Becoming Fully Alive and Deeply Human
By David G. Benner
Spirituality has an indispensable role to play in the expression of our humanity. However, spiritual practices can sometimes make us less, not more, authentically human. We may be good Christians, but we aren't good human beings. How can we ensure that our spiritual journey is conducted in a way that allows us to become fully alive and deeply human?
David Benner has spent thirty-five years integrating psychology and spirituality. Here he presents an expansive, psychologically informed understanding of spirituality, probing the contrasts between soulful and soulless spirituality, deep and shallow religion, and healthy and unhealthy relationships with God to affirm the vital role of human development in the spiritual journey. Benner then suggests soulful practices for cultivating the Christian spiritual life.
This book will appeal to readers seeking depth and substance in their quest for authentic spirituality. It will also be a helpful resource for mental health professionals and spiritual directors. Reflection questions and exercises for individual or group use are included at the end of each chapter.
"Soulful Spirituality is a feast of encouraging wisdom that nourishes soul and spirit. In inviting language, images, and narratives, David Benner describes a way of living that is integrating and inspiring—a hearty blend of psychology, theology, and spirituality for all of us who seek to mature and thrive."
—Susan S. Phillips, executive director and professor of sociology and Christianity, New College Berkeley; author, Candlelight: Illuminating the Art of Spiritual Direction
"Soulful Spirituality embodies the inseparable invitations of the spiritual and human journeys. Dr. Benner's writing is grounded in long years of research and practice at the intersections of human development, psychotherapy, and spiritual direction alongside his own desire to persist in becoming all that God intends. Soulful Spirituality stirs the reader's longing for connectedness, fulfillment, aliveness, and wholeness that is uniquely possible through intentional cooperation with God. Benner provides solid theological and developmental foundations for the practices he offers to support growth and deepening. Soulful Spirituality invites readers to embrace life as it is and to be open to God in the midst of ordinary/extraordinary reality. It is filled with possibilities that evoke pondering and prayer."
—Jeannette A. Bakke, author, Holy Invitations: Exploring Spiritual Direction
"I believe this will be David G. Benner's most important book. Some will find it controversial. But many more, I believe, will find it hope- and life-giving. Soulful Spirituality moves the reader beyond beliefs and practices to the discovery of the rich resources of an in-bodied Christian spirituality, resources for helping you become the unique and whole human being you were intended to be."
—Gary W. Moon, vice president and integration chair, Richmont Graduate University; author, Apprenticeship with Jesus
"Someone needed to write this book and I'm glad it was David Benner. His wise, incisive, and winsome style makes unsettling truth easier to receive and challenges to the status quo profoundly liberating."
—Ruth Haley Barton, founder, Transforming Center; author, Sacred Rhythms and Invitation to Solitude and Silence
"David's new book, Soulful Spirituality, needs to be read, dialogued with, and then used to overhaul our weak and anemic engagement with the real world. In a culture full of escape-this-world spiritualities on the one hand and narcissistic spiritualities on the other, David Benner says, 'absolutely not!' and then loudly and powerfully links our spirituality to the exciting lifelong task of becoming more fully and deeply human. David's identification of things like toxic spirituality will provide welcome hope to the growing number of people in 'religious recovery' who are on the spiritual and human journey but are simply worn out with the narrow approaches so common today. He has a deep commitment to us as embodied beings and as such helps us attend to an embodied spirituality. He gets at tough concepts like desire, longing, and restlessness, and few have dealt with the issue of ego, its role, and its limits as well as he does in this book. If you are ready to dig in, ready to really change and experience transformation, then by all means get this book. And then buy nine more copies to pass out to friends for a dialogue group! We need David Benner's stuff in our airspace. I am going to spread the word, and I hope you will too."
—Ron Martoia, author, speaker, and founder of velocityculture.com and ttTribe.com