Sunday, August 09, 2009

Henri Nouwen on Spiritual Direction

This book was published in 2006 and was written by Michael J. Christensen and Rebbecca J. Laird. Christensen is the director of the Doctor of Ministry program in Drew University and Laird is a spiritual director and associate pastor for Spiritual Development at Central Presbyterian Church in Summit, New Jersey. Christensen took a course with Henri Nouwen at Yale Divinity School.

Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932-1996) is a well known spiritual writer. He never did consider himself a spiritual director though he did receive and gave spiritual direction. He considered himself more as a spiritual companion. Nouwen did not write much on spiritual direction and spiritual formation. The core of his spiritual writing were on the heart, Word and church and was more about his inner own conversations, even though it continues to offer spiritual guidance to many of his readers.

In this book, the authors, drawing from both published and unpublished writings of Henri Nouwen set him up as a spiritual director. The chapters are designed in such a way that the reader is being engaged with a one way spiritual direction with Henri Nouwen. The chapters deals with questions that generally asked in spiritual direction such as "who am I?" and "who is God to me?" The answers are drawn from Nouwen's writings. Sometimes reading a passage may be jarring because the personal pronoun "I" is used. One expect to look up to see Nouwen sitting across the table!

The danger of such a book is that it will be inevitable that some of the authors' biasness and personal values be embedded in the choice and paraphrase of Nouwen's writings. Nevertheless it is a good book to read as it is the closest we can get to having Henri Nouwen as our spiritual director.


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