Falling Upward

Falling Upward

A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

Downloadable Audiobook - 2011
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In the first half of life, we are naturally preoccupied with establishing ourselves; climbing, achieving, and performing. But as we grow older and encounter challenges and mistakes, we need to see ourselves in a different and more life-giving way. This message of falling down - that is in fact moving upward - is the most resisted and counterintuitive of messages in the world's religions.
Publisher: [United States] : Dreamscape Media, LLC : Made available through hoopla, 2011
Edition: Unabridged
ISBN: 9781611202274
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 audio file (6hr., 27 min.)) : digital
Additional Contributors: Rohr, Richard
hoopla digital


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Aug 14, 2020

I'll be recommending this book to friends. Really helpful.

mko123 Jan 26, 2020

Rohr’s book is a guide to moving into a deeper level of living as we grow older and move out of the daily grind of building careers, houses and identities. The book describes how we live from an ego in the earlier part of part of life. As we progress into our senior years we ideally move into more of a soul centered life, passing on wisdom and giving back to our world. Interestingly, it is often only through our failures or losses that we are bolstered into this deeply rewarding second act. And sadly, some people go through life and never achieve this second phase with its gift of insight. For anyone retiring, you may find much inspiration from this Franciscan priest. I found this book helpful.

Jan 10, 2019

In my recent dark night of the soul, I found Father Rohr's writings. His work on the contemplative approach is fascinating.

Feb 28, 2016

Being well into my second half of life and having read several other books on human development and spirituality, I was interested in reading this one also because some good friends recommended it. The book is well worth reading and thinking about. Fr. Rohr has many good things to say. But I found it less helpful to me than other books like it.

Many of his most helpful and thoughtful sayings are mixed with what read like simplistic put-downs of people living according to what he describes as the "first half" of life. He also makes some broad generalizations about how "most people" for most of our history, and many for most all of their lives, never mature into truly "second half of life" people. This may be true, but it seems a bit overdone to me; as if to invite his readers to consider themselves, along with the author, to be more enlightened than most for seeing themselves in the book or for, at least, being inclined to read it. This sort of thing nearly spoiled the book for me.

I'm a little skeptical of approaches to spirituality that seem to overemphasize finding God within oneself. There's some truth to it, I think. We are made in God's Image and can grow to be more Christlike though the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Greater self understanding is essential to understanding our relationship to God. But it can also lead to self-justification, even at the expense of others in the relative judgements we then make about them. We can end up trusting too much in our own inclinations as a basis for our understanding of God.

Fr. Rohr illustrates many of his points with scripture references often taken out of context. He seems to use the Bible to illustrate his own point of view in many places, rather than as the inspiration for it. Examples of this have been pointed out by other reviewers of the book, leading some of the book's advocates to comment that such a concern for biblical accuracy is the mark of a "first half" person. Ugh. Maybe. Maybe not.

For such a strong advocate of non-dualistic, "both-and" thinking, Fr. Rohr sure relies heavily on what seems to me to be more dualistic, "either-or" distinctions between "first half" and "second half" people with their respective concerns for their "container" vs. its "contents." There is the "shadow self" and the "true self." While there is some validity in these distinctions, they can also make it too easy to pigeonhole others and put ourselves in a category apart, beyond the understanding of others and the flaws they might expose in our own way of thinking and living. Then there are statements like this: "Either God is for everybody and the divine DNA is somehow in all of the creatures, or this God is not God by any common definition, or even much of a god at all" (p. 109). Really? It's just that simple? Hmm.

As I've said, there are many wise and insightful words in this book, but I think it should be read with some detachment and discernment. I have a hard time accepting that everything Fr. Rohr describes as a second half quality of life, which resonates with my experience or outlook on life, is a mark of spiritual maturity. I think spiritual maturity can take different forms in different people depending on their personality and the situations with which life confronts them. Rohr's description may be one of them but I wonder if it may be just as much a product of cultural influence as he says the first half of life is. The "container" and its "contents" may not be so easy to distinguish at any stage of life, if such a distinction even makes sense. Maybe that's OK. I think I can live without it.


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