In The Spiritual Way: Classic Traditions and Contemporary Practice, Philip Sheldrake aims to make the wisdom of Christian spirituality better known to contemporary readers.
After an introductory chapter on the foundations of Christian spirituality, Sheldrake describes its diverse riches through the centuries in terms of five distinctive types of Christian spiritual wisdom, illustrated by a rich selection of classical examples. The five types are "The Way of Discipline," "The Contemplative-Mystical Way," "The Way of Practical Action," "The Way of Beauty," and "The Prophetic Way."
This book also briefly explores the contemporary interest in spirituality within and beyond conventional religion and suggests how we might engage with these five types on our spiritual journeys in today's world.
"Philip Sheldrake brings to a too literal age the seer's gift for depth of insight, prophetic imagination, and the meaning of spiritual practice. The book will be a resource of value for teachers, practitioners, and writers for many years to come. Prepare yourself for a work of beauty and insight that reminds us that the Christian spiritual traditions are not lost. In fact, in Sheldrake's hands, traditions address contemporary questions and quests while remaining vibrant, animated, and alive."Steven Chase, PhD, Oblate School of Theology, Editor-in-Chief of Spiritus: Journal of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality "This is a must-read for anyone interested in spirituality! Sheldrake's historical exploration leads readers into an appreciation of spirituality as a multi-faceted diamond, which is not only a lived way of life and but also is a deep source of wisdom. Sheldrake invites us to interpret Christian spirituality through his lens of five ways/types; discipline, contemplation, action, beauty and prophesy. These five ways make accessible the larger historical contexts that are critical for understanding spirituality today and being able to pass it on to the future generations. After reading Sheldrake's book I wonder how we question our own assumptions about Christian spirituality, and what communities can make that possible."Laurie Cassidy, PhD, spiritual director and Christian social ethicist, faculty member of the Christian Spirituality Program, Creighton University "In The Spiritual Way Philip Sheldrake makes the riches of the history of Christian spirituality accessible. By identifying five `ways' or types of Christian spirituality, Sheldrake captures the complexities, particularities, and evolutions of this history, as well as its cohesion. Ecumenically conversant and sensitive to contemporary context, this work will be valuable for the classroom and for the general reader."Timothy H. Robinson, Lunger Associate Professor of Spiritual Resources and Disciplines, Brite Divinity School "Are you looking for a contemporary text to introduce a class or group to the world of spirituality? You have found it here with this work of Philip Sheldrake. A master of the field, Dr. Sheldrake draws from his vast exploration into this topic to gift us with a text that is readable, informative, and wise. Clarifying the distinctions between spirituality and theology, he deftly offers the reader the necessary insight on how they nevertheless must interact. He offers the reader five lenses or types of spirituality while showing how they often interrelate in the lives of real people. A gifted writer offering wisdom on a hot topic, this is a jewel of a book!"
Carla Mae Streeter, OP, Professor Emerita, Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis "Prompted by the question: `what might the classic wisdom of the Christian traditions have to offer those seeking spiritual meaning amidst the complexity and uncertainty of our post-modern world?' Philip Sheldrake has marshalled his vast knowledge of those classics to create a well-considered, thought-provoking, and remarkably accessible response. Each section brings vividly to life texts, figures, artistic creations, and practices that both uncover the depth and breadth of classic Christian spiritual wisdom and illuminate the manner in which these gems can access a depth of human consciousness seldom plumbed in postmodern society opening a pathway both social and ethical toward an transforming encounter with sacred transcendence."Wendy M. Wright, Professor Emerita of Theology, Creighton University "I found that, more than differentiating distinct categories, Sheldrake masterfully shows how various shades, hues, and textures of spirituality have existed throughout history and have both served and shaped our spiritual practices. This work would be a fine addition to any individual or communal study on spiritual movements."
Catholic Books Review "As a quick survey of an immense topic, Sheldrake's fine work would be especially valuable for the college coursework or group discussion in churches."
Catholic Library World "There is much to be commended about Sheldrake in The Spiritual Way. Though brief in looking at the multitude of movements and individuals who have contributed to Christian spirituality over the past 2000 years, the book's aim is to be a digestible compendium that can point the modern reader in the right direction and present Christianity as fundamentally relevant and progressive."