Dallas Willard Center Book and Research Award Finalist
Hearts Minds Bookstore's Best Books of 2015, Spirituality and the Devotional Life
"This is a book written specifically for those of us who are assigned the task of developing an imagination for living the Christian faith with insight and skill in and for a society that is disconnected from the biblical revelation and the Jesus incarnation," writes Eugene Peterson in the foreword of The Cultivated Life. "But it is equally useful for all of us who are committed to following Jesus with our families and coworkers and neighbors."
Sociology professor and spiritual director Susan Phillips walks us through the "circus" of our cultural landscape to invite us into a cultivated life of spirituality. If we want to accept the invitation to return to the garden, then we must face down the temptation to live life as spectators of the circus that plays on around us. We want to be rooted and grounded in Christ, but are pushed toward constant work, alternating between performance and spectacle. Cultivation requires a kind of attentiveness that is countercultural to our age of distraction.
These pages unfold the spiritual practices that can lead us into a new and delightful way of living. Are you ready to leave the circus?
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About the Author
Susan S. Phillips (PhD, University of California, Berkeley) is executive director and professor of sociology and Christianity at New College Berkeley, where she previously served as academic dean. She is a sociologist and trained spiritual director who also serves as supervisor for spiritual directors and consultant for Christian organizations. Drawing insight from the diverse fields of the social sciences, biblical spirituality and practical theology, Phillips has authored books such as the award-winning The Crisis of Care: Affirming and Restoring Caring Practices in the Helping Professions and Candlelight: Illuminating the Art of Spiritual Direction. In addition to lecturing internationally and leading retreats for churches and organizations, Phillips also teaches at Regent College (Canada), Fuller Theological Seminary and the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction program at San Francisco Theological Seminary. She sits on the editorial boards of Radix and Presence magazines and the journal Reflective Practice. Along with her husband Steve, she has two sons and worships at First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, where she has served as an elder.
Peterson, now retired, was for many years James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also served as founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. In addition to his widely acclaimed paraphrase of the Bible, The Message (NavPress), he has written many other books.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Eugene Peterson Introduction: Leaving the Circus 1. The Way of Cultivation 2. Finding and Receiving Refreshment 3. Listening as a Way of Receiving Cultivation 4. Stopping 5. Sabbath Keeping 6. Cultivating Attention 7. Praying with Scripture 8. Cultivating Attachment 9. Spiritual Direction 10. Rooted and Grounded by Friendship 11. Practicing Friendship 12. Bearing Fruit and Enriching the Soil Conclusion: Living toward Completion Acknowledgments Appendix: Guidelines for Practices Index of Names and Subjects About the Author
What People are Saying About This
"The Cultivated Life is filled with gifts of a generous, transparent spirit. Reading this insightful book and reflecting on its profound questions invite us to taste the life Susan Phillips lives. . . . When I reached the end of The Cultivated Life I returned to the beginning to soak in the words, insights and prayers that arose. Thank you, Susan, for giving us a glimpse of wholeness by offering gifts of spiritual direction through your writing."
"Susan Phillips's The Cultivated Life is a remarkable work on so many levels. Her insightful and sophisticated analysis is able to synthesize both the theoretical and practical in profound and compelling ways. Her skills as a creative theologian and biblical interpreter, a wise and insightful spiritual director, and one grounded in the common-sense particularities and complexities of human experience and history makes her work an extraordinary contribution in so many arenas of pastoral and theological practice. The breadth of her sources and insights—from literature, psychology, philosophy, theology, ecumenical and religious history, and personal history, among others—make this a must-read for scholars, students and practitioners alike. Phillips's style is accessible, engaging and invitational. . . . I recommend Susan Phillips's book with great enthusiasm for all audiences—for all who are searching."
"The most basic human question in daily living is not so much 'what?' but 'how?' Just check the magazine covers in the check-out line. Articles promise to tell us how to lose weight, how to get rich, how to be sexy. But what if you've lived enough to know that life is about more than health, wealth and a good time? This is a book for people who are interested in the how of a life that's really life. Would that it could be front-and-center in every check-out line."
"The Cultivated Life reads like the cool evening breeze at the end of a blazing hot day in the desert. . . . It is also a prophetic clarion call—a warning to a generation trapped in the meaningless rat-race of twenty-first-century existence, suffocated by the demands of addictive consumerism, obsessed with the lifeless toys of modernity, while the breath of heaven who is only a prayer away eagerly waits to share with us the real joys of living. This book is a timely gift to the community of faith to be treasured and shared. More than that, this is essential survival reading for every true pilgrim seeking after the pearl of great price."
"Susan Phillips can write this book because she lives it. For three decades and more, I have observed the choices she makes to cultivate life and this has been the hallmark of her story. This book is a deep and magnanimous invitation to live in such a way that the flourishing for which we are made can become our experience. Let the grounded welcome she extends and encourages lead us through the circus towards life itself."
"Susan Phillips tells great stories and uses vivid word pictures. Her contrast between circus and garden reveals deep truths about the overstimulation in our daily lives and Jesus' invitation to cultivate a restful and focused life rooted in him. Cultivation implies habits and discipline, and Susan winsomely invites us into new patterns of living. A garden implies lush green leaves and fruitful bounty, and Susan guides our paths into joy and rest. Come into the garden with Jesus and journey into abundant life."