Naked Spirituality by Brian McLaren – A Review by Bill Dahl


McLaren, Brian Naked Spirituality – A Life With God in 12 Simple Words HarperOne – an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers New York, NY. Copyright © 2011 by Brian D. McLaren.

By Bill Dahl

Beyond Beautiful – or – It’s Wednesday – But Sunday’s A Comin’

Theologian Stanley Hauerwas has said, “Theology is not best understood as a system — narrative might have something to do with theology.”[i] Narrative is fine Stanley – but I’d like some tools that have practical application to my life, and those around me, as a person of faith. I’d also like some boots on the ground authenticity from the real life experiences of a fellow sojourner.

Enter Brian McLaren – Naked Spirituality – A Life With God in 12 Simple Words. Here’s the honest truth about the impact this book had on my life:

I had just finished Chapter 20 “Why – When You Have Come to Zero.” My wife arrived home from work. She began to prepare dinner and I wandered into the kitchen to catch up together on the day’s events – an uneventful Wednesday.

As we stood there chatting, the phone rang. It was our daughter Liz calling from her home in Utah. Liz and her fiancée Aaron had buried Aaron’s mother on Monday – just two days ago. They had just received a phone call – Aaron’s father had been killed in a car crash.

We concluded the tearful call with our daughter. I went into another room and sat silently – questions, remorse, sorrow, anger, dismay, confusion – ricocheting throughout my being. We ate half our dinner and adjourned to a couch. Jacki looked at me – sorrow and befuddled are two words that were embossed on her facial expression. We were both at zero – in shock – wounded – naked and fully exposed to the unconscionable in life. I leaned forward, grabbed my reading glasses and Brian’s book. I turned to the first page of Chapter 20 and read the chapter aloud to my wife.

I looked up and closed the book. “Beautiful?” I remarked, gazing at my wife. – “Beyond Beautiful,” she replied – as restorative waves of soothing, healing truth rolled through our souls.

In Naked Spirituality – A Life With God in 12 Simple Words Brian McLaren gets real with God, with life, the seasons inherent within human existence – sharing his boots on the ground experience as a fellow sojourner. Another formulaic, step-by-step, overly simplistic, bogus promise-laden landmine from an over-caffeinated evangelical Christian? Not Hardly.

At this stage in life, I need to learn from the experience of others…others who live in my world…the real world – the world of faith that Brian McLaren lives in. I’m worn out on opinions, perspectives and narrative nonsense of people trying to sell books – suggesting that “if you do this, you’ll be fine.”

In this book, Brian shares his own personal life lessons that are raw, real and uncut. McLaren’s dance with language provides hues of color that I had overlooked in the life of. He provides vistas and vantage points where the reader can stand side-by-side with him gazing beyond what we are presently able to visualize. There’s no artificial ingredients in the flavors McLaren serves up.

Take a seat with Brian McLaren – at his table – The table of life with the living God. Enjoy the feast that Naked Spirituality provides – one course at a time. Savor the tender, succulent, mysterious seasonings contained in each course: Here, Thanks, O, Sorry, Help, Please, When, No, Why, Behold, Yes and Silence.

No, this is not another fast-food systematic theology or another bland narrative. For us, Naked Spirituality is a unique and nutritious innovation from Brian McLaren – as he continues to evolve his craft in delivering fare for the faithful. There’s one thing that separates Brian from the rest of the authors in faith and culture – he has eaten his own stuff before he allows anybody else to sample it in print. He readily identifies the faith dishes he has dined on, admits the tastes he has worn out, the spices that have turned out to be bland, the sinew of life he has choked on – the wards of people he has encountered, hospitalized after being poisoned with the fare of faith served up with a seal of God attached to it.

“Beautiful?” – “Yes – Beyond Beautiful.”

For us, this book was, and shall be, both a timely and enduring blessing. For us, it was It’s Wednesday – But Sunday’s a Comin’.

Forgive me Tony – Thank you Brian!

Please pray for our daughter Liz, son-in-law Aaron and their daughter Rebekka.

This book is precious – so is life – so is the privilege of relationship with the living God – here – today – in any and all circumstances – even when you’re at zero….or not.

NOTES


[i] Hauerwas, Stanley Hannah’s Child – A Theologian’s Memoir, Wm. B. Eerdsman Publishing Co. Grand Rapids, MI, Cambridge, U.K. Copyright © 2010 by Stanley Hauerwas, p.63. —- Please don’t misinterpret my quote from Dr. Hauerwas. His life, and the book from which this quote is excerpted – are distinctly admired by me – and many others.

You can reach Bill Dahl at http://www.BillDahl.net or http://www.ThePorpoiseDivingLife.com

About The Reviewer – Bill Dahl

Bill Dahl is a creative thinker, freelance writer, and social observer/commentator. He is an ongoing contributor to the dialog in the faith and culture, economics and creative thinking arenas. He has been characterized as a gifted story teller.

Post to Twitter