Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life

Henri Nouwen (2007) The Selfless Way of Christ: Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books (originally serialised in Sojourners magazine 1981)

Henri Nouwen, in this simple little book points that the way to spiritual growth is not in doing great things but in letting go of great things. All our lives, we have all been upward mobile-better jobs, better houses, better education, better social contacts and bigger incomes. Nouwen suggest that the path to spiritual growth is the path used by Jesus- the path of downward mobility.

Nouwen writes that the path of upward mobility is filled with three temptations (as exemplified by the temptations of Jesus). These are the temptation to be relevant, be spectacular, and be powerful.
Downward mobility involves the self-emptying of the heart through the disciplines of the church, the word and the heart. Nouwen himself has walked the path, moving from the glamour and power of Harvard Divinity School to looking after a retarded man in L'Arche.

This is a book for reading, meditating and lectio divina.


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