Our sermon series “Inside Out: Pursuing the Interior Life of Jesus,” comes to a close in a few weeks. So, I thought it might be helpful to identify some ongoing resources. For individuals who feel that further reading on the interior life of Jesus or how to become integrated themselves would be helpful, here are ten books that I would recommend. Many of them I have mentioned in the blog throughout this series, others are just excellent reads.
10. Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life, by Henri Nouwen is a short reflection on what it means to live a spiritual life in the current cultural context. Though it was published in 1981, it remains just as true (if not truer) to our secular context today. Nouwen writes, “Worrying has become such a part and parcel of our daily life that a life without worries seems not only impossible, but even undesirable…Our worries motivate us” (15). He delves deeply into what it looks like to live settled and worry-free, centered in a deeply rich spiritual life with Christ. Plus, for those with a short attention span, this is about an hour and a half read!
9. Celebration of Discipline, by Richard Foster, is a much better read than it sounds! Foster looks at twelve different spiritual “disciplines” that can help take us deeper in our walk with Jesus. The disciplines vary from fasting to worship. Much research and insight from the early Catholic church mothers and fathers on the interior life went into the making of this book. Foster offers refreshing practical advice and application for the challenges we face in living a spiritual life in a bustling world.
8. Lament for a Son, is anything but a fun read; but for those who have experienced tremendous grief or loss, it is a must-read. Nicholas Wolterstorff, is a brilliant professor of philosophy and theology, who has influenced thinkers all over the world. But beneath his professorial exterior lies a tender-hearted father who lost his son. Lament for a Son is as refreshingly honest as it is profound. Wolterstorff digs deep and calls the reader to dig deep as he practices lament through the art of writing.
7. A Hidden Wholeness, by Parker Palmer, might be the most pertinent book to this series. Palmer explores “the journey toward the inner life” in this short volume. He discusses the various facades that we wear in life and how to integrate our inner and outer lives through a deep-rooted spirituality. Palmer writes, “Afraid that our inner light will be extinguished or our inner darkness exposed, we hide our true identities from each other. In the process, we become separated from our own souls. We end up living divided lives” (4).
6. Meditation on Psalms is a compilation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s work edited and published posthumously by Edwin Robertson. While Bonhoeffer suffered tremendously for the sake of the Gospel, imprisoned by the Nazi’s in World War II, he maintained an undivided life reliant on Jesus and the high calling of scripture. Bonhoeffer wrote some more complex theological books as well, but this one is more of a spiritual reflection, dealing with the reality of war and testing of his faith. He was eventually martyred in the war.
5. The Problem of Pain, by C.S. Lewis, is his quintessential work on theodicy. He explores the question, “If God is good and all-powerful, why does he allow his creatures to suffer pain?” He answers this questions with philosophical and theological insights from the perspective of an atheist-become-believer. This is one of the books that influenced my post “Where is God in Our Suffering?”
4. Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading, is part of a five-part spiritual theology series developed by Eugene Peterson. He weaves almost textbook-like research into personal narrative flawlessly as he explores what it means to not only read the Scriptures, but to experience them in everyday life.
3. Wounded, by Terry Wardle looks at “how to find wholeness and inner healing in Christ.” Part personal narrative and part spiritual analysis, Wardle explores the depths of human emotion and what it means to incorporate Christ into the wounds of the past. This work aligns with Wardle’s Healing Care ministry.
2. The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery, by David Benner, explores the connection of knowing God and knowing yourself. Relying on psychological research and spiritual insights, Benner looks at Augustine’s ideology: “Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee.”
1. The Interior Castle, by St. Teresa of Avila, explores the interior life of a nun in the sixteenth century. St. Teresa is known for this work, among others, as well as her visions of Christ. Written from a Catholic framework, some of her material might be foreign to Protestant thinkers, but she still offers one way to pursue the interior life in Christ. Though she herself was crippled by guilt, she yet offers some beautiful images of pursuing life in Christ.
I would recommend any and all of these books if you are interested in further reading on this topic. Do you have any books you would recommend on this topic as well?