Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

by Richard Rohr

Hardcover, 2011




"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."--… (more)


Jossey-Bass (2011), Edition: 1, 240 pages

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(127 ratings; 4.1)

User reviews

LibraryThing member remikit
Wish there had been more. Turned the page and it had ended.
LibraryThing member akblanchard
Interesting, short but very dense book. I feel as though I might have to re-read it to be sure I understood it. On a first reading, Falling Upward raises more questions than it answers. It's filled with assertions and name-dropping, but it's oddly lacking in specifics. For example, Fr. Rohr tells
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us that he now understands the story of Adam and Eve on "ten different levels" other than the literal (which he asserts is the lowest level of meaning), but he doesn't tell us what those levels are, or how the reader can reach them. Moreover, if mature people are supposed to move past binary thinking during the "second half of life", why are two important concepts in the book, "first half/second half" of life and "True-Self/False Self" presented as binaries?
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LibraryThing member EdwardGleason
This book by Richard Rohr , the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation, "offers a new paradigm for understanding one of the most profound mysteries: how our failings can be the foundation for our ongoing spiritual growth." In fall 2011, this book will be read by a group at
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Trinity-by-the-Cove that meets on Wednesday mornings. Discusion will be lead by Fr. Michael Basden and the group is called the Rector's Bible Study.
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LibraryThing member kaulsu
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.
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Book that I will repurchase as a soft-back.
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LibraryThing member Lake_Oswego_UCC
Describes how to foster spiritual growth in the second half of life, arguing that those who have suffered loss and failures have a greater understanding of true spirituality.
LibraryThing member Lake_Oswego_UCC
Describes how to foster spiritual growth in the second half of life, arguing that those who have suffered loss and failures have a greater understanding of true spirituality.
LibraryThing member revslick
Falling Upward for me is a mixed bag. On the one hand Richard Rohr captures perfectly the image of spiritual maturity and the two essential stages needed to progress toward that image. If this is your first exposure to Rohr then it is an excellent start and I give it 5 stars. On the other hand he
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doesn't flesh out the image as well as he has in other works. I've read several of Richard's work and in my opinion he takes excerpts from several of his works and edits them down into Falling Upward. When compared with his other works it gets a 3; however, it gives such a good foretaste that if this book sparks the journey into spiritual maturity in motion then I highly recommend exploring Rohr further.
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LibraryThing member GilMichelini
Great concepts but reading this is like listening to a crabby old man lecture you. If I had not been reading this with several other guys, I would have abandoned it.
LibraryThing member kateking
a timely review on what life is really all about
LibraryThing member LivelyLady
Thought provoking book of the journey to evolution of a "second half" of life Catholic. In concise terms, Rohr describes the first half, the journey and obstacles to the second half, as well as, what it is to be in the second half. It is always not pretty, but it is peace filled. I feel the
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influence of Merton and the Dali Lama in his thoughts. It is peaceful. I have the companion journal, but have not done it yet. Trying to get a group together to do and discuss.
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LibraryThing member Neftzger
Rohr does an excellent job describing the path to spiritual maturity by explaining a shift from what he terms first half of life perspective to second half of life perspective. While the second half of life may appear to be a decline in things, these things that appear to bring us down actually
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have the opportunity to help us to grow closer to God through a better understanding of grace.
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LibraryThing member bness2
One of the most profound spiritual reads I have enjoyed for some time. Rohr has a way of describing the spiritual journey of a true seeker so that I can see how it actually works. Highly recommended for all true seekers.
LibraryThing member John_Warner
Although Franciscan priest Richard Rohr proposed two halves of one spiritual life, this may be a misnomer since the transition does not need to occur in middle-age; it may occur earlier or late in life, if the transition occurs at all. Drawing heavily on Carl Jung, he proposes that the first half
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focuses primarily on creating our container -- to create one's self-identity. This aspect of our life generally ends when we experience some crisis which pulls us up short, e.g., loss of a job, loss of a marriage, significant injury, etc. This events serves as a catalyst to transition us into the next phase of our spiritual journey, in which we fill our container with a deeper and richer sense of life's meaning.

When reading this spiritual book, I identified several developmental psychologists in addition to Jung in its message including Erik Erikson and Lawrence Kohlberg. I would recommend this book to anyone who only see a continual falling and failing in one's final years.. This book reminds us that development is a lifetime process where falling is also countered by a "falling upward."
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LibraryThing member MaowangVater
Citing numerous psychological and religious writers of many faiths, Rohr presents a model of human spiritual development as two parts, or halves, of life. The second part results from what he terms “necessary suffering” that exposes the limits of an individual’s control over his or her own
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life. Although it’s structured around two halves of life, the first half building up the ego and the second half going beyond it, it could also be summarized as “you must be born again.” The second half is characterized by non-dualistic thinking and a new simplicity that embraces both pain and joy, or to put it another way, life on life’s terms.
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LibraryThing member SueinCyprus
The author's premise is that we all have the potential for two life stages - the first being somewhat rule-bound, dualistic and driven, the second more relaxed. He writes from a Christian perspective, but with references to Ancient Greek heroes, Buddhism and other religious viewpoints.

The writing
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is good, but heavy in places, and highly theoretical with no real examples. Much of what the author said resonated with my experience and observations, but I wasn't comfortable at the idea that the trigger to the second stage of life must always involve suffering of some kind. The middle years often have life changes, perhaps bereavements, job stresses, children leaving home, and sometimes chronic illness, but many people mature without extreme pain.

I'm glad I read it, and found much of the book quite thought-provoking, but it didn't really give any positive guidance or suggestions. Those still in the author's first 'stage' of life (whatever their chronological age) would probably find it confusing, even heretical; those going through difficult circumstances would not necessarily be encouraged at the thought that this 'falling' could be the trigger to moving 'upward.

But still, an interesting read.
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LibraryThing member smallself
You can’t really force yourself into surrender; you have to let yourself fall into it.
LibraryThing member erwinkennythomas
Richard Rohr’s Falling Upwards: A Spirituality for the Two Haves of Life is inspirational and life affirming. The author wrote that during the first half of our lives people are eagerly building their dreams. They are thinking about having a successful life. They would do everything that is
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necessary to accomplish these ends. They play, study, and work hard at all sorts of endeavors. People become professionals in all types of jobs, be it science, arts, astronomy, agriculture, communications, and sports They belong to many groups, charitable organizations, and receive accolades for their work. Their focus is on how to contribute to society by making a name for themselves. The only problem is that most of these first half advocates view the world in a dualistic way – black or white, good or bad, happy or sad, success or failure.
The second half of life is more nuanced and non-dualistic. By now many individuals have suffered setbacks. They have come to know pain and misfortune. They have experienced what it means to grow older. Many of these folks know discomfort from disease like high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer, chronic renal failure among other afflictions. But they strive well in living with these problems. There’s a “luminous sadness” in their lives. These individuals have therefore been propelled to a new reality. They have become contemplative and compassionate. Their afflictions don’t get them down but spur them onwards.
Rohr mainly demonstrated what the thinking of the younger generation is like as opposed to the older. He explained that the second half integrates the dualistic and non-dualistic way of thinking. In a chapter he showed how he himself went through successful changes from the first to the second half of life. Luckily, the author was able to learn from these spiritual insights that he discussed in his book. He described how people should deal with their shadow, and shouldn’t confuse their profession with their identity. It was imperative they cast off their mask and embrace their true self. So, when they look in a mirror they should view their authentic self. People would inevitably fall down many times, but they should get up by what Rohr described as “falling upwards.”
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LibraryThing member stpetersucc
With rare insight, Rohr takes us on a journey to give us an understanding of how the heartbreaks, disappointments, and first loves of life are actually stepping stones to the spiritual joys that the second half of life has in ftore for us.
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