Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren (Thomas Nelson, 2008) offers an introduction and an apologia for the classic practices of the Christian faith. As the first volume in the Ancient Practices Series, McLaren sets the stage for the seven books that have followed, focusing on the ancient practices of fixed-hour prayer, fasting, Sabbath, the Eucharist, pilgrimage, the liturgical year, and giving (links are to my reviews of other volumes in the series). The book flows from the ‘big picture’ role of spiritual practices in the life of faith to practical discussions of the disciplines (distinguished within the categories of contemplative, communal, and missional practices) and closes by viewing the practices of faith through the three-fold Eastern/Monastic Christian lens of katharsis (purging/giving up), fotosis (finding new life), and theosis (growing in unity with Christ).
Reading Finding Our Way Again reminded me why I have enjoyed McLaren’s work so much over the years (and likely why some find his work so frustrating). His writing incorporates a great deal of honesty and self, in the form of personal reflections and through a poetic prose that acknowledges (and often celebrates) the difficulties and struggles of faith. While some readers may be troubled by the presentation of the spiritual practices as a shared element of the Abrahamic faith traditions or by the somewhat mystical approach to the disciplines offered in the closing chapters, there is a great deal of beautiful and helpful insight into the role of our practices on the journey of Christian faith. For anyone interested in exploring the spiritual disciplines individually or communally, Finding Our Way Again is a great place to start.
Note: A copy of this book was provided to me by Thomas Nelson for review.