Upper Room, a United Methodist related ecumenical organization, is dedicated to providing resources for spiritual growth and leadership. Keith Beasley-Topliffe serves as General Editor of this 314 page introduction to the key people, practices, and ideals of Christian spirituality in the Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox traditions. Fifty scholars from many denominations have written 470 articles, covering such topics as prayer, imagery, conformity to the will of God, discipline, the stages of spiritual growth; cross-references are given in boldface print. Special features include a comparative chart of the various streams of Christian spiritual traditions and a list of spiritual classics. Throughout the text are boxes explaining spiritual practices for individual or group use: creating a personal breath prayer, a method for entering prayer, the process for a clearness committee, an examen journal, and more.
Beasley-Topliffe and the other writers profile an ecumenical crosscut of major figures in Christian spirituality from the past (Ambrose, Hildegard of Bingen, William Blake, John Calvin, John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, Douglas V. Steere, and many others) and the present (Joan Chittister, Matthew Fox, Tilden Edwards, Rosemary Radford Reuther, Raimon Panikkar, Richard J. Foster, and many others). Of course, there is ample material as well on traditional Christian themes such as love, faith, hope, silence, grace, humility, and providence.
Although the target audience for this wide-ranging and substantive resource is pastors, seminarians, and teachers focusing on spiritual formation, its outreach should not stop there. It is a very good resource for laity, many of whom are desperately trying to relate their Christian faith to the exigencies of everyday pressures, deadlines, and challenges at home and at work. They need to see the variety of spiritual practices that have developed over the centuries to deal with dryness, accidie, the judgments of others, guarding the heart, seeking justice for the poor, and being both compassionate and forgiving. This companion for the spiritual journey is a Godsend filled with the abundant riches of the Christian tradition.