So many people love a good book full of daily devotional thoughts based on a scripture from the Bible.
I, on the other hand, am slow and careful about recommending them.
I’m not “anti devotional books,” I have nothing against books of meditations, I simply think we do best by giving our attention directly to the Bible rather than the writing of a person doing that for us. Still, I have used books of daily meditations myself, and have been “blessed” by them; the key is not give such books the time and place we give the Bible itself, which too many people do.
With that said, I looked forward to reviewing “You Are the Beloved: Daily Meditations for Spiritual Living” by Henri J.M. Nouwen (published by Convergent Books) just because of who the author was.
Who was Henri J.M. Nouwen? The book jacket actually provides a concise answer to that:
“Henri J.M. Nouwen was a Dutch-born Catholic priest, professor, and pastor, who gained international renown as the author of over thirty books on the spiritual life … Since his death in 1996, ever-increasing numbers of readers, writers, teachers, and seekers have been guided by his beautiful, challenging, and life-changing insights on the spiritual life.”
I’m one of those people who have appreciated some of Nouwen’s writing, so again, I looked forward to reviewing this book. Here’s my direct result: I can recommend the book for reading, but not as a book for daily meditations, which is the type of book this is supposed to be.
Let me explain.
I can recommend the book, generally, because sprinkled throughout its pages are some stirring insights and valuable nuggets about the Christian life. I routinely found that I have some basic theological differences with the writer, but also share much in common about living for Jesus, and greatly appreciated some of the deeper thoughts that I found to be inspiring or challenging.
I cannot recommend this book as a book of daily meditations because none of the daily meditations are based directly on any Bible scripture. You’ll not find scripture references throughout the book. Instead, each daily meditation is a short snippet from Nouwen’s previous writings, something taken from the more than 30 books he had written on the spiritual life. While the insights are worth reading, they are not are a direct exposition of scripture, and if something is going to be a daily meditation for a Christian, I believe it’s essential that biblical scripture be the source on which that meditation is based. Otherwise, you’re simply meditating on a human being’s thoughts.
So yes, I find “You Are the Beloved” a book worthy of a Christian giving their time to read, but not reliable for daily meditations.
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”