Henri J.M. Nouwenwas a close friend of Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood fame. I recently read I’m Proud Of You which is a story about the friendship between Fred Rogers and the author. Mr. Rogers seem quite spiritual and I was intrigued to learn what an influence Nouwen was on Pittsburgh’s nicest guy so I bought two of his books.
The subtitle of this book actually caught my eye first; Spiritual Living in a Secular World. I would not consider myself a spiritual person and I know that I don’t live up to the standards of a Fred Rogers, but I have to wonder if I can do better. There is no doubt that we live in a secular world and I was looking for something in Nouwen’s writings.
Life of the Beloved did not really connect with me and Nouwen admits later in the book that he missed the mark. The book really is a guide for someone who is very spiritual and as I read back through the passages that I highlighted, I see that. Nouwen shared his manuscript with some friends before publishing the book and one of the comments hit home:
“You do not realize how far we are from where you are. You speak from a context and tradition that is alien to us, and your words are based on many presuppositions that we don’t share with you. You are not aware of how truly secular we are. Many, many questions need to be answered before we are able to be fully open to what you say about the life of the Beloved.”
I may have to save this one to read again when I am ready.