“Naked Spirituality” by Brian McLaren
When I reflect back on my spiritual journey, his words and works couple have often marked milestones or transformative moments. With his gentle spirit and meek words, especially amidst the maelstrom of insults, accusations and libel tossed his way, I have grown to appreciate the man, as well. His works have met me at important points in my life and they continue to today. Time and again, McLaren has proven to speak to the heart of issues, simplify areas of complexity, and making complex that which we once thought simple and “Naked Spirituality” does it as well.
I think McLaren’s work could be typified as religious / social / political commentary a good deal of the time. “A New Kind of Christianity,” “Generous Orthodoxy,” and “The Secret Message of Jesus” were very clear critiques (or evaluations or whatever you’d like to call it) of modern Christianity. In a very English-professor like manner, McLaren addresses each fallacy or difficulty and provides a thesis, body, and conclusion to his arguments (and it’s done well in my opinion).
And this is another area in which he simplifies something that has been thought of as complex: spiritual discipline. Throughout history and even today, those that are “spiritual disciplined” are thought to be special: monks, priests, that one person in your congregation who you know prays, meditates and participates in all of the tradition of Christianity. In addition to being unattainable unless you’re “special.” the practice of spiritual discipline (to me at least) was always unappealing. If being “disciplined” required monastic living, it was not for me.
What McLaren does to the anxious and / or skeptic (like myself) is he provides simple, attainable practices to “remain awake to God and aliveness.”
My plan is to couple further analysis of this book with Marcus Borg’s “Heart of Christianity.” I’ll try and post something in the upcoming week(s).