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Seeking Aliveness: Daily Reflections on a New Way to Experience and Practice the Christian Faith

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Brian D. McLaren presents a 52-week devotional based on his book We Make The Road By Walking to inspire and activate readers in their spiritual journey. Brian D. McLaren shows everything you need to explore what a difference an honest, living, growing faith can make in your life and in our world today. Through 52 weeks of thoughtful readings, SEEKING ALIVENESS gives an over Brian D. McLaren presents a 52-week devotional based on his book We Make The Road By Walking to inspire and activate readers in their spiritual journey. Brian D. McLaren shows everything you need to explore what a difference an honest, living, growing faith can make in your life and in our world today. Through 52 weeks of thoughtful readings, SEEKING ALIVENESS gives an overview of the message of the whole Bible and guides you through a rich study, interactive learning, and personal growth.


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Brian D. McLaren presents a 52-week devotional based on his book We Make The Road By Walking to inspire and activate readers in their spiritual journey. Brian D. McLaren shows everything you need to explore what a difference an honest, living, growing faith can make in your life and in our world today. Through 52 weeks of thoughtful readings, SEEKING ALIVENESS gives an over Brian D. McLaren presents a 52-week devotional based on his book We Make The Road By Walking to inspire and activate readers in their spiritual journey. Brian D. McLaren shows everything you need to explore what a difference an honest, living, growing faith can make in your life and in our world today. Through 52 weeks of thoughtful readings, SEEKING ALIVENESS gives an overview of the message of the whole Bible and guides you through a rich study, interactive learning, and personal growth.

50 review for Seeking Aliveness: Daily Reflections on a New Way to Experience and Practice the Christian Faith

  1. 5 out of 5

    James

    It has been a while since I read a Brian McLaren book. I first discovered his writing in the heyday of Theooze( before it all cracked up and became the Hatchery). I read articles by McLaren and I soon got hold of his books, consuming them when I was More Ready Than [I] Realized. I dreamed of Finding Faith in the Church on the Other Side. And I devoured his A New Kind of Christian trilogy. Sure, it was contrived and stilted (like most didactic fiction), but it helped me think through some stuff. It has been a while since I read a Brian McLaren book. I first discovered his writing in the heyday of Theooze( before it all cracked up and became the Hatchery). I read articles by McLaren and I soon got hold of his books, consuming them when I was More Ready Than [I] Realized. I dreamed of Finding Faith in the Church on the Other Side. And I devoured his A New Kind of Christian trilogy. Sure, it was contrived and stilted (like most didactic fiction), but it helped me think through some stuff. I was bothered, even then, that the only prominent person of color in the Emergent Church Canon, was McLaren's fictionalized Jamaican High School teacher, Neo, though it would be years before I recognized this as the"Magical Negro" motif (i.e. Neo existed in the story to guide the white protagonist, Pastor Dan Poole, toward his Emergent self-actualization). And I read McLaren and Tony Campolo's Adventures in Missing the Point: How the Culture-Controlled Church Neutered the Gospel with a church small group. Each week, one of our small group members would give us her feminist critique of Campolo and McLaren's androcentric metaphors (e.g. the Culture-Controlled church was neutered, bastardized, and lacking virility). There were always things in his writing that I rolled my eyes at, but I learned a lot from McLaren (and I don't think he'd write any of these books quite the same way today). He named issues I had with the church, gave me a conceptual vocabulary to understand stuff, and got me asking good questions. He wasn't a perfect author, but I am grateful for what I learned from him. But at some point, I O.D.ed on his brand of Generous Orthodoxy and quit reading his books altogether. I didn't have a major reaction against him or anything. I just lost interest. Sometimes I would see his latest new release at the library, and bring it home, intent on digging in, only to return it weeks later unread (with maybe an 80¢ late fee). I still enjoyed reading an occasional online article by him or hearing his voice on some theology guy's podcast, but I only following his spiritual journey from afar. So I picked up Seeking Aliveness with both a sense of nostalgia and curiosity.  Based on his book We Make the Road By Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation (Jericho Books, 2014), Seeking Aliveness breaks that book's 52 chapters into daily readings—5 to 7 readings per week. So, this is a Christian devotional, but with slightly less Bible. McLaren lists 3-4 short passages at the start of each week, the daily entries are McLaren riffing on the weekly theme—our daily Brian, so to speak. Which isn't to say there is not some meaty stuff here and some solid biblical reflection. McLaren's musings cover the grand sweep of biblical narrative from Creation to New Creation, the liturgical calendar, theology and suggestions for living out our faith. Most of these reflections are rooted, one way or another, in the gospels and the life of Jesus. And McLaren invites readers to commit the key verses for each week to memory (ix). Each of the daily entries closes with an aphorism to ponder, a question, a prayer to pray or something to practice in daily life. The 52 chapters are divided into four sections. Part I is on being "alive in the story of Creation. Part II is about being "alive in the Adventure of Jesus." Part 3 is "alive in a global uprising" and Part 4 is "alive in the Spirit of God." The unifying metaphor of these reflections is 'aliveness,' which McLaren roots in the Christian story and the style of life Christ recommends: Aliveness, [Jesus] will teach, is a gift available to all by God's grace. It flows not from taking but from giving, not from fear but from faith, not from conflict but from reconciliation, not from domination but from service. It isn't found in the outward trappings of religion—rules, and rituals, controversies and scruples, temples and traditions. No, it springs up from our innermost being like a fountain of living water. It intoxicates us like the best win ever and so turns life from a disappointment into a banquet. This new life of aliveness and love opens us up to rethink everything—to go back and become like little children again. Then we can rediscover the world with a fresh, childlike wonder—seeing the world in a new light, the light of Christ (126). McLaren doesn't talk about how Jesus came to save us from eternal conscious torment once we die. Instead, he discusses Jesus'  reversal of the road we are already on, and our expectations, "Jesus used fire-and-brimstone language to warn his countrymen about the catastrophe they faced if they followed their current path—a wide and smooth highway leading to another violent uprising against the Romans. Violence won't produce peace, he warned, it will only lead to more destruction" (171). Jesus' non-violence and love stood in stark contrast to the violent tendencies in his, and our country. Salvation is not just about what happens at the end of space and time; it is in turning from destructive patterns and becoming fully alive. At times, this takes the narrow, rough path of 'non-violent social change.' Picking up on the values and activity of Jesus, God's purposes for Creation and the Spirit's movement, McLaren's retelling of the biblical story suggests ways to act justly—caring for Creation, solidarity with the poor, and being a peacemaker. McLaren can be somewhat of a polarizing figure. When I was preparing this review, I came across a couple of other reviews of the book. One person loved it, the next person thought that this was too New Age-y and liberal. My conservative friends don't appreciate how much McLaren (and the progressive evangelicalism he inspired) are willing to deconstruct ( Lifeway stopped selling McLaren's books before Lifeway not selling your books was cool). Other friends think McLaren's impact has been largely positive even if he doesn't quite go far enough. Personally, I enjoyed this book. I probably wouldn't use it as a devotional—I'm not a really great devotional reader—but the chapter titles and daily entries makes this a  searchable collection of bite-size Brian McLaren reflections on various topics. There are no footnotes (this is a devotional, not a textbook) or extraneous quotations from other authors. Just Brian and Bible talking about what it means to truly be alive. I give this four stars. ★★★★ Notice of material connection: I received a copy of this book from FaithWords in exchange for my honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    Let me start by stating that Seeking Aliveness: Daily Reflections On A New Way To Experience And Practice The Christian Faith by Brian D. McLaren was not at all what I was anticipating when I requested this book for review, and thus took me a lot longer to wade through than expected. This book is a labelled as being a 52-week devotional based on Brian D. McLaren's book We Make The Road By Walking. Being unfamiliar with both the author and his previous works, I based my interest on the back cover, Let me start by stating that Seeking Aliveness: Daily Reflections On A New Way To Experience And Practice The Christian Faith by Brian D. McLaren was not at all what I was anticipating when I requested this book for review, and thus took me a lot longer to wade through than expected. This book is a labelled as being a 52-week devotional based on Brian D. McLaren's book We Make The Road By Walking. Being unfamiliar with both the author and his previous works, I based my interest on the back cover, which states that "If you're a seeker exploring Christianity, if you're a long-term believer feeling disheartened, if your faith seems to be a lot of talk without much practice, here you'll find a fresh and healthy reorientation." Basically, the book is separated into 52-weeks with 5-7 readings per week and a question or thought to ponder for each reading. Starting with Genesis and working its way through to the book of Revelation, each week focuses on a different story of theme from the Bible while helping the reader relate that story to modern times. So far, so good. However, in emphasizing the point that these are merely stories, Brian asks the reader (time and time again) to ponder if the Biblical events actually happened or if they are just tales passed down by storytellers designed to make us think about specific issues, kind of like the parables that Jesus told. While I can see this as maybe being helpful to the skeptic or to a follower of a different religion who is seeking to learn about Christianity, I had a very hard time with concept of relating to the Old Testament stories (Moses, Noah, Elisha, etc.) as being on the same levels as the parables - people and events that didn't necessarily exist, were probably exaggerated and built up over the ages (if they were factually based to begin with), and are there more or less just to show us how to relate their lessons in our modern times. I also found Brian's seemingly political motives when referencing modern cultures to be exhausting. As for who I would recommend this book to, that's a hard one. The people I've known that believe in a metaphysical interpretation of the Bible would probably be able to relate better to most of the readings than I can. And as stated previously, those who are non-believers or skeptics and want to learn what makes the Christian's stories and interpretation different from their own might find something here worth learning. But I would not recommend it for most of the people I know that are currently on a Christian walk. 2/5 stars. *Disclaimer: I received a complimentary print copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*

  3. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    Based on McClaren's book "We Make The Road By Walking" this is a set of daily readings that explore the topic of "aliveness". It is organised into 52 weeks each containing 5-7 readings. Each week starts with a selection of Bible passages relevant to that week's topic and each day's reading ends with a question to ponder or an action to consider. As not all weeks contain 7 days' reading, and as I read something every day, I have finished before the end of the year! At the start of the book, the Bi Based on McClaren's book "We Make The Road By Walking" this is a set of daily readings that explore the topic of "aliveness". It is organised into 52 weeks each containing 5-7 readings. Each week starts with a selection of Bible passages relevant to that week's topic and each day's reading ends with a question to ponder or an action to consider. As not all weeks contain 7 days' reading, and as I read something every day, I have finished before the end of the year! At the start of the book, the Bible readings and the daily readings tend to be short. As the year progresses, the Bible readings get longer and some of the daily readings take more time to explore that week's topic. Having been brought up in a mixture of Baptist and Pentecostal churches and being now a member of the congregation in a Church of England church, I find McClaren's approach to the Bible challenging. He is not everyone's cup of tea. If you read reviews of his books, you will find people at almost every point on the spectrum between "inspirational" to "heretical". For me, I like my thinking to be challenged and I'm nowhere near brave enough to think that I have anything definitively right. I've been a Christian for about 50 years, often in church leadership roles, so I have spent a lot of time working out what I believe, but I have reached a point where I hold it all quite lightly. I know what I think, but I am not tied to it. So, McClaren's approach gives me pause for thought. I've read one other book by him and it is clear that he sees the Bible as a developing story rather than as a set of absolute truths. That's not my upbringing, but it is the direction I have been heading for the last 10 years or so. I would not advise reading this if you are after a "standard" daily devotional. It does not cover most of what you would expect to see. It is not strong on the core doctrines such as the cross, atonement, the divinity of Jesus. Each week riffs on a theme rather than exploring Scripture, and this means it often heads into political areas. It is however, strong on how to live in today's world. I guess it would be classed as a "liberal" interpretation of the Bible with a strong emphasis on man and on ethics. It presents an attractive way to put the doctrines of Christianity into daily practice, but it perhaps ignores some of the key building blocks of that faith.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bobbie

    This is a devotional book, but it's really more than that. McLaren's writing and ideas are deeply philosophical. For the sake of giving a review, I read it straight through. But this is a book I will be referring to, and reading parts from over and over, not just one time. McLaren and I share similar views about faith. Faith to me is more than just religious rituals and tradition, it entails spirituality and a personal relationship with my Higher Power which to me is the triune God- Father, Son, This is a devotional book, but it's really more than that. McLaren's writing and ideas are deeply philosophical. For the sake of giving a review, I read it straight through. But this is a book I will be referring to, and reading parts from over and over, not just one time. McLaren and I share similar views about faith. Faith to me is more than just religious rituals and tradition, it entails spirituality and a personal relationship with my Higher Power which to me is the triune God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I think my views agree with McLaren's, as he puts it: The unifying metaphor of these reflections is 'aliveness,' which McLaren roots in the Christian story and the style of life Christ recommends: Aliveness, [Jesus] will teach, is a gift available to all by God's grace. It flows not from taking but from giving, not from fear but from faith, not from conflict but from reconciliation, not from domination but from service. It isn't found in the outward trappings of religion—rules, and rituals, controversies and scruples, temples and traditions. No, it springs up from our innermost being like a fountain of living water. It intoxicates us like the best win ever and so turns life from a disappointment into a banquet. This new life of aliveness and love opens us up to rethink everything—to go back and become like little children again. Then we can rediscover the world with a fresh, childlike wonder—seeing the world in a new light, the light of Christ (126). I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading more of McLaren's works. Check it out for a deep, meditative read. *Disclaimer: I received a complimentary print copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ayekah

    I love Brian McLaren and wanted to take my time going through this book. This book is a devotional split into sections and I found what worked for me what just choosing a section to read through, not necessarily in order. It's set a reading for each day and grouped by the week. I can't tell you how much I loved it. It's always a little better with Brian's twist to it and there are questions now and then and thoughts to consider for that day. It's an absolute must have. It is intelligent, relevant I love Brian McLaren and wanted to take my time going through this book. This book is a devotional split into sections and I found what worked for me what just choosing a section to read through, not necessarily in order. It's set a reading for each day and grouped by the week. I can't tell you how much I loved it. It's always a little better with Brian's twist to it and there are questions now and then and thoughts to consider for that day. It's an absolute must have. It is intelligent, relevant and still keeping within his style of making the reader think outside the box. This book would work for group or family study as well as individual. Hands down 5 stars **arc from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair review**

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was a great daily devotion companion. Lots of thoughtful observations in the daily reflections.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Holloway

    Awesome devotional.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jim Worthen

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erik

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jill McCreight

  12. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Hansen

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  14. 4 out of 5

    Donna Carey

  15. 4 out of 5

    Trip Vodenicker

  16. 4 out of 5

    Helen

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tim Dann

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mimi Raper

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mark Taylor

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey Cunningham

  21. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Hammelef

  22. 5 out of 5

    Liz

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

  24. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

  25. 4 out of 5

    Melly Mel

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kristi

  27. 5 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  28. 4 out of 5

    Loraine Hunziker

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ireon Williams

  30. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

  31. 4 out of 5

    Carol McFarlane

  32. 4 out of 5

    Wanda C

  33. 4 out of 5

    Dianne

  34. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Muscat

  35. 5 out of 5

    Karen Thompson

  36. 5 out of 5

    James

  37. 5 out of 5

    Rosamaria Noel

  38. 5 out of 5

    Pam Mooney

  39. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  40. 5 out of 5

    Shelley

  41. 4 out of 5

    Nikky44

  42. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

  43. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

  44. 5 out of 5

    Tammy Hornbeck

  45. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

  46. 5 out of 5

    Debee Sue

  47. 4 out of 5

    Vinita

  48. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

  49. 5 out of 5

    Rorolulu

  50. 5 out of 5

    Vitus Liske

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