Book Review: Falling Upward

Hello again friends!

I just wrapped up the first book from my summer reading list, so I thought I'd share a few thoughts on it here at the J-Blog.

Falling Upward is a challenging book from Richard Rohr. It may have been particularly challenging for me because this is a book all about how to live the second half of life, which is still probably a little ways off for me. But all the same, there were some beautiful and inspiring sections to the book, and I think some great things to think about even as a young person.

One of the thoughts that I appreciated was the notion that a spirituality could actually mature and grow. I think too often we think of our spirituality as a static collection of views or opinions. Rohr points out that as a faith grows, it typically becomes more open and more inclusive in it's thinking, rather than exclusive and "gated". How could this not ring true to the followers of Jesus, who spent his time inviting the very people most thought were on the outside fringes of faith into his inner circle? It makes all the sense in the world to me.

Rohr also spends a small section of the book dealing with Heaven and Hell. Like Rob Bell, he speaks about heaven and hell in ways that make a tremendous amount of sense to me and to many other Christians. "No one is in heaven unless he or she wants to be, and all are in heaven as soon as they live in union. Everyone is in heaven when he or she has plenty of room for communion and no need for exclusion." (Page 119, or at least that's what page my iPad gives for it) This fascinates me that so many people are up in arms over Rob's position, while other Christian leaders have been saying the same sorts of things for quite a long time (Rohr, and most notably in my mind, C.S. Lewis). But, again, that book review is coming.

The central theme of the book resonates for me as well. The idea that our failures and fallings are actually where God does some of his best work in terms of growing us and maturing us is something that I've been working through a lot lately. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says "My grace is sufficient for you, and my power is made perfect in weakness." When we fall, fail, screw up, and get egg on our face, God is right there beside us to show us exactly how powerful his grace really is.

This is an amazing book, though very deep and not the easiest read. I very much recommend it to anyone, but particularly to older readers who are trying to make sense of life in the second half.

Catch ya later!



France said...

I must admit I was a bit put off of this book when I first started. Rohr is a Catholic priest and it took a while for me to sink into his vocabulary and understand how he was using his words. After I picked it up again a week or so later. I started to see a spirituality that was formed by story in a way somewhat akin to Donald Miller. The 30 page intro is rough going no matter how you look at it. But once you get to the early chapters where Rohr uses the story of Odyssius to explain his point I was hooked.

The key insight is that the modern world tricks us into thinking growth (and meaning) is a straight line. Rohr, who has also written about spriritual direction, male initiation rites, mystic spirituality and other topics, seems well prepared for a book about maturity. This book is not so much about aging as it is about learning how to see our own growth and life as a journey and not a particular destination.