The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning
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The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning

4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  782 ratings  ·  86 reviews
I Am Not Perfect is a simplestatement of profound truth, the first step towardunderstanding the human condition, for to denyyour essential imperfection is to deny yourself andyour own humanity. The spirituality ofimperfection, steeped in the rich traditions of the Hebrewprophets and Greek thinkers, Buddhist sages andChristian disciples, is a message as timeless as it istim...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published December 23rd 2009 by Bantam (first published April 1st 1992)
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Karen Mcintyre
Easily read, this book introduces us to the concept that to grow in spiritual realm means to accept imperfection --- no to celebrate it! Using stories and quotes from some of the worlds greatest thinkers and mystics the authors share this concept encouraging each person to take steps to become their own.

The messaage is don't wait for someone to tell you who you are--begin this path and unfold the letter God wrote to you upon your birth!
Amy Hayden
It's difficult to describe the impact this book has had on my life, but for anyone struggling with developing a sense of spirituality that isn't dependent upon organized religion, this book is key.
Sep 11, 2011 Esther rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Esther by: Andy
Shelves: religious, self-help
This one was sent in a care package at just the right moment, when someone else had just told me my job was to learn how to fail, and to do it well. I almost laughed at the irony, picking this out of its box, but really, this book isn't telling me to learn how to fail. It's saying I already do fail, and to accept failure and success as part of life. Accept that the safer place on a see-saw is not at an extreme, trying to be perfect or beating oneself up for being a failure, it's sitting in the...more
Rod White
This is a well-written book, full of stories and wisdom. I appreciated it in spite of myself, since I am a Christian. I can agree with almost all the postmodern philosophy of AA and even with most of the "spirituality" presented here. But the alternative religion of AA and the claim to that the spirituality of imperfection is the overarching umbrella of spiritual reality that all religions are ultimately revealing is a bit much for me. In the name of not being grandiose, it is grandiose; and in...more
This is very much a long-term favorite of mine. I always reach for it when I'm sad, frightened, or stuck in any way. It centers on Alcoholics Anonymous and how Bill W. (AA's founder) discovered that the desire to be perfect was really the sticking spot for most alcoholics; they had to discover that perfection was impossible. The book is full of stories from three or four religious traditions, plus AA stories and Bill W's letters illustrating not only humankind's innate imperfection but our need...more
ehhhh...bla bla gives a lot of excuses to be lazy in your search for sirituality...pawns off a lot of the blame of our poor choices/decisions in life on the human condition...whatever, I read it at a time in my life when I was comfortable being lazy...not really recommended to the lay person, it's a good primer for better things to come I suppose.
Two words... life changing. Seven years ago I was on my knees after hitting rock bottom and as I clawed my way to get back on my feet again it was this book that kept me going. I still have my copy and its the one book that I go back and read over and over again. This book is very special to me.
Douglas Cosby
The title says it all, and this book just says it over and over again: that real spritituality requires an acceptance and embracing of our humanity and lack of perfection. Decent parables and stories to support this idea, but too much redundancy and too heavy on the AA message.
An absolutely brilliant anthology of stories from many traditions about man's obsession with perfection. I meant to read the stories one at a time and wound up reading the book in one sitting.
Oct 20, 2008 Suzanne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in spirituality
Recommended to Suzanne by: Um yes My friend Rita (Rita Mae)
'When the King visited the monasteries of the great Zen Master Lin Chi, he was astonished to learn that there were more than 10,000 monks living there with him.
Wanting to know the exact number of monks, the King asked, "How many disciples do you have?"
Lin Chi replied, "Four or five at the very most." '
(Story Tellers cites a street entertainer named ken Feit)

Also : 'A man walking through the forest saw a fox that had lost its legs and he wondered how it lived. Then he saw a tiger come up with...more
Andrew Griffith
A survey of spiritualism, ranging from the Abrahamic to the Eastern religions, and including modern variants such as the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous. The anchor that our imperfection is part of our essence of being human, and it is better to be open and accepting of our imperfection, rather than striving for what is not to be, is powerful. The book draws from a number of stories from the various religious traditions to underline the points, reflecting another fundamental truth, that...more
Nicole (Reading Books With Coffee)
Someone recommended this book to me about 4 years ago, and it’s taken me several years to get through it. I loved the stories and quotes scattered throughout the book. It was hard to get into, because the book is fairly dry, and read like a textbook at times.

A.A. and the 12 Steps/Traditions are mentioned throughout the book; at times, I felt like it was more like the spirituality of A.A., not the spirituality of imperfection. Kurtz, according to the author biography at the back of the book, has...more
Laura K
This book explores the spirituality of imperfection through the history and philosophy of A.A. I didn't know that when I picked up the book, but I'm glad I read it. I knew very little about A.A., other than knowing that it had worked for a number of people. The history of the organization was fascinating and I was surprised to find that the philosophy is much less "religious" and dogmatic than I assumed. The historical facts are intertwined with an analysis of 'spirituality vs. religion', which...more
The Spirituality of Imperfection assures the reader that acknowledging his/her imperfection is necessary for spiritual growth. Reassured, the reader learns that telling stories is an effective way to communicate hard-to-articulate themes such as wisdom, humility, wonder. Drawing on the AA experience of toleration and multiplicity of religious beliefs, the authors focus on process more than content. That process, however, is not a prescription. It is more a humble, open-minded, community-supporte...more
i thought this might be helpful to my own OCD stuff, though it seemed somewhat "self help" category for me, which I always find annoying. the stories are great examples, though, and are often borrowed from diverse settings
Wonderful trove of quotations and excerpts from among the best texts, from the words of the Desert Fathers, Jewish mystics, Alcoholics Anonymous, Buddhism, and many more. All stress the impossibility of being perfect in this life and how recognizing our defects can help us grow as human beings.
wow. where to begin? this book is very thought provoking. it is kind of text booky in parts, but if you can get through that there is a great deal to ponder up in he-yah. tons of examples from ancient history to current day. the basic premise is that to deny your imperfections is to deny your very human-ness. if you can come to terms with the fact that you are flawed by nature, you can begin to understand and forgive the imperfections of others. for someone who has struggled with the p-word most...more
I did not expect this book at all to use the example of Alcoholics Anonymous as the prime success story in enacting a spirituality of imperfection, but I guess that's mostly because I didn't know too much about AA before reading this book. It uses quotations and excerpts from tons of sources - the founders of AA, various world religions, philosophers, psychologists, etc - which showed a wide range of views on people who have grappled with the same hard truth that humans are flawed and that we wi...more
Howard Boswell
As an adult child of an alcoholic and member of AlAnon, I found this book very helpful. It provides the historical and philosophical foundations of the Twelve Steps. As a pastor and student of spirituality, it opened my eyes to a different way of looking at spiritual practices. The authors make the case that the goal of spiritual growth is not the removal of imperfection, as if that were even possible. Instead, it's reliance on one's Higher Power.
Such a surprising & inspiring book! I remember first reading the subtitle, "Storytelling & the search for meaning," having been drawn to the title, & thinking, "Pardon? excuse-me!? What's that got to do with it???" And I discovered that it had everything to do with it! I have always found that stories hit home better than anything else if you want to communicate something, pass it on. In my own walk through life in the Christian faith, it's just the same... stories, stories every tim...more
I won't rate this book because I haven't finished it yet. I started reading it months ago and occasionally pick it back up. It is basically a good compilation of deep thoughts and short stories, not to be rushed through. When I was in Junior High I came across an AAA 12 step book at my mom's house(I have no idea why she had it) and because I love to read and had nothing else to do, I read it. This book is written in the context of AAA, though not about alcoholism in specifics. But I find it very...more
Great book! Accept your imperfections!
Mar 10, 2007 lillie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: stella
this book goes from stories told by ancient sages and wise men/women, profits and philosiphers to the modern movement of the recovery culture. All the while, saying the same thing ... we all fear change, we all need to learn how to express ourselves productively, we all need to listen better, we are all imperfect and we all need to embrace each other rather than compete with each other. This book gave me a lot to think about, and made me want to share it with everyone who is on a journey of lear...more
Dennis Brightwell
As M. Scott Peck said, "Life is difficult." Things never go completely the way we wish they would. Things are just not like they are supposed to be. Or maybe they are. The thesis of this book is that we can find meaning, truth and even a sense of peace in things just the way they are, imperfection not withstanding. In fact, perhaps things are imperfect because that is where the the most amazing insights are to be found.
Colleen Wainwright
An absolutely wonderful book about finding relief from suffering through the very thing that creates the suffering. If I'd read it in hard-copy form rather than on Kindle, I'd probably have given it five stars. Non-fiction in general is harder to read electronically, and the text-story-text structure (with lengthy and interesting footnotes) makes this a tough go with no physical page to anchor you.
Carrie Schultz
Transformative is an understatement. As a terminal sufferer of perfectionism and feeling like a failure for not living up to my expectations, this book came along. Not only is it ok to not be perfect - it's ESSENTIAL to not be perfect. We can't have the spiritual experiences that give life meaning without a foundation of flaws and brokenness. A most welcome paradigm shift that stays with me today.
Best book on Spirituality I have ever read in my life. In short story form the messages Ernest shares with the reader are so simple that anyone who cannot "get it" is not human. I learned much from this book..Changed my perspective on so much. A must read for All on this planet. 5 Star,if I could give it a 6 Star I would as well. Brilliant!
Did not realize it was a sort of companion to the AA philosophy till I started reading it. Knowing little about AA I was intrigued. Interesting angles on Christianity and Judaism as sources of psychological well being. I was more familiar with the Eastern stories in this book than the Muslim-Judeo-Christian ones, but they all had something to say.
Deb Amend
This was a pretty good read, but I just felt like a lot of it was kind of obvious. Also the stories got a bit tiresome. "Storytelling" to me feel like it should be a bit more than what they deem it. At times it felt like "Chicken Soup for the Soul" but meatier. Maybe a "Shepherds Pie for the Soul"
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“One of the disconcerting and delightful teaching of the master was: "God is closer to sinners than to saints."
This is how he explained it: " God in heaven holds each person by a string. When you sin you cut the string. then God ties it up again, making a knot-and therby bringing you a little closer to him. Again and again your sins cut the string-and with each further knot God keeps drawing you closer and closer.”
“The question "Who am I?" really asks, "Where do I belong or fit?" We get the sense of that "direction" -- the sense of moving toward the place where we fit, or of shaping the place toward which we are moving so that it will fit us -- from hearing how others have handled or are attempting to handle similar (but never exactly the same) situations. We learn by listening to their stories, by hearing how they came (or failed) to belong or fit.” 4 likes
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