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The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  346 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Where might God be calling me to be rooted, to stay put?

A work of startling authenticity, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's new book speaks to each of us who seek an authentic path of Christian transformation. He shows you how you can:

* cultivate stability by rooting yourself more deliberately in the place where you live.
* Truly engage with the people you are with
* Slow down
Kindle Edition, 164 pages
Published (first published 2010)
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Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd like to do a longer review at some point, but wanted to take a second to recommend this book highly to anyone interested. I first heard Wilson-Hartgrove speak at a conference here in London with Shane Claiborne. His ideas about stability and place remind me (and are derived from) those of Wendell Berry. I found them very compelling and, to the extent that I've experienced staying in one place for the last few years, they resonated strongly. Staying in one place, he argues, is like a spiritua ...more
C. Christopher
Dec 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

In a nutshell:
Stability is essential to our faithfulness as we share life together in our church communities, and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s The Wisdom of Stability is the finest reflection on stability in the contemporary world. Through stability, we learn to mature together in a place toward the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4), becoming, by the grace of God, a vibrant contrast to the madness of our hypermobile culture. In The Wisdom of Stability, Jonathan W
Robert Irish
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent reflection on the role of "stability" in Christian growth. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove lives in an intentional community called Rutba House in Walltown, North Carolina. In this book, he shares the learning about what happens when a group takes seriously Benedict's Rule requiring "stability" or staying where you are planted.
He develops the idea that staying put and staying engaged is a discipline that requires attention and effort. "The stability God invites us into is a practi
Dave Courtney
Nov 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a world where change is more and more constant, the idea of stability (in life, work, relationships, finances, social responsibilities) feels like a foreign concept. There is irony in the idea that we live in an age that demands multi-tasking and where multiple things demand our attention at any given time, and yet boredom and discontent appears to be growing. It is here Wilson-Hartgrove argues that stability is more than simply a state of mind or a feeling. It is a gift and a virtue. Perhaps ...more
Feb 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mixing personal stories of his life in the Durham neighborhood of Walltown, with Scripture, the desert fathers and mothers, and the wisdom of the monastic tradition, Wilson-Hartgrove gently and winsomely reminds us of the necessity of community and its impossibility if we capitulate to the restless movement and consumerism of our modern culture. Instead community must be sought in God's house (his economy) and received as the gift that it truly is. "Without the gift of God's presence in the pla ...more
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book over several months and finished it during one of the most transitional periods of my life...newly married, moved to a different country, an as yet an unknown language, loss of a job I loved not to mention family and friends, and having sold 80% of my belongings. In the midst of these circumstances, The Wisdom of Stability allowed me to feel as if the ground beneath me was a much stronger foundation than it felt like at times. I especially loved the last two chapters, "Midday De ...more
I've been meaning to read this book since it came out and just finally got around to it. With a nod toward the desert fathers and St. Benedict, Wilson-Hartgrove makes his case for stability in a mobile culture. If monasticism (old or new) seems too daunting of a commitment, you will still find plenty to consider in these pages. This is an accessible introduction to the idea, not a sustained theological reflection on it.

But that doesn't mean there isn't plenty to think about. Wilson-Hartgrove co
Lee Bertsch
Mar 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
A fine, thought provoking book. In the past I have focused a lot on the mobility aspect of the Christian life inherent in the words "follow me, and "go and make disciples", and "As the Father sent me, so I am sending you". Perhaps it is partly my stage in life, but I was quite ready to hear the author make the case for the wisdom of stability. The frequent analogies in scripture of our lives as well rooted trees provide an essential counter balance. His argument that our compulsion to move on to ...more
Jun 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book caught my attention because it seemed very counter to a lot of Christian books out there. He argues that the best and perhaps most important way we can grow in our faith is to develop roots in a community and place instead of bouncing around. Drawing on the wisdom of the desert monks and relevant Scripture passages, he makes a good case for finding a place to stay put and people to develop long term relationships with. I thought the chapter on Midday Demons was especially helpful and i ...more
Stephen Hicks
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read other works by Wilson-Hartgrove and enjoyed them greatly. This one was no exception. I thoroughly admired his explanation of stability as both a gift and a discipline. It is given to us and then we are to practice it with patience and discipline when it "fails to meet our expectations". The implications of stability that he lays forth are not sugar-coated or painted with a shade of romantic idealism. He often describes the struggles, failures, and pitfalls to this countercultural way ...more
Adam Shields
Jan 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short review: Time is not the friend of modern culture. We do not like to be bound by time, we do not like to allow time to show on our bodies and we do not want to learn the lessons that it seems only time will teach us. The Wisdom of Stability is a powerful argument to plant ourselves deeply in a place so that we can learn the lessons of time, stability and community. Without a commitment to stability much of our learning is limited by the desire for the next thing.

This is a book strongly inf
Nov 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up at the North American Christian Convention in July. The Englewood Review of Books recommended it as the best book from the first half of 2010. As a homebody, I was hoping for validation of my decision to be rooted in my community. The author lives in a much more urban neighborhood than me, but I liked his comments about how living and working and committing to a community is hard. "Choosing a spirituality that works for me is so much easier than dealing with the people who ...more
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual
Convicting. Challenging. Revealing. I Had never even considered stability as a foundation to developing the ways of Jesus, or the Christian way. Mostly because Jesus was constantly on the move during his lifetime. I now see that despite Jesus' mobility, the way he taught can be applied to a life of stability as well. Consequently, my understanding of how stability is a tool to push my faith and person to encounter God in all things reflects the challenges and revelations of the seemingly monoton ...more
We live in a culture that is on the move. The American dream is all about bigger and better. Many Christians have bought into this, seeking to go go go and do do do. We think bigger is automatically better and moving somewhere else will improve our lives and ministry. This book challenges that mindset. Listening to the wisdom of the fathers and mothers of the church, people who often lived for years in the desert (people with names like Teresa of Avila, Benedict of Nursia, John Cassian), Wilson- ...more
Sep 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was exactly what I needed at this stage in my life. I have known and followed the bite of the "travel bug" and after a few years in a row of moving from state to state and crossing cultures from the Midwest to the East Coast, I have found myself desperately seeking the feeling of "home." This book has offered me a brilliant answer to finding my home. It's not, as much, to be found in a place as it is to be found in an attitude and a love for whatever God has brought before you. I would ...more
Richard Ross
This book speaks of spiritual wisdom that runs counter to most of the current discussion, JWH challenges his readers to take on the task of gaining spiritual roots and becoming a people strengthened by our commitment to the place we are and the people that tie us to that place; When our instinct is to look for the next best thing in the next place. This book is short, but it nicely presents its ideas clearly and in a conversational style. If you admire the desert fathers and want to gain from so ...more
Pat Loughery
Mar 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
> 5 stars. This is Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's best book yet.

JWH writes reflecting on the Benedictine understanding of stability as a spiritual growth practice. The book is beautiful, simple, homespun and wise.

My doctoral dissertation is about learning from monastic wisdom for socially networked and mobile culture. I appreciate JWH's take on this topic, and even though I've submitted my 2nd draft already, I'm going to be using a lot of his work in the dissertation and in courses I'll teach on
Dorothy Littell
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Challenging, helpful, and encouraging read. What does it look like to stay put in a culture that values mobility and keeping all the options open? It's hard. And it's worth it.

Some favorite quotes:
"True stability can never be a product for individuals to consume. Rather, it is an invitation to shared life with particular people in a specific place."
"Life with the God we know in Jesus Christ is lived in community with other people."
"A great deal of money is spent each day to create desires in eac
Rob Skirving
Jun 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this book at exactly the right time in my life ... as part of sabbatical time during which I'm exploring again the wisdom of Benedictine spirituality for contemporary Christian life. The author's treatment of acedia, a spiritual malaise resembling depression, was spot on and gave me great language for understanding something I have experienced in my own life. Looking forward to reading this again, and have now added his "The Rule of St. Benedict" to my reading list.
Feb 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
An absolutely marvelous book. (Thanks to the good people at Englewood Review of Books for their complementary eBook copy!) Wilson-Hartgrove challenges us to reconsider the validity and importance of "staying put and paying attention" in contrast to the mobile society we have become that is constantly around us with our devices. Meaningful to me was the chapter devoted to the issues of ambition and boredom and how they challenge stability from two different directions.
Seth Thomas
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After attending the Inhabit Conference at The Seattle School this past Spring, these ideas of stability and rootedness sound very familiar. A great read and inspiring challenge to set down deep roots where we are, settling in, loving our neighbors, and living in the rhythms of faith that already surround us. Instead of seeking out something better or striving for what is beyond my reach, can I become content to know I am called where I am?
Mar 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religious, self-help
This book argues against flitting around the world in order to save it -- a message I both need to hear, but then immediately feel guilty while contemplating it. Hartgrove makes a good point that we do our best work when we are well-invested in a place, when we stick around long enough to spread our roots deep into the soil. His stories and examples strongly support the concept of committing to a place and a people long-term.
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although I agree with the author's premise and think it's important for hyper-mobile Americans to consider the importance of putting down roots and living in community with one another, this book at times proved vague and shallow, as if the author felt the need to add filler to flesh out only a few key ideas. It could easily have been condensed to half its length and still been effective -- perhaps even more so.
Jamie Howison
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid little book by the new monastic Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. I read it over the course of two afternoons in the context of a retreat at St John's Abbey, Collegeville. What better place to read about that uniquely Benedictine vow of stability than in this wonderful Benedictine context? The book stands as an invitation to embrace the place where we are - to "grow where you're planted," to risk sounding cliched - but in a spiritually, theologically and personally "thick" way.
Darrell Grizzle
Feb 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book about the spiritual practice of stability, blending insights from the New Monastic movement with the ancient wisdom of Christianity's 1700 years of monastic tradition. A calm and beautiful book, it feels like it could have been written by Annie Dillard or Barbara Brown Taylor. Highly recommended for those of us trying to live out God's calling on our lives in the midst of a mobile and unstable world.
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a self-described "nomad," committed to moving, change, and new experiences, this book was a challenge to say the least.

It's poetic at times, grounded in monastic wisdom, and very much accomplishes its stated purpose of making a case for stability.

I enjoyed it especially because it became a tool to clarify my own sense of calling as a "nomad." I found it a great companion to examine how even someone committed to mobility can discover and apply stability.

Nov 16, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Thanks to my brother for lending me this book.)

There were several interesting insights in this for me, particularly related to the wisdom of staying somewhere after you've been in a place for a long time. I really struggled with the author's writing style and had trouble keeping focused through each chapter (hence 3 starts rather than 4).
Nov 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Heartgrove shared some deep and great wisdom into the practices of rooting and place. Living in a society that is always in the demand for the "new", it is refreshing to find meditative solace as Marcel Proust would say by the, "real voyage of discovery consisting not in new landscapes but in having new eyes."
Tim Budge
May 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Lots of good things to say, and passages of wisdom and profundity, but somehow, I found it a bit uneven. Perhaps it is one of those books that needs to be read as a paper book (rather than on a kindle). Or maybe the connections between the wisdom of the desert fathers and mothers and modern American community didn't always work. However, I would still recommend it!
Jeff Free
This is a wandering little book. The last couple of chapters had some real gems. One of my favorite: "Maybe none of us are safe to respond to God's call until we've stayed put long enough to face our demons." (p141)
Slowing down and immersing in our communities as a prerequisite to understanding, loving, and then lifting our neighbors. I love the concept.
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Chapter2 1 6 Dec 18, 2011 11:25AM  
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Share This Book

“We learn to dwell with God by learning the practices of hospitality, listening, forgiveness, and reconciliation—the daily tasks of life with other people. Stability in Christ is always stability in community” 6 likes
“To climb ever closer to God is not to move away from our troubled and troubling neighbors, but closer to them.” 6 likes
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