Saturday, April 07, 2018

Grace as Spaciousness: Reviewing Emptiness by David Auten

With this, his third book, David Auten has really come into his own - not only as a theologian and a pastor but as a spiritual guide. With a style and demeanor that's reminiscent of the likes of Henri Nouwen and Richard Rohr, Auten invites the reader into an alternative space. Too much of our theological writing approaches reality as a problem to be solved. Auten approaches it as a mystery to be embraced, liberating the reader from the compulsion of analysis.

Exploring various experiences - including ignorance, conflict, and death - Auten invites the reader to live life with open hands and open hearts, from the spaciousness of emptiness. Reminiscent of Nouwen's concept of speaking out of silence (see The Way of the Heart), Auten invites us to live ex nihilo (from nothing). What we discover when we live in the embrace of this spaciousness, this emptiness, is that whatever is is a gift. In short, we discover that spaciousness is itself a grace. In Christ, we discover the freedom to become nothing and the joy of emptiness. In a world where it has become taboo to do nothing, where we feel compelled, forced even, to fill every minute of our schedules with stuff, to fill every space on our shelves with something, the allowance of emptiness is a transforming and revolutionary grace.

This book should be read and savored by theologians, pastors, and anyone who feels strangled by the clutter of life.

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