Awakening the Quieter Virtues

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Big, colorful virtues like courage and decisiveness in crisis easily get our attention. But sometimes it's those everyday values that shape us much more profoundly.

Lost in our noisy, flashy, gaudy world are the quiet virtues that work behind the scenes--molding our character, guiding our actions, enriching our lives. Greg Spencer unfolds the beauty and nature of each, showing us how to take notice of discernment, innocence, generosity, ...

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Big, colorful virtues like courage and decisiveness in crisis easily get our attention. But sometimes it's those everyday values that shape us much more profoundly.

Lost in our noisy, flashy, gaudy world are the quiet virtues that work behind the scenes--molding our character, guiding our actions, enriching our lives. Greg Spencer unfolds the beauty and nature of each, showing us how to take notice of discernment, innocence, generosity, authenticity and more.

In this book you'll discover how far from being dull these quieter virtues actually are. Though often hidden, they play a formative role in who we become and what we do.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Virtue studies, and advocacy for the virtues, have deep roots in the Christian tradition. But in this volume, Spencer, a professor at Westmont College and author of A Heart for Truth, tries to take a fresh approach to the topic. His focus is on "offshoots" of the traditional virtues, including innocence, discernment, authenticity, modesty, generosity, contentment, and reverence.In a culture in which, argues the author, noisnd relativism, and technology threaten to overwhelm us, those "quieter virtues" may require a brave response. "We are to be fearless adventurers not fearful tightrope walkers," he writes. While he is solidly moored in the foundations of evangelical theology, Spencer takes a less didactic approach and is willing to engage questions around social justice and the effect of new media on Christian behavior. Those features may make this book appeal to a wider spectrum of readers. Discussion questions are helpful for either individual readers or for group study. (Aug.)
Marilyn Chandler McEntyre
"Readable, lively, rich with biblical wisdom and cultural awareness, Awakening the Quieter Virtues will awaken readers to a fresh reflection on how to reclaim and revitalize the ancient notion of 'virtue' in a personal and pertinent way amid the noise and haste of a media-saturated world. Greg Spencer speaks with humility, humor and clarity--exemplary virtues that model the fruits of quiet time with Scripture, with students and with the Spirit that informs this deeply practical, encouraging book."
Paul Tokunaga
"In the past, I've turned to the writings of Foster and Eugene Peterson for wisdom and practical help in developing these 'quieter virtues.' I'll be putting Awakening the Quieter Virtues on the shelf right next to them."
Ben Patterson
"Greg Spencer's weighty (and funny!) book shows how virtue, like still water, runs deep in ways our noisy culture--and noisy people--routinely miss. Awakening the Quieter Virtues perfectly embodies Chesterton's dictum that the loud things are usually 'small publicities,' no big deal, and that the quiet things are often 'gigantic secrets,' real treasures that when sought after will change your life. And he makes you laugh while he does it!"
Quentin J. Schultze
"This is a wonderful book--timely, engaging and sensible beyond measure. It inspires with hope while revealing our sad reliance on busyness as a substitute for being good and faithful persons. I recommend it highly."
Gayle D. Beebe
"Greg Spencer has written a brilliant book. Awakening the Quieter Virtues is an invitation to a deeper life with God. It leads us into the sanctuary of the soul where the noise and debris of everyday life are shut out and the love and power of God rush in. Dr. Spencer is not afraid to elevate everyday life as the proving ground of spiritual devotion. In fact, many of his illustrations arise directly from these experiences. That's what makes this book so alluring. But in drawing on our common experiences, he helps us find their deeper meaning and, in the process, discover the deeper beauty and meaning of our entire life. A must-read."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830837359
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 7/7/2010
  • Pages: 197
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregory H. Spencer (Ph.D., University of Oregon) is professor of communication studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, where he has taught since 1987. A frequent speaker at various churches and college campuses around the country, he is also the author of A Heart for Truth: Taking Your Faith to College, as well as two novels, The Welkening and Guardian of the Veil. He has been married to Janet for over thirty years, and they have three daughters in their twenties.
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Table of Contents

1 The Grinch Was Right
2 Discernment: Choosing Life or Cheering Death
The Discipline of Attentiveness
3 Innocence: Lost and Found
The Discipline of Advocacy
4 Authenticity: Our Genuine Longing
The Discipline of Real Presence
5 Modesty: It's Not a Modest Virtue
The Discipline of Timely Remembrance
6 Reverence: The Church Without Shoes
The Discipline of Astonishment
7 Contentment: Don't Care How; I Want It Now!
The Discipline of Ars Morendi
8 Generosity: Fingers, Fists and an Open Hand
The Discipline of Compassionate Imagination
9 Shouting Softly
Appendix: Definitions and Disciplines
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Customer Reviews

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  • Posted August 9, 2010


    Gregory Spencer's, "Awakening the Quieter Virtues," could not be a timelier book to battle our spiritually apathetic, lethargic and anemic lives as Christian communities and as individuals. In the midst of our hustle-and-bustle culture and the ubiquitous noise that deafens our spiritual senses, Gregory Spencer writes about the, "Quieter Virtues," to help liberate us and allow us to walk as truly free people of God.

    The quieter virtues for Spencer are: discernment, innocence, authenticity, modesty, reverence, contentment and generosity. Although the quieter virtues are actually quite loud and impactful they usually get drowned out in the loudness of our emotional baggage, cultural values, various salvific messages from the various forms of media clamoring for our attention and the daily sensory overload we experience as human beings living in our current postmodern culture.

    Spencer has a unique way of rupturing traditional thought about the virtues and then shapes and creates something that is creative, fresh and challenging. Even Spencer admits, "I have tried to enter into these ideas from the side door, using language and perspectives that are not traditional. Along the way, dozens (even hundreds) of possible definitions have been scratched out and refined and attempted once more." Spencer also gives challenging and life-changing discussion questions at the end of each chapter.

    For some odd reason many people, including myself, have consciously or unconsciously assumed that Christ-like character and spiritual vitality will automatically grow and take shape automatically as we live and experience our everyday life challenges and adventures. Reading this book reminds me that spiritual vitality and character development are muscles to be worked out. It is "I" who has to be intentional about the "Quieter Virtues," and other sacred disciplines, not as a means of salvation but as a means to experience my salvation more fully. Yes, I am saved by grace but there are things that I have to do in order to experience the fullness of what God has to offer us through the riches of Jesus Christ.

    For some reason I just expect God to do all things spiritual in me in the midst of my cheesy five-minute prayers, half-hearted weekly attendance at Sunday service and occasional scripture reading, meditation and memorization. Concerning spiritual disciplines, Spencer writes, "Spiritual disciplines prepare our minds and hearts for obedience, like all rehearsal. Musicians train so that when their key moment arrives, they will perform as they desire. Sometimes we think that because salvation is a gift, work of any kind should not mean we need not work to accentuate it, any more than a world-class sprinter would expect to win the Olympic 100 meters with out practice" (p.37-38).

    Gregory Spencer's, "Awakening the Quieter Virtues," is a powerful thought and heart provoking read that would need to be reread to mine all of the juicy nuggets in its pages. His use of stories and metaphors as well as his insightful wisdom can be creative catalysts to help us truly become free in Christ ultimately to enable us to love God and the world more fully.

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