The Englewood Review of Books
Best Books of 2020
Hardback: Waterbrook, 2020
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Americans in 2020 live in a milieu of shallow social interactions. Many of us uproot from our homes for college or work and live among people with whom we have no deep connection. Social media platforms grant us fragmented views into our peers’ lives, and algorithms herd us into polarized tribes. Screen addiction pulls us along cursory binges of information. These mediums encourage us to define our worth based on our appearance, professional accomplishments, or material possessions.
To put it another way, as Villodas does in The Deeply Formed Life, “we are always at risk of being shallowly formed.” But the book offers more than a theory or theological argument for spiritual deepness. It provides a practical guide for taking the deep dive—for rejecting a culture of shallowness in the context of everyday life.
Villodas urges Christians to incorporate more monasticism, or “contemplative rhythms,” into their daily habits. In contrast to megachurches that blast music, lights, and smoke at their parishioners, his own church incorporates stillness and silence into worship services, teaching congregants that in uneventful moments “God purifies us of the false god of good feelings.”
If you want to deepen your spiritual life, Villodas says, learn how to “normalize boredom” and sit in silence with God. Keep a sabbath. Put yourself close to the poor and vulnerable. And lean on the rich monastic practices of the church (like lectio divina, for example) to help you create consistent religious habits. “We are called,” he writes, “to be active contemplatives or contemplative activists, holding together the invitation to be and to do.”
– from the Christianity Today
review of this book written by Rebecca Toscano
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Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith
"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
-Karen Swallow Prior
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