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We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation

Review

We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation

Brian McLaren is an author, speaker, activist and public theologian. A few of his books include WHY DID JESUS, MOSES, THE BUDDHA, AND MOHAMMED CROSS THE ROAD?, A New Kind of Christian trilogy, A GENEROUS ORTHODOXY and NAKED SPIRITUALITY. In his newest work, WE MAKE THE ROAD BY WALKING, McLaren paves the way for believers and seekers (not necessarily in that order) with a journey guidebook that is part interactive Bible study and part life manual to use over the course of one year.

Divided into 52 weekly readings, McLaren hopes readers will revisit in a fresh way old Bible stories and do so with an attitude that espouses a “daring reinterpretation of the biblical story” using read-aloud weekly readings that offer discussion questions, prayers, and other resources that will guide individuals and groups through a year of learning. This material is organized around the traditional church year of Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter and Pentecost.

"McLaren paves the way for believers and seekers (not necessarily in that order) with a journey guidebook that is part interactive Bible study and part life manual to use over the course of one year."

Opening his text, McLaren’s statement is fundamental to the content and message of the book: “The quest for aliveness is the best thing about religion, I think. It’s what we’re hoping for when we pray. It’s why we gather, celebrate, eat, abstain, attend, practice, sing, and contemplate. When people say, ‘I’m spiritual,’ what they mean, I think, is simple: ‘I’m seeking aliveness.’” Now, to be clear, how McLaren achieves this “aliveness” will differ according to who is reading the book. Some evangelical Christians will take issue with his offhanded references to the Big Bang Theory, the age of the world, how creation came to be, and whether or not the stories told in the Bible are just that: stories that make a point but did not literally happen. That said, McLaren is trying to appeal to the broadest audience of faith-minded individuals by using inclusive language and terms throughout.

He has divided the book into four parts: 1) Alive in the story of creation; 2) Alive in the adventure of Jesus; 3) Alive in a global uprising; and 4) Alive in the spirit of God. Each chapter begins with various recommended Bible readings followed by an exposition of the texts and the story found there. McLaren does a wonderful job presenting these biblical stories in a fresh and thought-provoking way that will aid readers in asking better questions about the lessons found there. Closing each chapter is the Engage section, where he poses questions relating to the material and asks readers to discuss their findings as well as take the process a few steps further by activating what they learned through life application. Then he leads individuals to meditate on what they’ve just learned and discovered.

McLaren also offers a special section of Liturgical Resources for groups to use and a “Five Guidelines for Learning Circles” outline as well. He has a lot to say about the life of faith, not all of which will be readily accepted. However, he does ask the important questions about life and faith. Readers, whether or not they are fans of McLaren, can find some fuel for their own journey in WE MAKE THE ROAD BY WALKING.

Reviewed by Michele Howe on July 17, 2014

We Make the Road by Walking: A Year-Long Quest for Spiritual Formation, Reorientation, and Activation
by Brian D. McLaren

  • Publication Date: June 10, 2014
  • Genres: Christian, Christian Life, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Jericho Books
  • ISBN-10: 1455514004
  • ISBN-13: 9781455514007