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Habits of the Mind: Intellectual life as a Christian calling

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  335 Ratings  ·  33 Reviews
A 2001 Christianity Today Book of the Year! What is an intellectual? How can you learn to think well? What does it mean to love God with your mind? Can the intellectual life be a legitimate Christian calling? Is the intellectual life your calling? James Sire brings wit and wisdom to bear on these questions and their possible answers. And he offers an unusual "insider's vie ...more
Paperback, 263 pages
Published August 5th 2000 by IVP Books (first published July 5th 2000)
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Feb 14, 2010 Sean rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: college students, Christians, professors
Recommended to Sean by: Richard Dahlstrom
Shelves: christianity
James W. Sire's argument for intellectual Christians is easy to read and relevant. He answers the skeptics of being a Christian intellectual, and calls those whom God has blessed with a brilliant mind to rise up to their vocations and give glory to God with their intellectual endeavors. Sire's appraoch to the question of whether or not we can know God on an intellectual level is well-thought out.

I recommend this book to any Christians who are unsure of what to do with their college degree, or co
Jul 05, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it
It is possible to be an intellectual and a Christian. In fact, you can even enjoy it. Sire identifies what an intellectual is, how he goes about his work, and offers sage advice on how to grow in your thinking. I particularly enjoyed the chapter "Jesus the Reasoner"
Aug 01, 2012 Audrey rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-education
A book for those who are considering scholarship or other intellectual pursuits as a Christian. Excellent, though sometimes difficult reading. The first few chapters about John Newman were less interesting to me than most of the rest of the book. At one point, I found myself in tears thinking about how the things he was discussing might apply to me. Not that I think everyone would be moved to tears! But it was definitely life-changing for me.
Apr 16, 2011 Ralph rated it it was amazing
As others suggested, I did not find this quick read. After a couple of starts, I found it better to read a chapter at a time and hilight or underline as I went. I would place this book in the same category as Mortimer Adler's "How to Read a Book". Neither is easy, but both are good foundations for what comes next. In fact, I plan to use some of the techniques in Adler's book to better grasp this one and as I continue reading others by Sire and several listed in his bibliography.
Peter Krol
Nov 07, 2010 Peter Krol rated it liked it
I had high expectations for this book. But, dare I say it? Sire was a bit too...intellectual. I believe one may have a better chance of winning an audience to a thesis when the content and vocabulary are more plain and understandable.
Dec 05, 2016 Ci rated it really liked it
Sire has a mixture of scholar and conversational tone in this book. It is essentially a self-help styled book to examine and encourage the intellectual habit of mind in Christian life. The value of this book to this reader is the introduction to John Henry Newman's life and work.

(A quick read in the library.)
Jan 15, 2014 Matt rated it liked it
James Sire's Habits of the Mind was one of the books assigned while I was a student of the Summit Semester program in Pagosa Springs, CO. In the course of the program, we covered only the first two chapters, due to time constraints. The book has sat on my shelf ever since, until this semester.

Upon reading, I was amazed and excited to Sire quoting and referencing so many familiar names - George Marsden, Josef Pieper, Steven Garber, who I've read and appreciated since Semester, and many others who
Andres Vera
Jul 05, 2016 Andres Vera rated it it was amazing
It has been a while since I read a book that showed me things about myself that I didn’t know before. I’m not talking about learning new doctrines or spiritual realities about what it means to be a Christian, or a husband, or anything like that; I mean learning about how I think from someone else. In this book, Sire celebrates the mind, the intellect, and the delightful task of thinking. Furthermore, he defends the notion of a Christian intellect and cheers on the Christian mind to think and to ...more
Reasonable Ruben
Sep 28, 2014 Reasonable Ruben rated it really liked it
I just finished James W. Sire's "Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling." (yes, that was rather quick) I somehow knew that I was going to thoroughly enjoy this book. Its subject matter is so powerfully pertinent to where I'm at, that I found that I could defer to such annoyances as sleep and work alone in putting it down.

Sire argues (almost obviously) for intellectualism as a legitimate calling for certain Christians. He considers anti-intellectualism charitably, and reject
Dec 26, 2016 Daniel rated it liked it
While I was excited to get into this book after reading the first chapter, the next two, with their focus on Newman, were less than exciting and the chapters on Christian intellectual thought are a mixed bag (some good, some theologically weak). Overall a decent and engaging book, but it did not live up to my hopes.
Jul 09, 2013 Tim rated it liked it
Sire's book is not so much a defense of the intellectual life for Christians as a manual of sorts. It has some excellent points and Sire does a good job with quotations from important thinkers (when these are brief), but it is also disjointed, has too many long block quotes (especially from John Henry Newman), and lacks any sense of the necessity of intellectual community. The intellectual life seems a solitary affair tied to books and ideas, without a sense of community life.

I like Sire quit
Thomas Grosh IV
Oct 12, 2012 Thomas Grosh IV rated it it was amazing
According to "the Chronicle," "Habits of Mind: Lessons for the Long Term" is receiving attention. Excellent! Interested in cultivating intellectual virtues and disciplines that will strengthen you in pursuit of your calling, then be sure to read Jim Sire's Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life as a Christian Calling (InterVarsity Press, 2000).

Further thoughts: I should place an ESN blog series on Habits of the Mind in queue. Maybe I should include reflections regarding Sire's engaging e-publishe
Apr 23, 2014 James rated it liked it
Shelves: theology, philosophy
I believe Habits of the Mind is a great book for young Christian thinkers (high school or college age). But being a little bit older, I found this book to be more like a review. However, that's not to say that it's worthless for older Christian intellectuals.

Sire shares a lot of great theoretical and practical advice for how Christians should use their mind for God's glory. His discussions throughout the book include some analysis of John Henry Newman, what counts as an "intellectual", whether J
Jan 06, 2016 Stan rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book on the mental habits and disciplines necessary to pursue the life of an intellectual. Sire considers the question of being an intellectual in light of common misconceptions about what it means to be an intellectual and then give his own definition - which takes a good paragraph.

He then considers how this definition plays out if one is both a Christian and an intellectual. Very thoughtful here! Much is at stake if one wants to be both. But, it is possible to be a Christi
Frank Peters
Jul 02, 2011 Frank Peters rated it liked it
While trying to get myself immersed in the book, it seemed as if the author could not figure out how to begin. The seeming obsession with the life of Cardinal John Henry Newman, and the multiple Newman quotes almost made me put the book down, and certainly did not make me want to keep reading. The only thing this served was placing a large desire in my mind to examine the life of Newman further; he is certainly an interesting and unusual person. Thankfully, the book started to improve considerab ...more
May 23, 2015 Bob rated it liked it
In Habits of the Mind James W. Sire says he believes that all followers of Christ are called to use their minds in disciplined, responsible ways, to the best of their abilities, for the glory of God. That this is part of the fulfillment of Jesus' command to love God with heart, soul, mind & strength.

There is a long history of anti-intellectualism that has been & continues to be a part of Evangelical Christianity, & that’s a problem. The book starts out slow, real slow, in fact the be
strong finish - not sure if the beginning was weaker or if I just had trouble getting into a lot of biographical info on and thinking on academia of John Henry Newman, though it was interesting to find out the reason for the name of the Newman Center we had on the campus of my alma mater. Last 2 chapters were the strongest, I do believe. rating seesawing in my memory between 4, 4.5, and 5 stars.

side note: this edition has the best cover and really high quality, dense paper - it was a nice change
Karen Glass
Jan 13, 2016 Karen Glass rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read--a keeper. You've got to love a book that makes you think of David Hicks, Charlotte Mason, and Augustine, and reminds you why they are all on the same page. How thinking feels...Jesus is the smartest man who ever lived...and a crystal-clear reminder that thinking validates itself in *doing*. This is wonderful book that will justify the time you take to read it many times over.
Megan Taylor
Apr 20, 2013 Megan Taylor rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
Sire's book seemed more geared toward "professional" intellectuals or academics rather than the average Christian layman. His view of intellectuals seemed almost elitist at times. His primary audience seemed to be fellow intellectuals or perhaps college students. Regardless, his writing style was remarkably readable though the format was irritating with the heavy use of block quotes. A good read but not one that I would pass on.
Jun 09, 2010 Seth rated it liked it
Sire's defines what makes a Christian intellectual and emphasizes that God calls all believers, intellectual or not, to move away from "shabby thinking."
Christians, more than others, ought to follow up what they believe with what they do. What they do may radically alter their lives, for better or for worse.
Apr 12, 2015 Chuck rated it really liked it
Christian intellectuals. Sire paints a picture of what it means to genuinely think, ending with an apologetic for why being a Christian enables strong critical thinking. The book challenged me to be a better thinker and to realize that reflection has great merit. It also made me grateful for the great thinkers of the faith and what they have added to our community of knowledge.
May 13, 2009 Karen rated it it was ok
I couldn't finish this one. I just ended up skimming it for good quotes. Sire has some really great quotes interjected throughout the book. It's kind of hard to follow though. I also didn't like the way he tackled the subject matter - mainly by discussing his intellectual hero Newman in great detail. I don't think I'd ever recommend this one to someone.
Jacob Aitken
Jul 27, 2013 Jacob Aitken marked it as to-read
If you are into reclaiming the University for Christ, this is the book you want. I am not sure it is a good worldview manual, but I think Sire's, to the degree I understood what he was saying, is trying to get the young Christian to patiently think through hard issues.
Abigail Advincula
Dec 06, 2015 Abigail Advincula rated it really liked it
Great book. Could be somewhat repetitive at times, but I think it helped me change how I view intellectualism. It convinced me that it is very much possible to be both and intellectual and a Christian, which is great news!
Jun 25, 2009 Rachel rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009
A good introduction into the idea of being a Christian intellectual, but i think that there are other better books out there. He also presents his arguments through authors and intellectuals that he prefers. He ignores the rest. Not completely bad, but it really limits his scope.
Alissa Wilkinson
Jun 24, 2009 Alissa Wilkinson rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
There is some useful stuff in here, and it's very personable. I wouldn't call it earth-shattering, but it's a good read in the genre.
Jun 12, 2013 Glen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
this book is beautifully written and sparks a desire in my heart to continue the pursuit of God's truth in my mind. Great, great read.
Jan 19, 2015 Deax rated it it was amazing
Excellent book with so much about the renewing and exercising of our minds in a way that glorifies God - something we are not often called to consider.
Dec 30, 2012 KnKnism rated it it was ok
Shelves: christianity
outside of a few interesting passages on john henry newman's work, this book was quite redundant. nothing new under the sun here.
William Brown
William Brown rated it it was amazing
Dec 13, 2016
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James W. Sire is a Christian author, speaker, and former editor for InterVarsity Press.

Sire has been an officer in the Army, a college professor of English literature, philosophy and theology, the chief editor of InterVarsity Press, a lecturer at over two hundred universities around the world and the author of twenty books on literature, philosophy and the Christian faith. His book The Universe Ne
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“For is it not the common experience of all of us - you and I - that we do no incorporate the truth of these propositions in our lives? We say we know, but we do not do as we know. We say we believe, but we do not act like it.” 3 likes
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