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Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World

4.29  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,090 Ratings  ·  300 Reviews
Initially written for a Jewish friend, Life of the Beloved has become Henri Nouwen’s greatest legacy to Christians around the world. This sincere testimony of the power and invitation of Christ is indeed a great guide to a truly uplifting spiritual life in today’s world.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by The Crossroad Publishing Company (first published 1992)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 01, 2012 Jeremy rated it it was ok
Shelves: christian-life
While I love Nouwen, I was disappointed by this work. I found it to be a beautiful depiction of the Gospel message with one vital omission: Christ. He speaks of us as being (like the bread of the Eucharist) taken, blessed, broken, and given. It is a wonderful way of presenting the role we play in this world, and how God prepares us for this role. However, without the explanation of why we are broken and how we are blessed, the work rings hollow.

I find it interesting that in the epilogue Nouwen
Feb 13, 2009 Leslie rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Parts of this book were incredibly good, but I can't recommend it unreservedly.

I resonated with his explanation of our being loved by God, missing that point, and therefore trying to substitute affirmation from the world in place of God's love.

I disagreed with his premise that we can influence this world as spirits after we die. I think that's Catholic vs evangelical theology.

But at the end, it turned out that he missed the mark. The book was written to a friend, a secular Jewish man, who aske
Lori Galaske
Apr 20, 2011 Lori Galaske rated it it was amazing
I've only read one Nouwen book that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. After reading Life of the Beloved, I've still only read one Nouwen book that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed (and I can't remember the name of that one). This book was, however, different from most of his other books, but his humility and love for God and people still seeped through every page. I loved this book for its simplicity and down-to-earthness. No high and lofty theology here - just the basics. We're human: broken and imperf ...more
Nov 03, 2010 Lizzy rated it it was ok
Shelves: faith
Written by a priest to a Jewish friend to explain the spiritual in everyday terms and thoughts that a secular person would understand.

I don't believe he accomplished his goal and his friend attests to that. However I did pick up a few thoughts that are worthy.

~When we persist in looking at the shadow side, we will eventually end up in the dark.
~Every time we decide to be grateful it will be easier to see new things to be grateful for.
~You have to choose where it is that you want to live.
~The ble
Mar 13, 2009 Jenni rated it liked it
According to a friend I read this book with, it is very similar to Letters To A Young Poet, except with a Christ-centered perspective. It was meant to be written for a friend of Nouwen's (the author) who did not have the same faith as Nouwen and was entrenched in the secular world. He wanted to communicate that in a world so fast-paced and self-serving, when we know God's love we are able to claim our identity as "The Beloved". This allows us to not be as affected by the criticism of the world, ...more
Sep 19, 2015 Jeice rated it it was ok
This book became a horrible frustration for me to read. It started out well enough, but there were such gaps and glaring omissions and confusing logic that by the end I could barely read two pages in a row without having to put the book down. There are a few poignant points, which saves this book from getting one star, but overall this book doesn't say much that better books have said much better.

Henri Nouwen explains from the outset that this book is written to explain the spiritual life to se
Jun 19, 2012 Dale rated it it was amazing
Probably one of Henri's most important books. It is difficult for many people to understand themselves as "Beloved".
Winston Elliott III
Aug 20, 2014 Winston Elliott III rated it it was amazing
In this sublime work Fr. Nouwen offers: "The greatest gift my friendship can give to you is the gift of your Belovedness. I can give that gift only insofar as I have claimed it for myself. Isn't that what friendship is all about: giving to each other the gift of our Belovedness?"

This book is, at its essence, a love letter. A love letter from Nouwen to God, from God to each of us, and if we so choose, an offering of our love returned to our Creator who calls us Beloved.

Fr. Nouwen speaks to each o
Apr 23, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian, nouwen
Re-read before Easter 2014. Nouwen's writing is amazing!!

"Life is a God-given opportunity to become who we are, to affirm our own true spiritual nature, claim our truth, appropriat and intergrate the reality of our being, but most of all, to say "yes" to the One who calls us the Beloved."

Nouwen wrote this book in response to longtime friend, Fred Bratman, request for "a word of hope to people who no longer came to churches or synagogues."
Nouwen explains spiritual life as:
I. Being the Beloved
Dec 22, 2011 Reneesarah rated it really liked it
More than being about what other people tell us spiritual life is based on experience. Anyone who reads this book will bring to the reading of it their own experience. It could not be otherwise. The experience of the book is an interaction, a kind of alchemy, between the experience of the reader and the writing of the author. And with each reader, the book becomes something new.

Henri Nouwen wrote this book for a friend, and the friend, in his honesty, found that the book did not turn out to be w
Pat Treff
Apr 05, 2013 Pat Treff rated it really liked it
This is a sincere telling of the abundant love that God has for mankind and how we can find fulfillment and purpose by seeing ourselves as Chosen, Blessed, Broken, and Given. It speaks to those who have already found themselves hungry for spiritual food.

The secular world that Fred lives in allows him to function and even prosper without God and that is His design. Followers of Christ know the richness of having our spiritual life but who can see color if they are blind? For me, Henri describes
May 01, 2012 Claudia rated it really liked it
Thanks, Connor K, for waiting patiently for me to read and reflect on this book. On the surface, it's the story of a friendship. A younger Jewish man and an older Catholic priest. Their differences may define them, but they find bridges to each other and forge a strong relationship. Here Nouwen attempts to explain to his young friend why faith is important in the modern world, and how it can help people lead their very best lives.

He's organized his letter around the concept of being the Beloved
Feb 22, 2013 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: faith
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 21, 2015 Ainsley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2015
So many gems in this slender volume. It is deep, and simple, and filled with so much love. This is a book to be savored a few pages at a time, not gobbled up in one sitting.

Nouwen's spirit in writing, which I adored, is well expressed in the epilogue where he says, "I feel within myself a deep-rooted resistance to proving anything to anybody...I can only say, 'for me, God is the one who calls me the Beloved, and I have a desire to express to others how I try to become more fully who I already a
Gerald Thomson
Aug 07, 2012 Gerald Thomson rated it it was amazing
There are a few books a person reads in their lifetime that changes their life. This is one of them. In a clear, straightforward delivery, Nouwen provides his view on how to live life well. The principles are nothing new (know that you are beloved by God, give yourself to others, bless those you come in contact with), but Nouwen’s personal openness effected me like none of his other books that I have read. Written as a letter to a younger, secular Jew, the friendship shared, the struggles gone t ...more
Sep 11, 2015 Kjersti rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read in a while..
Sep 07, 2014 Clare rated it it was amazing
Exquisitely simple. Simply exquisite.
Feb 14, 2015 Joseph rated it really liked it
Life of the Beloved take a simple passage from scriptures (Matthew 17:5) and builds a series of reflections on the meaning of the "beloved" by approaching it from different angles and different levels to illuminate the reader on what it truly is to be loved by God or others; loving those are lovable, broken, or different; and finally how to act upon the love we are given and the love we choose to give. While done rarely, the writing at times borders on the esoteric.

The book's genesis came from a
Lacey Louwagie
This is a beautifully written, comforting book. In it, Henri Nouwen answers a challenge posed by a young, secular Jewish friend of his: to write something spiritual that "secularists" could relate to. He set out to explore how we can learn to "live life as the Beloved" (of God) by finding meaning in being beloved, blessed, broken, and taken. The chapter on "Brokenness" was the one that resonated most with me -- about how in allowing ourselves to live in our moments of emotional brokenness we ope ...more
Mar 27, 2012 Blake added it
One of the best, Christian, inspirational books I've ever read. Paralleled my life beautifully, and a man definitely moved by the Holy Spirit, Christ, and who has come to an understanding and love, I'd say 2% of this world have ever known.
It is too bad he is gone, I would have loved to have met him. For anyone trying to relate more to God and this world, I would say this one is a must read.
Connie Inglis
Oct 27, 2014 Connie Inglis rated it it was amazing
Very few books receive 5 stars from me, but this is one of them. Maybe partly because I opened this book without expectation and was subsequently blown away by the focus on being God's beloved. This is something God has been showing me over and over again in the last 5 years--about how much HE LOVES ME and then what my response should be to a world that feels so unloved. A MUST read!
Mar 22, 2013 Mike rated it it was amazing
An excellently written, inspiring work on the value of each human being.

This book presents the reader with a sense of his/her great importance as the "Beloved of God" and the purpose of our suffering. It further offers principles as to how to turn our suffering into joy and peace.

Well done!

I believe I'll read more works by this priest.
May 26, 2014 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian, read-2014
This was originally written by Henri Nouwen for a secular Jewish friend of his. He wanted not to 'convert' him, but to help him understand how much God loved him, to sense that he was a beloved child in a broken world.

The writing is powerful and moving, using as themes for individual chapters the four words: Taken, Blessed, Broken and Given. Nouwen examines what these concepts have meant to him over the years, and how he has - very slowly - come to accept the love of God no matter what his circ
Aug 21, 2014 Amanda rated it really liked it
This is the first Nouwen book I have read in it's entirety. I was at first taken aback by it's stripped down spiritual language and then captivated by its simply beautiful understanding of the underpinnings of the Gospel. "The unfathomable mystery of God is that God is a Lover who wants to be loved." It isn't something I haven't heard before, but Nouwen captures a sense of awe and profound humility with language at once bare and richly cloaked in Biblical metaphor. This spoke to my heart, though ...more
May 10, 2015 Susan rated it liked it
Henri Nouwen primary premise is that everyday life can be seen in the light of God's love. In being the beloved, Nouwen breaks it down into four areas: chosen; blessed; broken; and given. Some important ideas he shares; we must be in touch with our own goodness to discover the goodness of others; we aren't alone and much affirm each other; being broken opens us to a deeper way of sharing; and there is joy of being able to give or do for another person. Also, we have a spirit that will bring joy, ...more
Dec 16, 2014 Amory rated it really liked it
I feel I could pick up this book at any time and be reminded of the most simple and profound truths of identity. Nouwen's conversational prose with a friend makes the heart of the book easily identifiable and accessible.
Michelle Barker
May 05, 2016 Michelle Barker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faith, 2016-reads
Henri Nouwen wrote this book for a friend - to explore what spirituality and sacredness might mean to someone who lives firmly in a secular world. Perhaps the criticism at the end, that this book preaches to the converted, is warranted. I'm not sure what someone without any faith would make of it, if it would be meaningful. I thought it was a gem. When he writes about brokenness, and how our suffering can have meaning when seen in the light of blessedness, these are words that have the power to ...more
Aug 05, 2014 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, religion
On occasion I read or hear something that is exactly what I need to read or hear. Such was the case with Henri Nouwen's classic, Life of the Beloved. Twice in the past fifteen years I had begun this book only to give up before the end of the first chapter. Yet this third time I persevered and will be forever grateful that I did.

In this book, Nouwen writes directly to a friend about what it means to be, and how to be, the Beloved in a secular world. Although most of the messages we receive in our
Jul 23, 2016 Joy rated it it was amazing
Excellent, excellent book by a favorite Christian author. He is such an example of personal suffering benefiting the Body as he shares his thoughts in such a sensitive and vulnerable way. This book was a personal explanation of the Christian life to a friend.
"The greatest gift I have to offer is my own joy of living, my own inner peace, my own silence and solitude, my own sense of well-being."
"We ourselves are responsible for the way we die. We have to choose between clinging to life in such a w
Mar 18, 2014 Aprils rated it it was amazing
This is a book that I have turned to countless times for encouragement. It talks about how, as children of God, we are taken, blessed, broken, and given. This book resonates with me very deeply. I think of Nouwen as someone who sees the world the same way that I do. I found it interesting that Nouwen wrote this book for his friend, but his friend didn't find it useful. There are parts in this book that I see as naive and overly sentimental, but they still have a way of speaking to me, because th ...more
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Webster Goodreads: Being the Beloved Discussion Guide 1 1 Jul 13, 2015 05:56PM  
  • Devotional Classics: Selected Readings for Individuals and Groups
  • Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology (Spiritual Theology #1)
  • Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffin's Path to God
  • New Seeds of Contemplation
  • Surrender to Love: Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality
  • Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale
  • Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go
  • Mudhouse Sabbath
  • Renovation of the Heart
  • The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality
  • To Be Told: Know Your Story, Shape Your Future
  • Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith
  • From Brokenness to Community
  • A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, anabaptist/anglican, methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed-ye...
  • Prayer and Temperament: Different Prayer Forms for Different Personality Types
  • Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity
Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen (Nouen), (1932–1996) was a Dutch-born Catholic priest and writer who authored 40 books on the spiritual life.

Nouwen's books are widely read today by Protestants and Catholics alike. The Wounded Healer, In the Name of Jesus, Clowning in Rome, The Life of the Beloved, and The Way of the Heart are just a few of the more widely recognized titles. After nearly two decades of
More about Henri J.M. Nouwen...

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“Aren't you, like me, hoping that some person, thing, or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well-being you desire? Don't you often hope: 'May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country or relationship fulfill my deepest desire.' But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death.” 166 likes
“the real "work" of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me.

To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear the voice of blessing-- that demands real effort. ”
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