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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.