Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life

Love, Henri: Letters on the Spiritual Life *****
by Henri M. Nouwen

Overview: Henri Nouwen, a Catholic priest, corresponded extensively throughout his life with a broad range of people. This book is a collection of letters on all different topics to all different people from 1973-1996. Before each letter is a brief explanation of the context of the letter and when and where he wrote it.

Positive elements: You feel like you can go back in time, sitting in an attic and reading through a box of random old letters. The letters have that unpolished, raw, personal touch unlike a biography or a book.

Negative elements: I didn't know much about Henri Nouwen's life. There is an introduction that tells some about his life, but the letters are so varied and random, that you don't get a cohesive picture of his life.

Conclusion: I am conflicted about this book. I did enjoy reading some of the letters, especially those about his time working with the mental and physically disabled. I loved this quote from page 149: "It is such a joy for me to know that you too have sensed the special gift that the handicapped people can offer to the Christian community. By revealing to us that being is more important than doing, the heart is more important than the mind and community is more important than individual stardom, they are truly messengers of the Gospel and witnesses to the Lord who became poor for us."

However, I felt overall that I didn't get to really know Henri due to how unorganized all the letters were. And you only read his responses to the letters so you don't get a full picture of things. There was also this confusing thread throughout of his conflicting homosexual desires. Some of the letters I just couldn't fully understand what was going on. I think I would have rather read one of his books.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.