Reviews of Books & Movies

Book Review: Lifesigns

Intimacy, Fecundity, and Ecstasy in Christian Perspective

By Henri Nouwen (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Much of Lifesigns was written while author Henri Nouwen was staying at l’Arche, a loving and compassion-filled home for the handicapped.

It is, therefore, not surprising that he connects that environment to this discourse.

Nouwen asserts that we show signs of life when we properly understand and pursue intimacy, fecundity (fruitfulness), and ecstasy (joy)—both towards God and towards others.

These results, however, are hampered by fear.

Intimacy is limited by keeping people at a distance or holding them too close; the realization of fecundity is impeded by sterility (non-action) or anxious productivity; and ecstasy is obstructed by clinging to dull routine or persisting in a paralyzing rootlessness.

It is love that moves us away from these six fears and towards the three lifesigns.

It is from that vantage that we can move forward, applying the lessons of the life signs to our world in practical and tangible ways.

[Lifesigns: Intimacy, Fecundity, and Ecstasy in Christian Perspective, by Henri Nouwen. Published by Image, 1989; ISBN: 978-0385236287; 128 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

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