Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

by Richard Rohr


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A fresh way of thinking about spirituality that grows throughout life

In Falling Upward, Fr. Richard Rohr seeks to help readers understand the tasks of the two halves of life and to show them that those who have fallen, failed, or "gone down" are the only ones who understand "up." Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of life, but the whole thesis of this book is exactly the opposite.  What looks like falling down can largely be experienced as "falling upward."  In fact, it is not a loss but somehow actually a gain, as we have all seen with elders who have come to their fullness.  

  • Explains why the second half of life can and should be full of spiritual richness
  • Offers a new view of how spiritual growth happens loss is gain
  • Richard. Rohr is a regular contributing writer for Sojourners and Tikkun magazines

This important book explores the counterintuitive message that we grow spiritually much more by doing wrong than by doing right.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780470907757
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 04/19/2011
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 13,153
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Fr. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province. He founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1986, where he presently serves as Founding Director. Fr. Rohr is the author of more than twenty books, an internationally known speaker, and a regular contributing writer for Sojourners and Tikkun magazines, and the CAC's quarterly journal, Radical Grace.

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Table of Contents

The Invitation to a Further Journey vii

Introduction xiii

1 The Two Halves of Life 1

2 The Hero and Heroine’s Journey 17

3 The First Half of Life 25

4 The Tragic Sense of Life 53

5 Stumbling over the Stumbling Stone 65

6 Necessary Suffering 73

7 Home and Homesickness 87

8 Amnesia and the Big Picture 97

9 A Second Simplicity 105

10 A Bright Sadness 117

11 The Shadowlands 127

12 New Problems and New Directions 137

13 Falling Upward 153

Coda 161

Notes 169

Bibliography 177

The Author 183

Index 185

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Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A mature and refective study on the nature of one's true and authentic spiritual journey. The necessary steps one must take in order to be fully-realized in this life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great concept - and accurate, too, I believe. But the writing is marginal. Too often, Rohr uses one hundred words when thirty would do. And when you're looking for sharper clarity on particular ideas, he doesn't offer it. The book's obtuseness made sense to me when Rohr revealed in one of the final chapters that he wrote the book during a Lenten hermitage. That tells me he was highly sensitive to certain ideas, but he forgot to bring his thought process down to earth. Falling Upward is a good first draft of what could've been a really fine study.
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
Richard Rohr, writer, activist, lecturer, Franciscan Priest, has lived long and reflected deeply upon that living. In this small, but very weighty tome, he distills his conclusions about life being lived fully, deeply, in full awareness and completeness. His words are dense, accurate and speak directly to the heart. This is not a book that can be, nor needs to be, read quickly. Each page, often each paragraph, holds ideas which explode into the mind and attach to the Spirit of the reader. “We do not ‘make’ or ‘create’ souls; we just ‘grow them up.’”(p.x) “None of us go into our spiritual maturity completely of our own accord, or by a totally free choice. We are led by Mystery, which religious people rightly call grace.” (p. xvi) “We grow spiritually much more by getting it wrong (making mistakes) than by doing it right.” (p. xxii) (emphasis mine). “Myths are true basically because they work.” (p. xxx) “. . . whatever reconnects (re-ligio) our parts to the Whole is in experience of God, whether we call it that or not.” (p. xxxiv) These are but a few “moments upon which to pause” found in the introduction. The next 168 pages are likewise dense. Fr. Rohr’s premise is that life is divided into two halves. The first half is spent building a “container” (education, career, family, identify, etc.) for our life. The second half can be the filling of that container with fullness, depth, simplicity leading to the individual becoming an “elder” for those in the first half of life.  This “Falling Upward” of the second half of life brings about a wideness of life, the understanding of rules as suggestions for life but they are to be followed only as far as they create connection and relationship. Using poetry, a lot of Biblical Scripture, Depth and Self Psychology, Mythology and a Wisdom Literature from a broad spectrum of faith systems, the author makes a strong argument for his case. He speaks clearly of the need to embrace the pain and tragedy common to life, letting it teach us the richness that comes from living full and which can occur only by surrendering what we think we know and the expectations of how things should be. Only by doing so can one fill the “container” of life’s “first half,” giving it meaning definition and the wideness of true freedom. “Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God’s own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us.” (p. 57). “The more you exclude, the more hellish and lonely your existence is.” (p. 101) Repeatedly, Fr. Rohr reminds the reader that “God writes straight using crooked lines,” and the both of life’s “halves” reflect the truth that we are the “writing” brought about by such Grace.  There is much depth, reality and heart-freeing truth found in this book that to hint at its benefit to me would require a long in-person discussion of each chapter. I would welcome such discourse.
DoranneLongPTMS More than 1 year ago
Wonderful book, to be read again and again. Written by a man who knows from whence he comes. (Similar to reading Parker Palmer.) Almost every page in my book is high-lighted for a variety of reasons: great quotes from people who speak with wisdom, an affirmation of where we are in our own lives, great imagery, affirmation, and encouragement. It doesn't have to be either/or; it can be both/and. I too see life as positive or negative energy; I choose to add positive energy to the world, and to those around me. One of my take-away images is that of a mirror: "Let the Light mirror you; we can reflect on our lives to get a sense of who we are; we need true friends to be honest mirrors for us; hopefully our work on this earth will be a good refection on us.
davep More than 1 year ago
The book gives a superb insight into the progression followed by thinkers of how God interfaces with humans at various times of their lives. The book highlights the second half of life, usually 50-60 or older, and the changes that occur during that time when more introspection is usually accomplished.
rkebell More than 1 year ago
This should be required reading for anyone 50 years or older.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I find Rohh's thesis thought provoking as we pass through our various stages of life and wonder what it is all about and what happens beyond. Is there a God? Is there a heaven and hell? Is heaven on earth what God seeks for us humans? If so, is there an after-life experience? Rohr helped me wrestle with these questions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kaulsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rohr shows us how to let go of the judgmental ways of our youth--what he calls the 'first half' of our lives, and live fully into the potential of our God-given talents during the second-half of our lives. It is not a book to be read at one sitting, nor even a book to be read only once. It may be. Book that I will repurchase as a soft-back.
remikit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wish there had been more. Turned the page and it had ended.
kateking on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a timely review on what life is really all about
Storiale More than 1 year ago
Hi Interview on Pete Holmes's podcast was excellent and thoughtful. I will be buying this book based on that 2 hour interview and I can't wait to get it. I will update this post after I read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. I will read it more than once. This book gives you lots to think about and is very uplifting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have recommended this book to more people than I have any other book. It is not a fast read. It is a serious soul-searching study.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoughtful & insightful understanding of the seasons and journey of life.
HCE2 More than 1 year ago
A very thoughtful book about the 2 halves of life, and what it means to be with God here on earth. A fantastic read, filled with more thought provoking ideas than most any other book I have read. A must read if you are a Christian.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think whether you felt it was an exceptional book or completely the opposite depends upon, as Rohr writes about, whether or not you have had the experience of Falling Upward. Even if you have only "fallen" and are awaiting the "upward" part you will find value in what Rohr has to say. Essentially what he is writing about is the Paschal Mystery ha is for all of us to experience in the here and now and not just at the end of our lives. What Rohr is teaching his readers is what truly is the Good News of Jesus Christ that too often is never understood  and thus missed. It's a short read, so if your on the fence of whether or not to read it, I say give it a shot.  If it doesn't speak to you you will not have lost much time in your life; however, if you are at a place in your life where this will "hit you between the eyes" you will experience "new life within" and be forever grateful you took the time to read it.If you don't want to risk spending the money, then get it at the library!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love it.  I am buying another copy for a friend.
floridalinda More than 1 year ago
Richard Rohr examines the two halves of life with depth that requires (for me) a second reading. So much to ponder as one looks at life from his/her own vantage point. FALLING UPWARD is not about the downward spiral of life as one ages, but about the call to a fuller life with different and broader values.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago