really did like this book...enough that I plan to purchase it and send it to an Irish friend in BC. It makes me want to read the old prayers, and pray them.

It's not a humorous book, so I kind of spit laughed when I came across his comment after the prayer quoted from Isobel, Duchess of Argyll (and may it be known that I've always thought Isobel the best spelling of that name...good Scottish lass that I am):

"'There comes a youth wooing me,
O King of Kings, may he succeed!
Would he were stretched
Mar 14, 2014 Julie rated it it was amazing
This book was "suggested" by Amazon. I appreciated that it was short--many books are far too long. I also liked the tone, which was straight-forward and not as romanticized and flaky as a lot of books dealing with alternative religious traditions. That is likely because it was written by someone working within an organized mainstream church. The book deals with the history of Celtic Christianity, which emphasized a belief in the inherent goodness present in the world and man, allowed legitimate ...more
Melanie Barbarito
Sep 03, 2012 Melanie Barbarito rated it really liked it
Given to me by Sam McClain. The premise is the struggle between the Celtic Christian tradition which draws upon the Gospel of John and the Roman tradition or the Tradition of Peter which draws upon the Gospel of Matthew. The goodness of God's creation vs. the depravity of humanity (Augustine of Hippo). Love the beginning chapter about Pelagius.
Nina Chambers
Nov 22, 2014 Nina Chambers rated it it was amazing
One of the best overviews of the spirit & substance of Celtic Christianity, it's long history pre-dating St. Patrick by a couple centuries & how it differs from the Roman expression of Christianity, it's missionaries to Europe, who established monasteries from France to the Danube. A remarkable history, harking back to late 2nd c. Egypt's Desert Fathers & Mothers, some of whom, fleeing the last & greatest persecution under Diocletian (303 AD), went point-to-point by sea, around t ...more
Jul 17, 2010 Alison rated it liked it
This is a short book with a historical focus. It was given to me by my Trappist monk friend who I feel is close to a nature mystic; "If you listen to the river, you can hear the water saying the rosary, over and over. You can see God in a tree".
This book provides a brief historical account of the landing of Christianity on the British Isles and its impact on and oppression of Celtic spirituality. It highlights those who were resistant to the infiltration; those who fought to preserve traditions,
Bob Price
Nov 28, 2012 Bob Price rated it liked it
Celtic Christianity...or Celtic Spirituality....has played an important role in the development of the church over the last two thousand years. Now it has been 'rediscovered' by people within the church...some to escape traditional Christianity and some to enhance their spiritual walk.

Philip Newell's Listening to the Heartbeat of God gives a brief...and selective...overview of the history of Celtic Christianity.

Newell's approach is to look at various historic personalities and to describe the
Jun 24, 2014 Sara rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Realized why there were so many differences between what I had been hearing in church and what I felt from they way I grew up and what I felt in my heart. I will be recommending this book to everyone I know. Really enjoyed the history and the perspective!Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirtuality
Mar 17, 2008 Kit rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Jack, Sue
Am reading this for a class at church on Celtic Christian spirituality....Newell prefaces the book by noting that the question he asked himself in writing it was "How does a spirituality that is so creation-focused relate to life in the city and the way most of us live today?" That seems like a question whose answers I'll find interesting!....Have gotten into a little bit more now. According to Newell, Celtic spirituality is rooted in the teachings of St. John, while Roman spirituality is rooted ...more
Jan 03, 2016 Susan rated it liked it
Maybe it's just me, but I enjoyed the first several chapters a lot--how exciting to be able to have my knee-jerk response to the name "Pelagius" completely changed!--while the last several were a little drier. Though I've got a lot of German ancestors, I must admit after reading this that I'm a Celt through and through!
Rod White
Nov 29, 2012 Rod White rated it really liked it
This is a very nice little book that contrasts the "way of John" with the "way of Peter" by exploring the contest for the faith in the British Isles. The Roman Catholic way of Peter forced upon the islands by the two Augustines won. But the spirituality of the Celts keeps making itself known like grass growing in the cracks of an Irish church building. The two ways should be intertwined like the art on a Celtic high cross. One of my favorite images that Newell shared is of George MacLeod applaud ...more
May 06, 2010 Maria rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010, favorites
Newell's style is very easy to read and enjoyable. Newell takes care in contrasting the Augustinian view with Pelagian and others. The author also notes that the Roman empire endorsed Augustinian views over Pelagian for selfish and political reasons. I especially enjoyed his conclusion in the final chapter, but I will not spoil the book for others by describing it here!

The only drawback for me is that I would have liked more details, which was not possible in such a short book. However, it has
Dec 07, 2010 Peg rated it liked it
This was a historical theology text that outlined how the stream of Christianity rooted in the natural world and based in a view that all creation, including humanity, was beautiful and good got beaten nearly out of existence by the more dogmatic (and threatened) Roman and Calvinist Protestant powers moving to dominate throughout Europe. Fortunately, Celtic spirituality is having a bit of a come-back as more people reject literalist religion. Encouraging; but in fact, it took me a long time to p ...more
Aug 15, 2009 Kimberly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faith
Had the pleasure of meeting J. Philip Newell last fall to hear him speak, and then spend a morning walking a labyrinth with him and others at an Episcopal Church in Monkton, MD. I believe *this* is the book among all of his that I asked him to sign. It is slim volume, concisely written, a great introduction to the history of the uniqueness of Celtic Christianity - and the times when it flourished, the times when it was repressed by the Church of Rome, and the re-emergence of interest in it. High ...more
Bob Gravenor
Jan 30, 2016 Bob Gravenor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very readable, interesting, informative.
Bethany Wade
Aug 07, 2013 Bethany Wade rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Not only was it an educational look at the theologians of the Celtic Christian church, but it also provided inspiration for my Christian walk. The author's emphasis on the balance between a personal spiritual belief AND your involvement with a community of believers was eye-opening.

Listening for the Heartbeat of God taught me to look more closely at the world and people around me. Each is marked with the fingerprints of God. He is speaking every second...if only we will open
Chris Cariad
May 14, 2015 Chris Cariad rated it it was amazing
an amazing book that has opened my eyes to an old way of worshipping God.
Pablo  Rodriguez
Sep 09, 2010 Pablo Rodriguez rated it it was amazing
I gained a new and valuable perspective on the Christian faith from reading this book. This short book is a fascinating read and contains much information in its pages. If the Celtic understanding of Christianity had not been suppressed, the direction of world history might have taken a much kinder path. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about the Celtic understanding and to anyone who is willing to expand his/her view of God and what it means to be Christian ...more
Nov 03, 2009 Lynne rated it really liked it
Excellent introduction to Celtic Christianity. The rich tradition of this "branch" of Christianity was nearly consigned to oblivion after the Synod of Whitby in the year 644, at which the clergy discredited and discarded the earth and senses centered beliefs of Celtic Christians. If not for the work of Alexander Carmichael, a Scotsman who discovered some of the lost Celtic prayers and set about recording them in the late 19th century, this deeply meaningful faith may have been forgotten forever.
Sep 10, 2013 Jane rated it liked it
This book explores the conflict in the early Christian church that still influences Christianity today. The Celtic point of view is heavily reliant on seeing God in all living things and reflected in the writings of Pelagius. The kinder, gentler attitude of the gospel of John seems to come from this perspective.
The Roman point of view is spelled out by Augustine and his belief in original sin. The more rule-bound book of Matthew exemplifies this perspective.
Mar 14, 2009 Marion rated it really liked it
I am just completed this slim volume. I learned a lot about early church history and the loss of the Celtic heartfelt connection of faith that affirmed the goodness of creation and humanity to the more severe interpretations of Roman Christianity that focused on original sin, domination of the earth, and formal logic.

It all started when a man named Augustine of Hippo...

Doug Monroe
Aug 19, 2012 Doug Monroe rated it it was amazing
For those of us who've come to find the institutional Church an anachronism, this book is a refreshing reminder of all that Christianity was, is, and might be again. While it helps to have Celtic roots myself, I suppose, anyone with a deep love of nature and all of its wildness and beauty, should appreciate the Spirit revealed within Newell's historical narrative.
Nov 03, 2008 Jaci rated it really liked it
Fascinating overview of British Christianity and the after effects of the Synod of Whitby, 664AD, that is, the Romanization of the Christian church. Pelagius is kindly treated.
p.3: "How many of us were taught actually to look for God within creation and to recognize the world as the place of revelation and the whole of life as sacramental?"
Kem White
May 06, 2014 Kem White rated it it was amazing
A succinct introduction to Celtic spirituality. The book provides some theological connections between creation and God. The book also highlights interesting background on the history of Christianity in Britain. More Celtic prayers would have been useful. Recommended.
Kim Langley
May 01, 2014 Kim Langley rated it it was amazing
This book is such a fresh look at both a period in history, and a perspective in spirituality that has a powerful message for contemporary seekers. Lovingly written, clear, unpretentious, it spoke to my heart.
Justin Wiggins
Feb 09, 2015 Justin Wiggins rated it it was amazing
This book on Celtic Christianity has changed my life. I am looking forward to re-reading it soon, and writing an essay on its impact on my journey of faith.
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