Dare to imagine a new birth from deep within Christianity, a fresh stirring of the Spirit.
"The walls of Western Christianity are collapsing. In many parts of the West that collapse can only be described as seismic.... There are three main responses or reactions to this collapse. The first is to deny that it is happening. The second is to frantically try to shore up the foundations of the old thing. The third, which I invite us into, is to ask what is trying to be born that requires a radical reorientation of our vision. What is the new thing that is trying to emerge from deep within us and from deep within the collective soul of Christianity?"
—from the Introduction
In the midst of dramatic changes in Western Christianity, internationally respected spiritual leader, peacemaker and scholar John Philip Newell offers the hope of a fresh stirring of the Spirit among us. He invites us to be part of a new holy birth of sacred living. Speaking directly to the heart of Christians—those within the well-defined bounds of Christian practice and those on the disenchanted edges—as well as to the faithful and seekers of other traditions, he explores eight major features of a new birthing of Christianity:
Coming back into relationship with the Earth as sacred
Reconnecting with compassion as the ground of true relationship
Celebrating the Light that is at the heart of all life
Reverencing the wisdom of other religious traditions
Rediscovering spiritual practice as the basis for transformation
Living the way of nonviolence among nations
Looking to the unconscious as the wellspring of new vision
Following love as the seed-force of new birth in our lives and world
In this insightful and illuminating work, Newell (Listening for the Heartbeat of God) explores chapter by chapter themes of connecting (with the earth, compassion, light, journey, spiritual practice, nonviolence, unconscious, love) in order to reclaim Christianity's understanding of being "born anew" and of resurrection. Drawing from his experience with the Iona community in Scotland, as well as other spiritual sites, such as Taize in France, Newell offers illustrations from his ministry, family life, and dreams to " ourselves to dream the Christian story onward." He gleans wisdom from a diverse group of spiritual practitioners from Columba and Julian of Norwich to Thomas Berry and Aung San Suu Kyi, as well as from numerous faith traditions, contending that "bringing our heart into union with the heart of the other is the basis of true freedom." Asserting that "ompassionate action is sustained by the courage to feel," Newell's work carries practical implications, as he argues that clergy need as much training in spiritual practices such as contemplative prayer, as in beliefs. This accessible and thought-provoking book has much to offer pilgrims on all stages of the spiritual journey.