Saturday, January 17, 2009

Book Review: “Spiritual Mentoring: A Guide for Seeking and Giving Direction” by Keith R. Anderson and Randy D. Reese. InterVarsity Press, 1999, 191 p.

Overview—Give a brief overview of the book, including its theme, perspective and approach.

"Spiritual Mentoring" offers the reader a guide to giving spiritual direction that is both contemplative/meditative and hands-on practical. Anderson and Reese draw from ancient guides (Augustine, Aelred of Rievaulx, John of the Cross, Julian of Norwich, Ignatius of Loyola, Teresa of Avila, and Madame Jeanne Guyon) as guides to the stages of spiritual direction: Attraction, Relationship, Responsiveness, Accountability, and Empowerment. Interspersed with first person mentoring accounts, "Spiritual Mentoring" not a history of spiritual direction but a field guide to contemporary practice.

Critique—Offer a brief critique of the book, including elements of strength and weakness.

I've got to say that "Spiritual Mentoring" was one of the best books I've read in a while. Talk of "making disciples" often runs the risk of a manufactured, cookie-cutter spirituality. Anderson and Reese take the best of historical traditions (yes, with specific exercises and disciplines) and weave sensitivity to the unique work of God in the individual "mentoree". The blending of ancient and contemporary voices in one very nicely presented compendium on spiritual direction is a definite strength! One the other hand, I was left wondering at some of the particular theological proclivities of the Ancients that may modern day protestant would find incompatible with a reformed world-view.

Application—Offer some specific application to your own ministry— demonstrating the value and relevance of the material in this book.

The chapter on "Developing Trust and Intimacy" was a challenge to become a person of transparency and vulnerability. The insights into essential functions for developing friendship and hospitality were probing and practical. Holy Listening, Holy Seeing, and Wholly Listening are ways to apply the truth that spirituality is learning to pay attention to the presence of God in everything. And the "questions for reflection" in every chapter were enough to fuel deep level conversations for hours.

Best Quote—Be sure to include the page number where the quote can be found.

p. 129 "On the sailboat, the disciplines necessary to catch the wind are never seen as onerous tasks or empty rituals of work unless one dislikes sailing or forgets the purposes of life on board the boat. The rituals of getting a boat ready to sail are the equivalent of the spiritual disciplines we will describe throughout this chapter – they are the practices necessary to catch the wind of the Holy Spirit. We excersize such disciplines to make it possible for the winds to blow into the sails of our lives."

1 comment:

Semen Rendi said...
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