Claudia's Reviews > Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World

Life of the Beloved by Henri J.M. Nouwen
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May 01, 12

bookshelves: 2012-book-challenge-160-books, nonfiction
Read from April 27 to May 01, 2012

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 -- the chosen. But NOT the exclusive 'it's me and not you' chosen but the chosen that is inclusive and accepting.

He discusses the concepts of the taken, the blessed, the broken, the given, and how each of these concepts helps us define our mission in our lives.

Ultimately, the letter fails to do what Nouwen hopes: explain and convince his friend that faith is the answer. His secular friend is touched by Nouwen's attempts at communication, but not moved. But ironically, others are! Others have taken the text and used it for their own purposes and have felt rewarded. Nouwen is honest about the fact that while his book may not have had the desired effect on his friend, it has reached others, and has ultimately deepened his friendship. What a courageous thing to do.

Nouwen intrigues me. He was living and working in a facility that provided room and board and care to severely handicapped adults. His stories about these clients are so warm and heart-felt. It's easy to see his life was enriched by his work. I absolutely understand the gift of working with handicapped people...they give us so much more than we could ever give them.

Like his friend, this book did not change my life, but I found much to admire, to reflect upon, to return to.

Favorite quotes -- Speak from that place in your heart where you are most yourself
The greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity or power, but self-rejection
you have to keep unmasking the world for what it is: manipulative, controlling, power-hungry, and in the long run, destructive.
That is the greatest joy of being chosen: the discovery that others are chosen as well
our sufferings touch us in our uniqueness and our most intimate individuality
Each human being suffers in a way no other human being suffers.
Our humanity comes to hits fullest bloom in giving
We have to find the courage to embrace our won brokenness to make our most feared enemy into a friend and to claim it as an intimate companion
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Reading Progress

04/27/2012 page 86
54.0%

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Connor Knudsen I'm really glad you wrote this review, you did this book justice on every level! Thanks Swish!


Claudia Connor, it was an honor to read a book that you love. There's a connection between friends and books that can't be described! Thank YOU! :)


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