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Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

4.1 46
by Richard Rohr

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A fresh way of thinking about spirituality that grows throughout life

In Falling Upward, Fr. Richard Rohr seeks to help readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or "gone down" are the only ones who understand "up." Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about


A fresh way of thinking about spirituality that grows throughout life

In Falling Upward, Fr. Richard Rohr seeks to help readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or "gone down" are the only ones who understand "up." Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite.  What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as "falling upward."  In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain, as we have all seen with elders who have come to their fullness.  

  • Explains why the second half of life can and should be full of spiritual richness
  • Offers a new view of how spiritual growth happens?loss is gain
  • Richard. Rohr is a regular contributing writer for Sojourners and Tikkun magazines

This important book explores the counterintuitive message that we grow spiritually much more by doing wrong than by doing right.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Franciscan priest Rohr (The Naked Now) is a big-picture kind of thinker when it comes to characterizing the human journey. Life has two halves; life follows the pattern of a hero/heroine's journey; life is disorderly and inherently tragic. Elders and mystics are more inclined to such sweeping and subtle observations, and Rohr, born in 1943, fits in both categories. Rohr writes about spirituality in broad terms, but is deeply grounded in the writings and thinkers of his Catholic religious tradition. His discussion of familiar theological concerns—the necessity of suffering, the opportunities provided by mistakes—is fresh because imaginative and vigorous. His metaphors ("discharging your loyal soldier"), paradoxes (see the book's title), and arguments are not, however, easy to follow or even easy to summarize. They will frustrate some readers, but delight others who are attentive enough to follow the connections Rohr makes. This small, provocative book will make a particularly good gift for a thoughtful, spiritually open man. (May)
From the Publisher
"...provocative..." - Publishers Weekly

"...a trustworthy guide to the spiritual life." - BlogCritics.org

"Understanding the spiritual aspects of aging is as important as appreciating the systems and biological processes that age us. Richard Rohr has given us a perfect guide to what he calls the 'further journey,' a voyage into the mystery mystery and beauty of healthy spiritual maturity." - Mehmet Oz, M.D., host of the 'Dr. Oz Show'

"Falling Upward calls forth the promise within us and frees us to follow it into wider dimensions of our spiritual authenticity. This 'second half of life' need not wait till our middle years. It emerges whenever we are ready and able to expand beyond the structures and strictures of our chosen path. With Richard Rohr as a guide, this mystery can become as real and immediate as your hand on the doorknob." - Joanna Macy, author of World as Lover, World as Self

"In Falling Upward, Richard offers a simple but deeply helpful framework for seeing the whole spiritual life - one that will help both beginners on the path as they look ahead and long-term pilgrims as they look back over their journey so far." - Brian McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christianity and Naked Spirituality

"The value of this book lies in the way Richard Rohr shares his own aging process with us in ways that help us be less afraid. We begin to see that, as we grow older, we are being awakened to deep, simple, and mysterious things we simply could not see when we were younger." - Jim Finley, Merton scholar and author of The Contemplative Heart

"This is Richard Rohr at his vintage best: prophetic, pastoral, practical. A book I will gratefully share with my children and grandchildren." - Cynthia Bourgeault, Episcopal priest, retreat leader, and author

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Meet the Author

Fr. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province. He founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1986, where he presently serves as Founding Director. Fr. Rohr is the author of more than twenty books, an internationally known speaker, and a regular contributing writer for Sojourners and Tikkun magazines, and the CAC's quarterly journal, Radical Grace.

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Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A mature and refective study on the nature of one's true and authentic spiritual journey. The necessary steps one must take in order to be fully-realized in this life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great concept - and accurate, too, I believe. But the writing is marginal. Too often, Rohr uses one hundred words when thirty would do. And when you're looking for sharper clarity on particular ideas, he doesn't offer it. The book's obtuseness made sense to me when Rohr revealed in one of the final chapters that he wrote the book during a Lenten hermitage. That tells me he was highly sensitive to certain ideas, but he forgot to bring his thought process down to earth. Falling Upward is a good first draft of what could've been a really fine study.
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
Richard Rohr, writer, activist, lecturer, Franciscan Priest, has lived long and reflected deeply upon that living. In this small, but very weighty tome, he distills his conclusions about life being lived fully, deeply, in full awareness and completeness. His words are dense, accurate and speak directly to the heart. This is not a book that can be, nor needs to be, read quickly. Each page, often each paragraph, holds ideas which explode into the mind and attach to the Spirit of the reader. “We do not ‘make’ or ‘create’ souls; we just ‘grow them up.’”(p.x) “None of us go into our spiritual maturity completely of our own accord, or by a totally free choice. We are led by Mystery, which religious people rightly call grace.” (p. xvi) “We grow spiritually much more by getting it wrong (making mistakes) than by doing it right.” (p. xxii) (emphasis mine). “Myths are true basically because they work.” (p. xxx) “. . . whatever reconnects (re-ligio) our parts to the Whole is in experience of God, whether we call it that or not.” (p. xxxiv) These are but a few “moments upon which to pause” found in the introduction. The next 168 pages are likewise dense. Fr. Rohr’s premise is that life is divided into two halves. The first half is spent building a “container” (education, career, family, identify, etc.) for our life. The second half can be the filling of that container with fullness, depth, simplicity leading to the individual becoming an “elder” for those in the first half of life.  This “Falling Upward” of the second half of life brings about a wideness of life, the understanding of rules as suggestions for life but they are to be followed only as far as they create connection and relationship. Using poetry, a lot of Biblical Scripture, Depth and Self Psychology, Mythology and a Wisdom Literature from a broad spectrum of faith systems, the author makes a strong argument for his case. He speaks clearly of the need to embrace the pain and tragedy common to life, letting it teach us the richness that comes from living full and which can occur only by surrendering what we think we know and the expectations of how things should be. Only by doing so can one fill the “container” of life’s “first half,” giving it meaning definition and the wideness of true freedom. “Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God’s own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us.” (p. 57). “The more you exclude, the more hellish and lonely your existence is.” (p. 101) Repeatedly, Fr. Rohr reminds the reader that “God writes straight using crooked lines,” and the both of life’s “halves” reflect the truth that we are the “writing” brought about by such Grace.  There is much depth, reality and heart-freeing truth found in this book that to hint at its benefit to me would require a long in-person discussion of each chapter. I would welcome such discourse.
DoranneLongPTMS More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book, to be read again and again. Written by a man who knows from whence he comes. (Similar to reading Parker Palmer.) Almost every page in my book is high-lighted for a variety of reasons: great quotes from people who speak with wisdom, an affirmation of where we are in our own lives, great imagery, affirmation, and encouragement. It doesn't have to be either/or; it can be both/and. I too see life as positive or negative energy; I choose to add positive energy to the world, and to those around me. One of my take-away images is that of a mirror: "Let the Light mirror you; we can reflect on our lives to get a sense of who we are; we need true friends to be honest mirrors for us; hopefully our work on this earth will be a good refection on us.
davep More than 1 year ago
The book gives a superb insight into the progression followed by thinkers of how God interfaces with humans at various times of their lives. The book highlights the second half of life, usually 50-60 or older, and the changes that occur during that time when more introspection is usually accomplished.
rkebell More than 1 year ago
This should be required reading for anyone 50 years or older.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I find Rohh's thesis thought provoking as we pass through our various stages of life and wonder what it is all about and what happens beyond. Is there a God? Is there a heaven and hell? Is heaven on earth what God seeks for us humans? If so, is there an after-life experience? Rohr helped me wrestle with these questions.
Storiale More than 1 year ago
Hi Interview on Pete Holmes's podcast was excellent and thoughtful. I will be buying this book based on that 2 hour interview and I can't wait to get it. I will update this post after I read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. I will read it more than once. This book gives you lots to think about and is very uplifting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have recommended this book to more people than I have any other book. It is not a fast read. It is a serious soul-searching study.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoughtful & insightful understanding of the seasons and journey of life.
HCE2 More than 1 year ago
A very thoughtful book about the 2 halves of life, and what it means to be with God here on earth. A fantastic read, filled with more thought provoking ideas than most any other book I have read. A must read if you are a Christian.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think whether you felt it was an exceptional book or completely the opposite depends upon, as Rohr writes about, whether or not you have had the experience of Falling Upward. Even if you have only "fallen" and are awaiting the "upward" part you will find value in what Rohr has to say. Essentially what he is writing about is the Paschal Mystery ha is for all of us to experience in the here and now and not just at the end of our lives. What Rohr is teaching his readers is what truly is the Good News of Jesus Christ that too often is never understood  and thus missed. It's a short read, so if your on the fence of whether or not to read it, I say give it a shot.  If it doesn't speak to you you will not have lost much time in your life; however, if you are at a place in your life where this will "hit you between the eyes" you will experience "new life within" and be forever grateful you took the time to read it.If you don't want to risk spending the money, then get it at the library!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love it.  I am buying another copy for a friend.
floridalinda More than 1 year ago
Richard Rohr examines the two halves of life with depth that requires (for me) a second reading. So much to ponder as one looks at life from his/her own vantage point. FALLING UPWARD is not about the downward spiral of life as one ages, but about the call to a fuller life with different and broader values.
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