“To Become More Fully Human”
A Review of
Two New Books on Christian Spirituality
Reviewed by Kevin Book Satterlee.
The Monastery of the Heart:
An Invitation to a Meaningful Life
Hardback: Bluebridge, 2011.
[ Amazon ]
Becoming Fully Alive
and Deeply Human
David G. Benner
Paperback: Brazos Press, 2011.
[ ChristianBook.com ]
[ Amazon – Kindle ]
Although Christianity has long been understood as by many as a set of doctrines confining people into a religion in which God and Jesus became life-depleting and discipleship was a soulless death, there has always been an undercurrent of life-giving, fulfilling Christian spirituality. Thomas Merton helped many Christians to reimagine a life-giving spiritual pursuit over doctrinal stuffiness. There are still many skeptics, but the publishing industry is pumping out new Christian spiritual books on a monthly basis. Spirituality is en vogue in pop culture, especially in Christian pop sub-culture, but many of the resources are valuable.
Sister Joan Chittister’s newest book, The Monastery of the Heart: An Invitation to a Meaningful Life, (BlueBridge) and David G. Benner’s book, Soulful Spirituality: Becoming Fully Alive and Deeply Human, (Brazos) are two new books for 2011 about life-giving and distinctly human spiritualities. Chittister is a Benedictine nun and writes from her half-century in the monastic life. Benner is a professor of psychology at Richmont Graduate University, whose work focuses on psychology and spirituality.
While the two books are about spirituality, they take very different approaches. Benner writes about the psychology of spirituality and the spirituality of psychology. He is a clinical therapist and applies the principles of spirituality to psychological health. He comes from a Christian background and writes with Christian influence, however his pluralism of spirituality also dramatically influences his writing. Chittister’s work, on the other hand, is a poetic commentary on St. Benedict’s monastic rule. She is thoroughly Christian in her approach.