Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices (Ancient Practices Series)

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Shines a practical light on the spiritual disciplines that have been in use since the time of Abraham.

In a sense, every day of our lives is labor. It is questionable if you can ever be exactly the same person waking up on two consecutive days. How are spiritual sojourners to cope with the constant change? Many are beginning to explore the ancient Christian spiritual practices that have been in use for centuries, everything from fixed-hour prayer to fasting to sincere observance...

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Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices

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Overview

Shines a practical light on the spiritual disciplines that have been in use since the time of Abraham.

In a sense, every day of our lives is labor. It is questionable if you can ever be exactly the same person waking up on two consecutive days. How are spiritual sojourners to cope with the constant change? Many are beginning to explore the ancient Christian spiritual practices that have been in use for centuries, everything from fixed-hour prayer to fasting to sincere observance of the Sabbath. What is causing this hunger for deeper spirituality?

Brian McLaren guides us on this quest for an explanation of these spiritual practices, many of which go all the way back to Abraham and the establishment of Israel. In the midst of contemporary Christianity, we discover the beauty of these ancient disciplines and the transformation through Christ that each can provide.

Why have certain spiritual disciplines been in use for centuries and why is it important?

It is questionable if one can ever be exactly the same person waking up on two consecutive days. How are spiritual sojourners to cope with the constant change? Many are beginning to explore the ancient Christian spiritual practices, such as fixed-hour prayer, fasting and sincere observance of the Sabbath. What is causing this hunger for deeper spirituality?

Brian McLaren guides us on this quest for an explanation of these spiritual practices, many of which go all the way back to Abraham and the establishment of Israel. In the midst of contemporary Christianity, we discover the beauty of these disciplines and the transformation through Christ that each can provide.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Prolific author and pastor McLaren is a big-picture guy. One of the most influential thinkers in the emergent church movement, he likes to analyze and categorize. This book, which inaugurates a series about traditional spiritual practices, paves the way for future installments by elaborating the big-picture rationale for spiritual disciplines: they cleanse us, enlighten us and bring us closer to God. As the title signals, they will also help us find our way past the unsatisfactory alternatives of secularism, dangerous fundamentalism and "mushy spirituality." The former English teacher has a gift for the pithy phrase that nails a concept: "faithing our practices" is seeing the sacred value of everyday activities, for example. McLaren fans will enjoy his usual breadth of vision, easy style of exposition and synthesis of big ideas. His more conservative detractors may find him too generous in his references to the other two Abrahamic faiths in discussing spiritual practices. This book nicely opens the door for a series as well as a more disciplined Christian life. (May 6)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

This is the first of eight titles in the publisher's "Ancient Practices" series, in which expert authors individually address such topics as the Sabbath, fasting, tithing, and Communion (next in the series and publishing concurrently with this volume: Robert Benson's In Constant Prayer). In this series starter, author, speaker, and pastor McLaren (A New Kind of Christian) discusses the subject of spirituality in three sections: the first section addresses Christian faith as a way of life, the second covers spiritual practices, and the third deals with ancient spiritual traditions. Each chapter ends with spiritual exercises for deeper reflection on the ideas presented within. While the language is nontechnical and easy to understand, McLaren shows a strong grasp of scripture, church history, and ancient spiritual practices. He is the ideal candidate to kick off this series, as he motivates readers to pursue the topic at a deeper level. While this book focuses specifically on Christian spirituality, a bit of attention is given to that of Judaism and Islam. Highly recommended for all libraries.
—John Jaeger

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780849901140
  • Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/6/2008
  • Series: Ancient Practices Series
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Brian D. McLaren is an internationally known speaker and the author of over ten highly acclaimed books on contemporary Christianity, including A New Kind of Christian, A Generous Orthodoxy, and The Secret Message of Jesus.

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Read an Excerpt


FINDING OUR WAY AGAIN

THE RETURN OF THE ANCIENT PRACTICES

By BRIAN MCLAREN Thomas Nelson
Copyright © 2008
Brian D. McLaren
All right reserved.


ISBN: 978-0-8499-0114-0


Chapter One SEARCHING FOR AN EVERYDAY SACREDNESS

It was one of those moments of panic that gets translated into anxiety dreams-the kind where you're trying to run, but your legs feel like a mixture of lead and rubber, or where you're transported back in time to a hallway in your high school, and you look down to realize you forgot to put on your pants, or where you're trying to catch a train, but your suitcase falls open, and your clothes pour out on the platform.

I was at a conference for pastors, where I had been asked to introduce a famous speaker, Dr. Peter Senge. I had come well prepared, because at the time I was in my thirties and quite fearful of doing anything less than excellently. So it puzzled me that in the days leading up to Dr. Senge's presentation, the event organizer, Brad, kept quizzing me: "Hey, Brian-ready for your big day on Thursday?" Why is he so anxious about my introduction? I thought. Either I'm a liability, or he's a control freak. The night before the big day, Brad nudged me one more time. "So, Brian, you're sure you're ready to interview Dr. Senge tomorrow, right?"

That's the moment when the real-life anxiety dream began. Interview Dr. Senge? I thought to myself in panic. But I thought I was only supposed to introduce him. It didn't matter how themisunderstanding had occurred. Ready or not, I was on for the big event.

"Sure thing, Brad," I responded casually. Trying to appear calm, I beat a hasty retreat to my room, frantically pulled out a yellow pad, and began scribbling possible questions. Dr. Senge was scheduled to appear from a remote location via satellite teleconference, which only made the task more daunting.

The next day I arrived at the lecture hall a half hour early and went over timing with Brad and his team. Then, predictably, there was a "bug" in the satellite hookup, so I soon found myself standing in front of the crowd next to a large screen filled with static, filling in time. I could see someone in the production booth making exaggerated gestures at me, pulling apart the fingertips of his two hands in a kind of taffy-stretching motion. I ran through my planned introduction about Dr. Senge being one of the fathers of systems thinking. Then I began to improvise, describing how his book The Fifth Discipline had influenced my thinking as a pastor, and so on, and so on.

Just as I was about to break into a couple of dance steps to entertain the crowd, the satellite hookup was completed. I looked down at my yellow legal pad and stumbled into one of the lamest opening questions ever asked: "Hello, Dr. Senge. It's a great honor for us to have you with us. Your image is being projected to about five hundred pastors. I imagine this is a different kind of crowd than you normally address. What would you like to say to a group of five hundred Christian ministers?"

Dr. Senge's gracious response compensated for my nervousness: "Well, Brian, you're right. I don't normally speak to pastors. Actually, I was thinking about that very question yesterday when I was in a large bookstore. I asked the bookstore manager what the most popular books are these days. Most popular, he said, were books about how to get rich in the new information economy, which didn't surprise me."

A ripple of laughter gave me a moment of relief. Dr. Senge continued, "Second most popular, the manager said, were books about spirituality, and in particular, books about Buddhism. And so when I thought about speaking to five hundred Christian pastors today, I thought I'd begin by asking you all a question: why are books on Buddhism so popular, and not books on Christianity?"

Great. Not only did I have to pose questions to a face on the screen, but now I had to field one from him as well. I managed to recover enough to punt the question back to him. "Well, Dr. Senge," I said, trying not to sound as clumsy as I felt, "how would you answer that question?"

He replied, "I think it's because Buddhism presents itself as a way of life, and Christianity presents itself as a system of belief. So I would want to get Christian ministers thinking about how to rediscover their own faith as a way of life, because that's what people are searching for today. That's what they need most."

I don't remember a single thing about the rest of the interview, but I will always remember Dr. Senge's statement. In fact, a number of the attendees told me how that one statement was worth the price of the entire event for them. In the days and weeks after the event, I couldn't stop thinking about the relative proportions we in our religious communities had assigned to "system of belief" and to "way of life." And I couldn't help but agree with Dr. Senge: we must rediscover our faith as a way of life, not simply as a system of belief.

The issue, of course, isn't either/or, but both/and; it's hard to deny that too many of us have lost the "way" of our faith. Without a coherent and compelling way of life, formed in community and expressed in mission, some of us begin losing interest in the system of belief, or we begin holding it grimly, even meanly, driving more and more people away from our faith rather than attracting them toward it.

Those who reject religion are often rejecting a certain arid system of belief, or if not that, a set of trivial taboos or rules or rituals that have lost meaning for them-each the thin residue of a lost way of life.

However, in this age of environmental unsustainability, the unconscionable juxtaposition between wasteful luxury and crushing poverty, and intensifying conflicts that can avalanche into potentially catastrophic war, nearly everyone, whether nonreligious or religious, seems to agree that we need to discover or rediscover a viable way of life. Much of what we'll explore in this series of books will involve restoring a kind of sacred normalcy to the rhythms of life-making prayer ordinary in our daily schedule or annual calendar; making generosity normal, normative, and habitual so that it is done automatically; making regular time for rest every single week whether we feel we need it or not, as a matter of routine; practicing simplicity instead of consumption; countering violence with peacemaking.

If the modern era can be characterized by a cold war between scientific and religious belief systems, then the postmodern era can best be characterized by a search for spirituality, a word that somehow captures this idea of a viable, sustainable, meaningful way of life. After centuries of a relationship almost always characterized by the term versus, the scientific and religious communities seem to realize that we need to move beyond our deadlock, our polarization, our binary, either/or thinking regarding faith and reason, religion and science, matter and spirit.

The word spiritual captures this reintegration for us; it says, "We don't believe that conventional organized religion has all the answers for us, nor does secular, reductionist science. We need a fusion of the sacred and the secular. We need an everyday sacredness." The word spirituality tries to capture that fusion of everyday sacredness. For many people, it represents a life-giving alternative to secularist fundamentalism and religious fundamentalism, the former offering the world weapons of mass destruction and the latter stirring emotions to put the suicidal machinery into motion.

Our story (in the West, at least) could be told like this: we are witnessing the transition from conventional premodern religions, to an early modern period of institutional religion, to a late-modern religious collapse and replacement by secularism, to a growing dissatisfaction with all of the above-premodern religion, institutional religion, and modern secularism. This dissatisfaction in some cases has led to a reactionary resurgence of pushy fundamentalism-fearful, manic, violent, apocalyptic. And in other cases it has led to a search for a new kind of spirituality. The success or failure of this search will, no doubt, play a major role in the story of the twenty-first century.

In its early stages, this search for spirituality has been associated with the term new age, which for many means something vague, consumerist, undefined, and mushy. However, in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, more and more of us are realizing that a warm but mushy spirituality is no match for hot and pushy fundamentalism, of whatever religious variety, especially when that fundamentalism is well armed, dangerous, and in the mood for an apocalypse. More and more of us feel, more and more intensely, the need for a fresh, creative alternative-a fourth alternative, something beyond militarist scientific secularism, pushy religious fundamentalism, and mushy amorphous spirituality.

This alternative, we realize, needs to be creative and new to face the new challenges of a new age, a world gone "post-al"-postmodern, postcolonial, post-Enlightenment, post-Christendom, post-Holocaust, post-9/11. Yet it also needs to derive strength from the old religious traditions; it needs to face new-age challenges with age-old wisdom. The challenge of the future will require, we realize, rediscovery and adaptive reuse of resources from the ancient past.

This book-together with the series of books it introduces-explores this fresh alternative, this fourth way beyond three unacceptable alternatives. It seeks to bring ancient spiritual practices to bear on the emerging world. It reaches toward an alternative beyond a reductionistic secularism, beyond a reactive and intransigent fundamentalism, and beyond a vague, consumerist spirituality.

This new focus is an acknowledgment that we have lost the path and are seeking to rediscover our faith as a way of life, shaped and strengthened by ancient practices. Although written by a Christian primarily for Christians, this initial book in the series extends our acknowledgment to unreligious people as well as to adherents of all three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each of the books following this one in the series will explore in depth and detail one of the seven ancient practices shared by the Abrahamic faith traditions: fixed-hour prayer, fasting, Sabbath, the sacred meal, pilgrimage, observance of sacred seasons, and giving.

SPIRITUAL EXERCISES

1. Using the matrix below, plot your life in five-year increments. For example, when you were five years old, was your faith more a way of life or a system of belief, or was it low on both counts? How about at fifteen? Twenty-five? Where would you like it to be for five-year increments into the future?

2. Imagine yourself in the cold war between science and religion described in this chapter. Which side have you been on? Or have you been caught in the crossfire? Describe your experience and how this war has affected you or people close to you.

3. Reflect on the ideas of a "fusion between the sacred and the secular" and "everyday sacredness." Describe your experiences of this kind of fusion, and then describe your aspirations or hopes for it. What would it mean for you to learn how to live in this kind of fusion?

4. Consider the three common religious alternatives described in this chapter: scientific secularism, "hot and pushy fundamentalism," and "warm but mushy spirituality." Name strengths and weaknesses of each, and then imagine combining the strengths into a fourth alternative.

5. Give yourself permission to write in this book (unless it's borrowed from the library or a friend). Underline. Write notes in the margins. Ask questions. Jot down ideas. Talk back. Make this book a two-way conversation.

6. Go over your answers to questions one through four above. Say (or better, write) a prayer that expresses your hopes, desires, dreams, concerns, and decisions

(Continues...)




Excerpted from FINDING OUR WAY AGAIN by BRIAN MCLAREN Copyright © 2008 by Brian D. McLaren. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
<%TOC%>Contents ACKNOWLEDGMENTS....................vii
CHAPTER 1: SEARCHING FOR AN EVERYDAY SACREDNESS....................1
PART 1 : WAY CHAPTER 2: WHY SPIRITUAL PRACTICES MATTER....................11
CHAPTER 3: THE GENESIS OF PRACTICE....................21
CHAPTER 4: PRACTICING THE WAY OF JESUS....................31
CHAPTER 5: PAUL AND THE WAY OF LOVE....................41
CHAPTER 6: SHARING TREASURES AMONG FRIENDS....................51
CHAPTER 7: OPEN-SOURCE SPIRITUALITY....................61
CHAPTER 8: SHALLOW TROUBLE, DEEP TROUBLE....................67
PART 2 : PRACTICES CHAPTER 9: PRACTICE MAKES POSSIBLE....................79
CHAPTER 10: CONTEMPLATIVE PRACTICES....................89
CHAPTER 11: COMMUNAL PRACTICES....................99
CHAPTER 12: MISSIONAL PRACTICES....................113
CHAPTER 13: THE CYCLE WE FIND OURSELVES IN....................123
CHAPTER 14: MOVING ON....................131
PART 3 : ANCIENT CHAPTER 15: PRACTICING THE ANCIENT WAY....................143
CHAPTER 16: KATHARSIS (VIA PURGATIVA)....................151
CHAPTER 17: FOTOSIS (VIA ILLUMINATIVA)....................159
CHAPTER 18: THEOSIS (VIA UNITIVA)....................169
CHAPTER 19: FAITHING OUR PRACTICES....................181
CHAPTER 20: LEARNING BY (BROKEN) HEART....................191
NOTES....................205
ABOUT THE AUTHOR....................215
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     vii
Searching for an Everyday Sacredness     1
Way
Why Spiritual Practices Matter     11
The Genesis of Practice     21
Practicing the Way of Jesus     31
Paul and the Way of Love     41
Sharing Treasures Among Friends     51
Open-Source Spirituality     61
Shallow Trouble, Deep Trouble     67
Practices
Practice Makes Possible     79
Contemplative Practices     89
Communal Practices     99
Missional Practices     113
The Cycle We Find Ourselves in     123
Moving on     131
Ancient
Practicing the Ancient Way     143
Katharsis (Via Purgativa)     151
Fotosis (Via Illuminativa)     159
Theosis (Via Unitiva)     169
Faithing our Practices     181
Learning by (Broken) Heart     191
Notes     205
About the Author     215
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 26, 2011

    Tough Read but enlightening

    Finding Our Way Again- The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren is one work of a larger series about Ancient Practices of our Christian Faith. This was the first book of Brian McLaren I have ever read personally though I have listened to numerous podcasts from him with other christian authors. I was also excited about the book because of the general editor of the series Phyllis Tickle, who I highly respect and enjoyed listening to in a recent video series I lead that she was apart of. Over all the book was a tough read. The entire thesis of the book was to share ancient practices all Abrahamic faiths (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism) follow. McLaren shares about why spiritual practices matter and he gives his opinion on three different types of spiritual practices that are included in our spiritual journey. Which include contemplative practices which prepare us for God's grace which include solitude, Sabbath, silence, spiritual readying, etc. Communal practices which include hospitality, attentiveness, etc. Finally, missional practices which include worship gatherings, forgiveness, serving, giving, etc.

    Brian McLaren is a great speaker and always has an interesting viewpoint on things, some i disagree with, but he always has a great and interesting perspective to learn from when it comes to spiritual matters. Its a tough read and I do recommend it if someone wants a different perspective on spiritual disciplines for their life. The book does include discussion questions for small groups which is a major plus.

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  • Posted May 17, 2011

    Review: Finding Our Way Again - Brian D. McLaren

    I've loved other books by Brian D. McLaren. He's always had a way of bring religious issues into an area where they made sense to me. On some levels, we have similar beliefs and values, and I think that's why he's appealed to me. In this book, Mr. McLaren describes some of the old practices that have fallen out of use in Christianity. He goes into great detail on what these practices were, and how they are valuable. The practices are broken up into Contemplative, Communal, and Missional. These practices he says are ways to become aware and stay awake to God.

    Contemplative practices are broken down into solitude, Spiritual reading, spiritual friendships, learning to be aware of God, prayer, journaling, and contemplation.

    Communal Practices are joining together with others in a community such as churches, volunteering, etc.

    Missional is going out to help others and minister to others.

    Mr. McLaren did do a good job from the Judeo-Christian standpoint of showing common areas in belief between Christians, Jews, and Muslim's. At the end of each chapter, he also includes practices, etc. to help you develop those particular areas a little more.

    I think this book for someone already posessing a strong faith, would be help greatly in allowing them to focus more deeply on it. As the first book in a series called The Ancient Practices Series, it left me a little flat. But I think it's because it was an introductory volume. I'd love to read the others in the series to see if they go deeper into his ideas.

    If you like different looks at spirituality, then I'd say you might find this book interesting. If you are looking for a training guide to show you how to tap into these practices, then you may want to look at one of the other books in the series. It's not an awful book, I managed to learn a great deal, I just didn't learn what I expected from it.

    Here are the other books in the series:

    In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson
    Sabbath by Dan Allender
    Fasting by Scot McKnight
    Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher
    Sacred Journey by Diana Butler Bass
    The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister
    Tithing by Douglas LeBlanc

    *Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Booksneeze for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2011

    Don't Waste Your Money

    The original premise of the book, growing deeper in our faith by taking time to pray, fast and study God's Word, is wonderful. However, the author took a tangent that laid waste to the original premise. By equating Judaism, Christianity and Islam, he slapped the face of our Lord and told Him He was irrelevant. Quite frankly, I am appalled that Thomas Nelson would print such a book. The references to social justice and the equating of several religions that are in no way equal is just another way of stating that there are many ways to God while promoting "works righteousness."

    It took me over six months to slog through this book. The only reason I finally finished it was because I gave my word that if Thomas Nelson sent me a book, I'd read and review it. Had I known that the author would equate Islam with Christianity and never point to Jesus as the Way, the Truth and Life, I would not have ordered it.

    I respect that the author is a "Christian pastor," but as such, he should be attempting to gather people to Christ, not scattering them with half truths and wishful thoughts (Mt 12:30). He should also realize that with this book, he has denied his Lord before men. He who denies his Lord before others will find himself denied before the Father (Matt 10:33).

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of the Thomas Nelson book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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  • Posted April 4, 2011

    Finding Our Way Again

    I waited anxiously to receive this book in the mail, as I am always interested in learning more about the ancient practices of the Church. The first chapter really captivated me and I could not wait to read more. My enthusiasm came to an abrupt halt when I turned the page to chapter 5, "Paul, and the way of Love".

    "Then we can see Paul's message echoing Jesus' message, calling people to a way of life characterized by reconciliation with God, one another, and all creation in a global community." Sure, Paul was doing the work of the Lord, but I have seen in throughout the ages too much idol worship of Paul and those who choose to manipulate his words in the Church to suit the occasion. I am a follower of Jesus, not the disciples. "Paul, like Jesus, is a love guy, calling people to follow a love road, to walk a love path, to practice a love way", "It's not simply a doctrine or teaching that Paul wants to convey, it's a way of life that's seen as well as heard." The author does not acknowledge that Paul was a disciple of Jesus and I think to write a complete chapter on the teachings of Paul is ludicrous. The only authority he had was the authority granted to him by God. His teacher was the Great Master himself, who happened to live with, eat with, sleep with, and spend every waking hour with the disciples, showing them how to live this new way of life. It did not come before Jesus; it was a new concept to the Church at large.

    Chapter 5 invalidated anything the author researched or spoke of in the previous chapters and I could not get past it, as my beliefs are so radically different. He is a good writer and did his research but I disagree with his teaching.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    BUYER BEWARE

    DON'T BUY THIS BOOK (Or ANY book by Brian McLaren)they are misleading! That is my quick some up for you skimmers out there! Now, for anyone who wants to know why, read on.

    I read "Finding Our Way Again" hoping to obtain some insight and direction ministry work I am doing. From the opening pages of the book I was feeling a mixture of anticipation and apprehension.

    The basic idea of this book is good, to return to our roots of worship to cultivate a closer walk with God and foster a spirit of love and understanding and community. I was initially sold on the idea that it is not about religion, rather about relationship.

    However, McLaren (who does not have a degree in divinity. he has an honorary degree which isn't the same) taints this message by 'preaching' Marxist, socialistic, and even atheistic ideas as his basis for argument. He spends most of the book quoting men (and mentors as he refers to some of them) who harbor these same ideas.

    Social Order, distribution of wealth, one world religion, and 'down with the system' are themes I saw carried throughout the pages of this book. He openly blames the system for the problems of society (Whether or not the system has blame is irrelevant but the Bible does not hold a message of "blame") and just as blatantly retracts faith declarations when met with people who question Christianity.

    This book disturbed me. If people like McLaren are the guys teaching in seminary and leading the nation in "evangelistic" speaking, we are certainly doomed. Faith is non-negotiable, but he would have you think otherwise. There is no middle ground the scriptures are clear about that.

    BEWARE, please. There are many false teachers out there right now. Brian McLaren and Neale Donald Walsch are two of the worst right now. They write books, speak at conferences, and come across as God fearing with a message of love and peace. On the outside they seem upright and just. Yet the underlying truths in their claims are the antithesis of what the Bible and Christ call to us. Research authors before you read. Be sure they are NOT against individual salvation, end times theology, and preaching the Good News. Nor should they be for changing/transforming Christianity or macro-evolution and the secular traditional views of Darwin's Theory.

    I know it seems like I am ranting, and maybe I am. I type this review after taking a few days to calm down! So let me depart in peace and share the scripture God put on my heart as the essence of this book:

    "If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain." - 1 Timothy 6:3-5

    DISCLAIMER: I received this book free of charge from Book Sneeze in exchange for agreeing to provide an unbiased review. I am not required to submit a positive review, and I am not paid for my review. This review is my opinion.

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  • Posted March 5, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    NOT for the AVERAGE READER - You must be HIGHLY EDUCATED to understand it.

    The following review was written by a guest blogger on my blog so that the book would get a fair review. I myself even having 2 and a half years of college behind me could not understand or keep up with what this author was trying to get across. Perhaps it was because I had in mind something entirely different from what the title and description told me. Anyway, a very learned friend from my church completed this review: Patti Creek- On with the review.

    I found this to be an intriguing and interesting read.simply because I have not heard of this approach to life previously. The author seems to be an open minded, objective thinker. The book is very well written and laced with dry, witty humor - much to my liking. The authors ability to communicate his ideas is exceptional, however; his use of many nonconventional words requiring a dictionary in hand could be somewhat of a burden for the average reader.

    Finding Our Way Again is book number one in a series of eight books of returning to the ancient practices. I discovered that to effectively understand what Mr. McLaren is attempting to communicate one needs to have read his previous books. References throughout Finding Our Way Again point to these writing, and it would have been to my advantage to have read these books. I had never read any of Mr. McLaren's books or heard of him, and some research into his background would have been helpful prior to reading Finding Our Way Again. Mr. McLaren's writing leads to his belief and ideas of a global religion acceptance, a communal life and an ecumenical religion. I do not agree or accept this idea, and reject it.

    Mr. McLaren's advancement of the idea that religion needs to be a life style rather than a definition of beliefs struck a chord with me, and is something that I have been attempting to proliferate for some time among those that I am able to influence. The idea that a person's life must include purging, light and living in light is the basic principles of a Christian's life (repentance, baptism, and the Holy Spirit). Three chapters in this book do a good job, yet in a strange way, of conveying this principle.

    This book was a difficult read.a hard book to follow, perhaps for the reasons I cited in paragraphs one and two. I disagreed with much of the author's theology. I found myself taking issue with the author frequently, but at other times having to search my soul. As I read the authors projections in this book I would compare them to my beliefs, my life style, and my experience with God. I came away with a stronger persuasion for what I believe and in who I am in this world and to God.

    Carl Ford

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  • Posted February 17, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A thought provoking book

    I recently read Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren. I picked up this book because being a person who loves being "a 21st century Christian" I also realize that we need never forget where we have come from. There are 2000 years of Church history behind us and we can learn a lot from those that have come before us. Being a pastor of what would considered a "contemporary" church (versus a liturgical church) I have been interested in expanding my spiritual growth by looking at some "ancient practices" of early Christians. Brian does a good job of opening up the readers eyes to the ancient practices of fixed-hour prayer, fasting, sacred meals, observing the Sabbath, and pilgrimage. He explores the issues of Via Purgativa (katharsis), Via Illuminativa (fotosis), and Via Unitiva (theosis). Being someone very unfamiliar with these practices and terms, it was a very thought-provoking read.

    I will admit that there were things in the book that I wouldn't have agreed on theological but it's not necessarily a theological book. To me, it was a primer on the ancient practices of Christianity and the benefit that modern day Christians can derive from these practices. In a world where we are constantly driven, it's a nice thought of just taking the time to focus on our spiritual growth without reading another book on five keys to this, or seven secrets to that. The ancient ways are very simplistic ways to further connect with God. I learned a lot through this book. It was well worth my time to read and even to practice some of these disciplines. This book attempts to help us understand that these ancient practices help us develop character, awaken us to be alive and become more fully human, and help us experience God.

    Read this book with an open mind to glean from it. You may or may not agree with everything Brian says but, if willing, your mind and spiritual growth can be expanded by practicing some of the ancient ways.

    I received this book from Thomas Nelson publishers in exchange for my honest review. I am not obligated to write a positive review. The opinions stated above are my honest thoughts concerning this book.

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  • Posted February 16, 2011

    Very recommended!

    This is a book from the Ancient Practices Series, I'm not sure which book it is, but they are all very good & do indeed help you understand the Christian religion alot better, and explains the history of the Christian holidays, like the book The Sabbaths. Its got side notes that are helpful, and one stood out to me when I first skimmed the book, it says "Spiritual practices are about life, about training ourselves to become the kinds of people who have eyes & actually see, and who have ears and actually hear, and so experence....not just survival, but LIFE." That is the truth, for sure. I look forward to receiving more books in this Ancient practices series to learn more & hep me understand the path of Love of the Christian path.

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  • Posted February 16, 2011

    Not what I expected

    Brian McLaren has made a writing and lecturing career out of being controversial. Sometimes I think he creates controversy where there is not enough so that he can be on the other side of it.

    As I've said in other posts, I like the questions McLaren asks. I don't necessarily agree with his conclusions, but given the opportunity to read yet another Mclaren book, I of course seized it.

    This book, Finding Our Way: The Return of the Ancient Practices, is not McLaren's typical fair. Unlike other books he has written, this book is an introduction of sorts to a series edited by Phyllis Tickle. Because it is part of another person's series (Tickle is technically the editor of the series), I got the feeling that McLaren was somewhat pulling his punches. It wasn't his usual full-out assault.

    I had a couple of issues with this book. The biggest one was that what McLaren calls "ancient" practices are really medieval practices. In fact, he spends several chapters in an imaginary journey to a medieval abbey. This is misleading, and I understand that calling the book "The Return to Medieval Practices" wouldn't have sounded so romantic - but there you are.

    Another issue is that the entire book seems somewhat unfocused. You more or less have to piece together the structure of these ancient practices. Although McLaren provides several different lists of practices, they are overlapping and confusing. On top of that, personally I felt that he added a lot of his pet practices in where we would be hard pressed to find them in ancient cultures.

    I feel as if the book really did not live up to its title. All around, I found the book to be somewhat vanilla. Perhaps I expect too much from McLaren.

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  • Posted February 13, 2011

    Finding Our Way Out Again - A Review

    A good friend of mine once told me, "When you eat a watermelon, you spit out the seeds." I've never read anything by Brian McLaren before and Finding Our Way Again is the watermelon that I picked. Truthfully McLaren and guys/gals like him don't write the things I typically read. In reading this book I've reaffirmed why I don't typically read guys in the "emergent" camp, but at the same time given myself some affirmation to read them.

    McLaren's book is a book on Spiritual disciplines of sorts. He seeks to show that a pious lifestyle is indeed a religious one. (Most people cringe when you call Christianity a religion. It is.) A Christian life consists of religious practices. McLaren introduces us to the practices of Christ the Lord and the Apostles as he sees them. One of the things that McLaren does well is that he shows the communal centrality of the Christian life and the practices thereof. I appreciate his emphasis on the liturgical aspect of Christianity, even if you don't think you have a liturgy McLaren rightfully shows that we all do. We all have set worship practices. Not only are this practices communal within the community of faith they also are communal with God. The ideas expressed in the book aren't to just give the religious more items of practice to become more religious. I believe McLaren genuinely desires for his readers to have a deeper relationship with God by following ancient practices. The book is worth reading to pick up on some of these practices and understand the communion between God and his people in their day to day religious practices. The edible parts of this melon might not be the sweetest in the world, but they're edible nevertheless.

    But with every watermelon, even the 'seedless' ones (you know those little white ones that aren't fully developed that come in the 'seedless' ones you buy once a year on the 4th of July), there are seeds. I'm fearful in reading McLaren in where he truly comes down on some issues. On more than one occasion I wonder where McLaren truly stands on the exclusivity of the gospel. It appears at times that an Abrahamic monotheism is sufficient piety in the eyes of God and that those that practice Judaism, Islam, and Christianity are all of the same brotherhood. Shared practices we may have, parts of our world-views may be shared, but we do not all worship the one true living God. There are also times when you read the book that I wonder if McLaren is flirting with pantheism. Beware reader of these things. I wouldn't recommend this book to those who are new to the faith or have plenty of other things to read. There are far too many things of much more profit for your soul than what can be found in this volume.

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  • Posted February 12, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Katharsis, fotosis, theosis

    Brian McLaren does an excellent job providing an overview of the theory and foundations of ancient Christian spiritual practices.

    His treatment of katharsis (via purgativa), fotosis (via illuminativa), and theosis (via unitiva) is especially enlightening.

    However, this book serves as the introduction to seven others. I prefer the author's original work to this creative implementation of the series editor's outline.

    Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in return for an unbiased review.

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  • Posted February 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent resource for your walk with Christ!

    Finding Our Way Again (ThomasNelson Publisher) is the cornerstone of an eight volume series called The Ancient Practices Series. It serves to introduce and prepare the reader to delve deeper into the seven practices of Fixed-hour prayer, fasting, Sabbath, the sacred meal, pilgrimage, observance of sacred seasons, and tithing. In this well written book, the author, Brian McLaren, lays the foundation with this simple truth; that "...Jesus didn't come to start a new religion; he came to proclaim a new kingdom," and "By a new kingdom, Jesus meant a new way of life, a new arrangement and set of values, a new order and a new array of priorities and commitments, a new vision of peace and how to achieve it." For the reader who truly wishes to get closer Christ in their journey to the new kingdom, it requires committing oneself to that new way of life, and the Ancient Practices offer insight and guidance on how one can achieve that. I recommend that anyone interested in learning more about these practices, first read Finding Our Way Again in order to place proper context around the remaining books in the series. More information is available at the ThomasNelson website. In full disclosure, I am a Book Review Blogger who participates in the ThomasNelson "BookSneeze" program, and received this book for free in exchange of an honest review. If I didn't like it, I would have simply told you so... Enjoy!

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  • Posted January 30, 2011

    Disappointing

    I was very kindly given a review copy by Thomas Nelson of Brian McLaren's book Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices, so that I could deliver an unbiased review. It is part of The Ancient Practices Series that Thomas Nelson has developed. I had assumed that the book would be about ancient Christian practices, but much mention was made of Islam and Judaism. Since, to me, Christianity is the culmination of Judaism I didn't mind some discussion of this religion, however, Islam, really has nothing to do with Christianity except to, maybe, be in opposition to it.

    I know all this stuff about the three big religions all sharing commonalities is all the rage these days, but I am a Christian, a practicing Catholic and I frankly have no interest in Islam. When I knew very little about Islam and its culture, I was in happy ignorance. But quite frankly, the more I learn about Islam the more I find it a disturbing religion and one, that I believe, does not share the "same" God as the Old and New Testaments.

    That being said, I found McLaren's writing style somewhat round about and meandering which made it difficult for me to read. Even though I am a Catholic I do read other Christian authors and thought that a discussion of the ancient practices would be interesting. It turned out to be different than I expected. I don't feel like I really learned about the ancient practices of prayer, fasting, etc.

    I can't say that I came away with a lot of information and found it rather difficult to absorb due, I believe, mainly to McLaren's writing style.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted January 14, 2011

    GOOD FOR MY WOOD STOVE!

    INTRODUCTION: "Finding Our Way Again: the Return of the Ancient Practices" by Brian McLaren is a re-publishing of the original title from 2008. The difference being that editor, Phyllis Tickle, added study questions, which she calls "spiritual exercises", at the end of each chapter.

    I agreed to read this book not because I especially like or agree with what McLaren's teaches, but because I wanted to give him another chance -- a chance to convince me he teaches true biblical Christianity. I was not surprised that his teaching is still as -- if not moreso -- "New Age" as he has been in years past.

    From the opening pages of "Finding Our Way", McLaren makes it clear that he hopes Christianity will become more attractive to the world as a "way of life", rather than as a "system of beliefs." I couldn't agree more that Christians ought to "live" Christianity, not just hold beliefs. However, early, McLaren draws parallels between the world's three most prominent religions: Christianty, Islam, and Judaism. He professes to his readers that he believes Jesus, but the reader is left with no distinction between Jesus, Muhammad, or Moses. He also leaves his readers with the notion that all three religions possess the same access to God, although theologically all three say something completely different about who Jesus Christ is.

    OVERVIEW: The first part 14 chapters of the book contain a lot of fluff, reasons why people of all religions should practice spiritual disciplines, or the "ancient way". McLaren believes one "great reason to pursue the ancient way" (which I will discuss in the following paragraphs)...[is to] "learn to practice peace, joy, self-mastery, and justice: because the future of the world depends on people like you and me finding it and living it and inviting others to join us. ... Maybe 'the world will be as one'" (p. 201). Make no mistake, McLaren provides compelling reasons throughout the book why it is beneficial to practice various spiritual disciplines. The result of his message, however, is not Christ-centered, but man-. His goal is world peace, not truth. Sadly, he mixes historical spritual disciplines with an ancient "new age" philosophy called "the threefold path."

    His main thrust for writing the book is found in chapters 15 through 18. "Practicing the Ancient Way" (chapter 15) serves as the introduction and outline to the "threefold way" of the ancients, which follows in chapters 16 ("Katharsis: Via Purgativa"), 17 ("Fotosis: Via Illuminativa"), and 18 ("Theosis: Via Unitiva"). I will detail the "threefold way" now.

    MCLAREN'S "THREEFOLD WAY": Note: the following descriptions by McLaren are presented as an imaginary tour, guided by a woman called an "abbess". While not a "spirit guide", she serves as an ancient guide into the spiritual way. The dictionary describes an abbess as "a woman who is the superior in a covenant of nuns."

    "Katharsis: Via Purgativa"(pp.151-158) is described by the abbess in McLaren's book as the beginning of the threefold way by "purging the house of the trash, dirt, and virmin that have accumulated within it." Katharsis "depends on letting light come in, because without light you won't be able to see what's dirty and wha

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  • Posted January 13, 2011

    Blah!

    Recently I received a copy of Finding Our Way Again: the Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren and Phyllis Tickle. The book starts out as any self-help book stating the problem with what is going on or what possible things you may be doing wrong. It then goes on to talk of how it can be changed. As an introductory book it did nothing but let me know not to read the other books in the series.
    This book is nothing less than a mundane toss into the black pit of hopeless inspirational books. The author constantly compares Christianity to its sister religions Islam and Judaism instead of showing people how God can be as effective as Buddha in bringing peace and tranquility to a home. Personal stories run rampant in these pages taking up good portions of the chapters instead of ways God can work in a 'sexy spiritual' world. Brian McLaren calls for a revival of ancient practices which cast a pale light on the 'drab' religion that this book is supposed to be casting a new light on. Working as a notebook of sorts, I don't recommend this book to anyone. The others may be good, or they may not be but this book makes it hard to want to review them.

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  • Posted January 7, 2011

    A Great Primer for Spiritual Disciplines

    Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren is the first book of The Ancient Practices series put together by Phyllis Tickle. McLaren's introductory work to the series tells why the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Islam and Christianity) need to reconnect with the ancient practices of the faith in order to be meaningful again. Fasting, Daily Prayers, Sabbath, Tithing, Eucharist, Piligrimage and following the Liturgical Year are all important practices that have been neglected for years by many Christians.

    While each of those practices gets a separate book dedicated to it, McLaren touches on each of them and shows how they can enhance our lives and our faith. I appreciate McLaren's illustrations that draw the reader in to make his points more real. If you have little to no experience with any of the ancient practices of our faith (that are still important to day), check out this book and the others in the series-at least to explore the reasons for their practice.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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  • Posted December 31, 2010

    A fresh look at spiritual formation & ancient practices.

    Over the past several years, the topic of spiritual formation and spiritual practices (or disciplines) have begun to get more and more air-time. A number of books deal with the ideal of being conformed into the image of Christ, while others leverage into to the practices themselves. No single volume could possibly begin to even scratch the surface. Thomas Nelson Publishing, in this series Ancient Practices Series, allot space and time to deal more comprehensively with not only the premise behind engaging spiritual practices, but also looking more in depth at seven of these ancient practices (fixed-hour prayer, fasting, sabbath, the sacred meal, pilgrimage, observance of sacred seasons and giving). In the first volume, Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices, Brain McLaren begins to masterfully approach the role of spiritual practices within the process of one's personal transformation with fresh perspective. If you're new to the subject of engaging spiritual practices/disciplines, this book offers a great introduction. If you've read the classics such as Celebration of Discipline, Spirit of the Disciplines, The Life You've Always Wanted, etc, this book offers much more than a mere rehashing of old rhetoric. I look forward to working through this entire series this upcoming year.

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    Posted January 30, 2011

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    Posted July 25, 2009

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    Posted May 9, 2011

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