Befriending Life, edited by Beth Porter, with Susan Brown and Philip Coulter

His primary expectation was that you keep your heart open to life," writes Fred Bratman of his friend Henri Nouwen. That Bratman, who is a marketing executive at a New York investment bank and Jewish,  is one of the 47 contributors to this expansive and diverse collection shows something of the range of the Roman Catholic Nouwen's spiritual influence.

Peter Naus, a fellow Dutch academic who followed Nouwen to America, provides background on Nouwen's life.  Early on, Nouwen was envied by his compatriots for standing out. He was hesitant to criticize the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, and his spirituality was considered overly simplistic and pious. Although he wrote much about downward mobility, he was--especially in his early years--quite a self seeker. In time, he learned to understand his own flaws and vulnerabilities and sought to live with them constructively and creatively.

 

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