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The Spirituality of Imperfection: Storytelling and the Search for Meaning

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,725 ratings  ·  166 reviews
I Am Not Perfect is a simple statement of profound truth, the first step toward understanding the human condition, for to deny your essential imperfection is to deny yourself and your own humanity. The spirituality of imperfection, steeped in the rich traditions of the Hebrew prophets and Greek thinkers, Buddhist sages and Christian disciples, is a message as timeless as i ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 1st 1993 by Bantam (first published April 1st 1992)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  2,725 ratings  ·  166 reviews

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Morgan Blackledge
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Humble Roots:
I have lived in California for about 26 years, but I grew up in Michigan.

When I was. Kid, my dad had a catch phrase that pretty much summarized Michigander values.

Any time we would be working on a project together, and I would try to find a creative new way of solving a problem, my dad would say "nothin fancy".

This highly functional but highly invalidating little gotcha pretty much ensured that we would have the fence posts dug in and set before my dad had to report to his afterno
Karen Mcintyre
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faith
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!
Douglas Cosby
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
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.
May 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jenny Byers
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: have, recovery
I've been reading this book very slowly, as part of my morning readings in which I have several books going at once and I read one on one day, the other on the next day and so on. I have loved it. The reason I even have this book is pretty deep too- A couple years ago a friend died. I helped clean out her apartment with another like-minded friend. She had many books about recovery. We sent some to different local places, and some we kept. This one spoke to me. I was so saddened by her passing, a ...more
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
Quite possibly the best book I’ve ever read...not sure if it beats out Richard Rohr’s “Breathing Under Water” but that’s the only book that even gives it a run for its money.

I normally plow through books like this, so awed by what I’m reading that I just can’t stop until I reach the end. Not so with this book. With this book I was so awed by what I was reading that I often had to take several days between chapters to let stuff sink in.

This was one of the most encouraging, inspiring, and challeng
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 01, 2014 rated it did not like it
It feels so repetitive... I feel like the author is saying, "Here's my idea... You know my idea that I mentioned, here it is again. I love my idea... Don't forget my idea! Here is a recap of my idea... You know my idea? Well, I've written it on this bat so I can hit you over the head with it." ...more
Apr 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unable-to-finish
Ugh. I couldn't read it. ...more
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book just freaking changed my life. Now five years sober, I have long since cleaned up my surface destruction and defects and am now struggling with deeper core issues that are becoming intolerable if I want to continue living sober. Specifically, I struggle with accepting my imperfections and separating myself from others by judging them or comparing myself to them as either better or worse. This book perfectly articulated how to overcome these misperceptions to me.

Although I recommend th
Moniqua Suits
Apr 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A go-to book.
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing! Savor each chapter!
Pamela Parson
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It was just what I needed at the time I read it.
The Spirituality of Imperfection is a wonderfully elucidating guide to applying spiritual principals in life. This beautiful book is a wise alternative to the deluge of metaphysical nincoompary that is as uninteresting as it is unhelpful to those of us who really are trying to find meaning in this often challenging world and still hope to become better people in the process.

Authors Kurtz and Ketcham draw on the ages old tradition of storytelling as it is handed down to us from the sages and sai
Dec 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
My main beef with this book is that it reads like a very fat pamphlet for AA. I love 12-step spirituality, but not knowing that it was going to dominate the book (I mean, it's not even mentioned in the title) made me constantly feel lied to. And there were times where, even if I had known there was going to be a lot about addiction and 12-step programs, I STILL would have felt like they were being overly boosterish about it. I mean, there are lots and lots of people for whom 12-step programs do ...more
Rod White
Jul 19, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Jan 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Deb Amend
Feb 07, 2011 rated it liked it
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" ...more
Jan 03, 2011 rated it liked it
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. ...more
John Cain
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a book for all people not just those who are in some recovery program or other. The strive to be perfect will never succeed but the acceptance of flaws can free a person to embrace life is the overall message of the book. Or at least what I took aways from it. This may be a flawed one sentence review but it is the best you are getting from me. Read the Book.
Thomas Beck
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great life changing book.
Highly recommitted.
Rhea Rosier
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Mind blowing!! Loved it!
Aug 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked much of the book and absolutely subscribe to the idea. But the constant AA juxtaposition wore me down after awhile.
Jean Pierre
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic that the word real good reading , spirituality as its best
Abby Rosmarin
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm always hesitant with self-help books, because, nine times out of ten, they are just rehashing the usual stuff over, and over, and over again.

Embracing imperfection is not a new concept, especially not in the self-help world. But the stories and the interweaving of AA's history with a spirituality that revolves around imperfection (as opposed to a religion that demands perfection) was a refreshing spin on the concept.

I very much enjoyed the stories -- and found a weird solace in realizing how
May 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Some good, some less good for this one.

The good: The authors' idea that through storytelling (and every story is based around some imperfection or there is no story), we heal ourselves and find meaning is a good one. I appreciated their use of stories from several different faith traditions and none at all. Lots of quotable tidbits. I'd recommend it potentially as a book study book for an AA or other 12-Step program book club.

The bad: Very redundant, and the authors might have said all that th
Jim Lavis
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
The author of this book is a Harvard professor, who shares his understanding of how the program of Alcoholic Anonymous relates to spirituality, or should I say, how we can embrace a new understanding of spirituality with all our imperfections.

He shares with us how Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholic Anonymous got connected with the Oxford group, which is a Christian religious group, that inspired a spiritual awakening for Bill Wilson. From there, Mr. Wilson along with a few friends modified s
Justin Thomas
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tolerance is gained by sharing in common weakness/imperfection and experiencing hope for collective growth instead of our pride, perfectionism and ambition being threatened by others strengths.
I can not control the moment I fall asleep tonight. I can control going to bed.
I can not control being loved by others. I can control doing loving actions.
Understanding the meaning of sin / defects of character and how the perfect divine image will always be pressed back and weighted down by t
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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.” 7 likes
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