Holy Vulnerability: Spiritual Practices for the Broken, Ashamed, Anxious and Afraid

Reviewed by:

G. Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.

Title:

Holy Vulnerability: Spiritual Practices for the Broken, Ashamed, Anxious and Afraid

Authors:

Kellye Fabian (foreword by Scot McKnight)

Publisher:

NavPress

Publication Date:

July 6, 2021

Format:

Paperback

Length:

208 pages

OVERVIEW

None of us like being vulnerable, and many of us have been taught that our bodies don’t matter – that the point of the Christian life is just to get by until we get to the real living in heaven. However, in a proper Judeo-Christian understanding the body was created good, and it’s important to integrate physical actions that serve as spiritual exercises. Kellye Fabian helps readers to understand why the body is so important to the spiritual life, and unpacks six things that Christians can do to promote spiritual growth in a holistic way:

  • Surrender Your Body
  • Pray Common Prayers
  • Laugh Out Loud
  • Dig in the Dirt
  • Encourage Others
  • Eat Together

Fabian does a very good job of taking a concept that has been discussed in more academic contexts, particularly in the last 30 years or so. Following the End Times craze of the 1970s-2000s, started by Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Earth and capped with the Left Behind series, scholars have spent a lot of time unpacking what evangelicals have missed about the value of creation and the human body. James K.A. Smith’s You Are What You Love emphasized the power of habit (it turns out, the body really does remember) and story to cultivate spiritual growth. Skye Jethani’s Futureville explicitly argued for a view of Revelation that emphasizes how the things humans make can be good and part of the new creation God is building.

These books have been thoroughly helpful, but leave a lot of questions about how to apply these ideas on a day-to-day level. Fabian’s introduction makes it sound like she’s going to take the academic direction, talking about whether we need to consider that God perhaps meets us “in the middle of our pain.” From there though, she takes a down-to-earth direction. She explains in simple terms why recognizing our vulnerability is important. When she unpacks the six practices, she makes them relatable, connecting them to her own story. While many of these practices have been discussed individually, Fabian brings them under one roof and shows what makes them each a vulnerable yet healing activity. Thus, even people familiar with one or two of these practices will likely find something new here.

Overall, a very wise and practical book.

ASSESSMENT

Rating (1 to 5 stars)

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Suggested Audience

Christians looking for habits that will ground them, creating space for community connections and healing in unexpected ways.

Christian Impact

The author presents a view of spiritual development that includes the body, pushing against pseudo-Gnostic teachings that overly emphasize otherworldly experiences, or intellectual approaches that overly emphasize getting the facts right.

Holy Vulnerability: Spiritual Practices for the Broken, Ashamed, Anxious, and Afraid


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