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Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,988 Ratings  ·  515 Reviews
A fresh way of thinking about spirituality that grows throughout life In "Falling Upward," Fr. Richard Rohr seeks to help readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or "gone down" are the only ones who understand "up." Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing w ...more
Hardcover, 199 pages
Published March 22nd 2011 by Jossey-Bass (first published February 6th 2004)
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Bill  Kerwin
May 15, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it liked it

As part of my continuing exploration of spiritual books in preparation for a June retirement, I decided, on the recommendation of a trusted few, to read Richard Rohr's Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. I am glad I did.

Rohr has helped me realize that much of the impatience and frustration I have been feeling with certain trends in my profession (I am a teacher at a Catholic high school) may derive from the fact that my own path has moved beyond the institutional structure
Kasey Jueds
Jul 05, 2012 Kasey Jueds rated it it was amazing
I've been reading this book slowly--about a chapter every week, for the past several months--partly because I loved and wanted to savor it, partly because it's so rich that I couldn't take in too much at once. Fr. Rohr is a Franciscan priest with a particularly capacious sense of what it means to be Christian (which I'm not, but this feels like a book about Christianity that is really for everyone). He draws on Buddhism and Jungian thought as well as twelve step programs and the teachings of Jes ...more
May 20, 2012 Terry rated it it was amazing
Richard Rohr is a Catholic priest and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, NM. This book examines the arc of spiritual growth through our adult lives, using concepts from psychology and mythology to help illuminate the transitions that lead us on this spiritual journey. The sub-title, "A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life" invokes Carl Jung's idea of "two halves of life" -- the 1st where we internalize rules, discover who we are, enter a career, marriage, etc. ...more
Caroline Mathews
Oct 30, 2015 Caroline Mathews rated it liked it
I've finished reading "Falling Upward" by Fr. Rohr. Not only that but also, I am familiar with much of his research material. I’ve read Bourgeault’s "Centering Prayer;" Chodron’s "Start Where You Are;" rather much of the Jung, the Xavier, and Pearson’s "Six Archetypes We Live By." When you read a Kindle edition, you don’t usually find the bibliography until last. There isn’t a huge option for an early thumb-through.

The index of words, some explained and others neglected, is missing Taoism, but t
Adam Shields
May 03, 2016 Adam Shields rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Short second reading review: I still think that this is an overall helpful book. But I was more irritated by the platitudes this read. There are wisdom all over this book. The overall theme is a good and important one. But because you sound esoteric, does not mean you are wise. There are lots of instances where I just wish he would speak clearly without so many 'wise' quotes. Some of those quotes really are helpful.

the second full review is on my blog at

Glen Grunau
Apr 20, 2011 Glen Grunau rated it it was amazing
This book was uncanny in clarifying many of the often confusing inner movements of my life in the past 5+ years. Could it be that I have been encountering a "falling upward" from a "first-half-of-life" into a "second half of life"? Although there is a newly acquired peace and softness that comes with this "falling" Rohr reminds us that we do not attain this second-half-of life simply as a factor of our chronological age. In fact, he speaks of how deeply saddened he is whenever he finds old folks ...more
Pearlie Ng
Mar 28, 2012 Pearlie Ng rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
I was attracted to this book first by the title and then by the cover. And then I thought I have for myself a wonderful book when I read its introduction - it promises a lot of things I was looking for.

But alas it feel from the sky to the very depths of the underworld. I could not continue with it and stopped at Chapter 6 with 6 more chapters to go.

I was indeed looking forward to read about what it means to build a life in Christ. I did know from the start that Richard Rohr is a Catholic pries
Mary Frances
Dec 16, 2012 Mary Frances rated it it was ok
I was less than impressed with this book. I did find a few nuggets of wisdom, but as with much of Rohr's writings it seems as if he thinks his readers need simplistic explanations, and as always it's very self referential. Rohr's good thoughts are too often marred in his writings by a sense that he is not sharing a journey but lecturing to poor souls who aren't able to get his profound wisdom. And since a great deal of what he says is not profound, it get annoying. The worst section was when he ...more
May 28, 2012 Pauline rated it it was amazing
"Be Not Afraid" to Fall Upward
I have given this book as a gift to somewhere between 40 and 50 people, which tells you how much I like it. It is one of the finest books I have read on the spiritual journey. I am considering using it in a spirituality and work class that I teach, even though the students are not at mid-life. I think the book addresses important concepts relevant to people of all ages, and all faiths.

I have read many of Richard Rohr's books, and this is amongst my favorites. While
Kevin Fuller
Sep 26, 2011 Kevin Fuller rated it it was amazing
Mr. Rohr does us all a service with this gem by applying Jungian thought and Joseph Campbell mythology to spirituality. By doing so, he has tapped into a deeper strata of the religious life and requested we all take the Hero's Quest with him.

Beginning with the plight of Odysseus, (love the homeric reference material) Rohr highlights that the quest will be fraught with danger and temptation and will always be an invitation to go even further than what the initial task requires. Home is where the
Tee Minn
Jul 21, 2013 Tee Minn rated it it was amazing
I didn't actually read this book, I listened to it on CDs as told by the author with my husband. Maybe the best day of the vacation was listening to six hours of tapes on my journey home ripe with the quest to explore more in-depth spiritually. We had conversations that were new to us. Finally able to ask the right questions and free enough to risk responding openly as we see it now, knowing we are incomplete, but seeking wholeness. I love Richard's incorporation of quotes from spiritual leaders ...more
Mar 05, 2013 MGMaudlin rated it really liked it
I love Richard Rohr and feel he is one of the wisest and spiritually alive people I know. But I don't think he is a very good writer. He is abstract, goes off on tangents, and often requires multiple readings to connect his ideas and grasp his point. He even sounds a little smug at times in his wisdom. Still, if I was as wise, I am sure I would be much worse. There is a lot to take in and digest here about what is needed for the second stage of life and Richard is a wonderful guide. It is worth ...more
Feb 01, 2016 Bob rated it liked it
Summary: Richard Rohr focuses on what he sees are the key developmental tasks for each "half" of life, using the image of the container for the first half, and contents for the second.

I'll be honest. This is not a book I can wholeheartedly recommend. While I found a number of useful insights, I thought the "spirituality" on which Rohr grounded these more reflective of a "blend" of Eastern and Western spirituality rather than the Catholic Christianity with which Father Rohr is most closely identi
Nov 04, 2015 Paul rated it liked it
Being well into my second half of life and having read several other books on human development and spirituality, I was interested in reading this one also because some good friends recommended it. The book is well worth reading and thinking about. Fr. Rohr has many good things to say. But I found it less helpful to me than other books like it.

Many of his most helpful and thoughtful sayings are mixed with what read like simplistic put-downs of people living according to what he describes as the
It has been a long time since I wrote in the margins of a book, or even underlined anything. I found myself pulling out a pen to highlight much of what Father Rohr had to say. I give away almost every book I read. But this one is a keeper. Rohr writes about the two halves of life, focusing on the second half--the half more neglected by society, but the wisdom of which is desperately needed. He explains what should, but often doesn't happen in that first half of life; the consequences of our perm ...more
Aug 30, 2012 Kevin rated it it was amazing
After reading Father Richard's e-mail meditations for several years, this is the first book of his I've read. This is an amazing book. It is both challenging and encouraging at the same time! It gives a glimpse into where we have been, and who we are to become as we move into the second half of our lives. It is helping me make sense out of the course my life has taken, and shed light into where my life is headed. It is encouraging to see that changes in life that seem crazy from the first half p ...more
Brenda Mengeling
Mar 19, 2012 Brenda Mengeling rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebook, 48, spirituality
I am 48, and for the past few years, I have wondered where the Church I grew up loving had gone. After reading this thought provoking book by Fr. Rohr, I realized that loud-mouthed members of the Church just haven't been growing up as I have been, sometimes because they can't and not because they won't. It reminded me that the nuns in middle school had warned me that I and my "discerning heart" would face great difficulties as I grew older, but that I was to persevere and stay true to my gift. F ...more
Robert D. Cornwall
Mar 25, 2011 Robert D. Cornwall rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
I found this book by Richard Rohr to be stimulating intellectually and spiritually. It pushes us to move beyond the boxes we create in the first half of life -- necessary boxes -- to living our faith in the world outside the boxes. It is a call to those of spiritual maturity to be mentors and guides to those who are newer to the journey. Rohr is a Franciscan with Emergent tendencies!
By far, this is the best book I've read on spirituality since The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. This book isn't for everyone, but for those who "get it," it will become a favorite. I've already purchased two more copies to give to a couple of like-minded friends.

For those familiar with Carl Jung's idea of individuation, this book will draw the reader into a further understanding and application of this theory. I am learning about myself, as I have moved into the second half of life, tha
Jun 05, 2011 Edward rated it really liked it
Rohr's message about the two halves of life ("young" and "old") is that essentially one has to fail or descend in some way before one can rise and ascend. On an obvious level, as one ages, one begins to lose strength, health, and finally life itself. Some people never recover from the experience and spend all of their time lamenting their decline and fall. I remember my mother, ordinarily a upbeat person, during her late 80's saying, "getting old is hell."
What can Rohr find about old age, the
David A.
Aug 20, 2012 David A. rated it really liked it
I have never not been preoccupied by aging and death. My friends have observed that about me and exploit it for comedic effect; my younger friends like to tell me what grade they or their parents were in when I passed through some key rite of passage; my older friends like to remind me that I haven't been a kid for a long time and that there is a fiber-rich diet in my future. They laugh when they see me stress out over such comments, but I'll get the last laugh, I think: the younger ones will ev ...more
Oct 06, 2011 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
[From interview with author]

What do you mean by the two halves of life?
The phrase “two halves of life” was first popularized by Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist. He says that there are two major tasks. In the first half [of life] you've got to find your identity, your significance; you create your ego boundaries, your ego structure, what I call “the creating of the container.” But that's just to get you started. In the second half of life, once you've created your ego structure, yo
Cindy Rollins
Jun 04, 2014 Cindy Rollins rated it really liked it
This book was incredibly helpful as I come face to face with some of the mistakes of the passions of the first half of my life. It brought me much comfort.

Caveat: After chapter 7 it was much more wishy-washy theologically than I am comfortable with. But that aside, I found the book encouraging.
Thomas Holbrook
Feb 26, 2015 Thomas Holbrook rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, theology
Richard Rohr, writer, activist, lecturer, Franciscan Priest, has lived long and reflected deeply upon that living. In this small, but very weighty tome, he distills his conclusions about life being lived fully, deeply, in full awareness and completeness. His words are dense, accurate and speak directly to the heart.
This is not a book that can be, nor needs to be, read quickly. Each page, often each paragraph, holds ideas which explode into the mind and attach to the Spirit of the reader.

“We d
This is my second foray into the work of Franciscan Richard Rohr, and it was not disappointing. He writes of the first half of life, when you discover who you are, or build the container. Then there is the second half of life, when you fill the container and, through contemplation, find God enlarging the container. Yet there is no guarantee of entering the second half of life, some people never do and remain stuck in the first half. Most people are not able to till their late 30s or 40s. I am ju ...more
Apr 10, 2016 Obadiah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Four stars doesn't seem honest. This book has been echoing in my brain for a week. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it or reading it. I've dreamt about it. When my mind is at rest, it wrestles with the ideas that are presented. This may be more a reflection of my current state than the quality of the material as not everyone will be as drawn in as I was but, in this case, "the pupil was ready and the master appeared".

Short story: I'm wrestling with the idea of maturity. It seems to no
Jonathan Hiskes
Feb 10, 2015 Jonathan Hiskes rated it liked it
Rohr tries to sketch a Christian vision of enlightenment, which tends to happen in the second half of life, if at all. At the same time, he acknowledges that this transformation can't be understood until it happens to you. Which raises the question of why to write a book about it.
Jul 30, 2014 Michael rated it it was ok
I was disappointed in this book. First, it is poorly written. Every page contains a half dozen exclamation points. (I felt like I was reading someone's Facebook posts.) Secondly, it is disrespectful to serious followers of any faith. Rohr attempts to integrate all faiths and traditions into a unified philosophy of life. In his desire to use all faiths, he honors none. His philosophy of life is very good, but his casual way of picking quotes and scripture references is like a child who only wants ...more
May 09, 2015 Pam rated it it was amazing
I read this book on the basis of many recommendations. Begrudgingly I also realized that I am in the second half of life.
This is fantastic. It spoke straight to my heart. Richard Rohr gracefully embraces both parts of our lives. Both are needed to grow and fully become the people God made us to be. Not all growing and deepening is easy but God is with us and helps us claim our entire life experience.
Rohr says, "Basically, the first half of life is writing the text, and the second half is writing
Peter Galamaga
May 21, 2016 Peter Galamaga rated it it was amazing
This is one of the very few books I have read where my immediate impulse upon finishing it is to go back and read it again.

If you are approaching mid-life, are already there, or are well into your second half, this book will speak to you very powerfully. The best way I can can put it is that "things will make more sense."

The book is written by a Franciscan priest and it was a powerful shot in the arm for a Catholic who often struggles with his faith - perhaps more so the people who claim to repr
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Fr. Richard Rohr is a globally recognized ecumenical teacher bearing witness to the universal awakening within Christian mysticism and the Perennial Tradition. He is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Fr. Richard's teaching is grounded in the Franciscan alternative orthodoxy—practices of contemplat ...more
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“every time God forgives us, God is saying that God's own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us.” 99 likes
“Before the truth sets you free, it tends to make you miserable.” 60 likes
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