Item description for Becoming Human by Jean Vanier...
Overview In this deeply compassionate work, Jean Vanier shares his profoundly human vision for creating a common good that radically changes our communities, our relationships, and ourselves. Our society shuns weakness and glorifies strength. By embracing weakness, however, we learn new ways of living and discover greater compassion, trust and understanding. This spirit inclusion has extraordinary implications for the way we live our lives and build our communities. By opening ourselves to outsiders, those we perceive as weak, different or inferior, we can achieve true personal and societal freedom, the freedom to become truly human.
Publishers Description Acclaimed as a man "who inspires the world," (Maclean's) and a "nation builder" (Globe and Mail), Jean Vanier has made a difference in the lives of countless people. In this provocative book, Vanier shares his profoundly human vision for creating a common good that radically changes our communities, our relationships, and ourselves. He proposes that by opening ourselves to outsiders, those we perceive as weak, different, or inferior, we can achieve true personal and societal freedom. Becoming Human is not only a book of extraordinary ideas, but a revolutionary call to action. The 10th anniversary edition includea a new Introduction by the author.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Becoming Human?
Jean Vanier is a saint Jul 22, 2007
Dear friends, In a country, and where, our thinking ought to be less self-indulgence and more communion with others, "Becoming Human" is a wondeerful and insightful gift on how to heal ourselves so we can see everyone else. I loved this book!
superb May 6, 2006
I was profoundly moved by this book--it is far more insightful, better written, and more sincere than just about any other "spiritual" discourse. Vanier is not someone to promote himself and his ideas. Instead, this short book is straight from the heart of a brilliant man. If only more people read this instead of so much self-indulgent new age literature.
I cannot recommend this strongly enough.
Harder than it needs to be Jan 10, 2005
Vanier mixes timeless truth with a dash of storytelling in this quick read, reaching back into his earliest experiences with the mentally disabled for examples on `becoming human.'
He argues that manifestations of weakness should not be avoided out of ignorance: Now-vigorous people often shun those less fortunate than themselves in the mistaken belief their places will never be reversed. By accepting weakness, however, and by embracing it, such individuals come closer to understanding what it really means to be human.
This work is based upon a series of talks Vanier gave through CBC radio, as well as several lectures he conducted at the University of Toronto. The resulting notes and transcripts were brought together in a single manuscript, which Vanier did little to edit. Instead, he merely added small blocks of text to ease the transition from one thought to another.
As a consequence, the book is given to redundancy in areas where the lecture notes and CBC transcripts probably overlap. These raw text dumps are so distracting they detract from the book's message; and the material, though offered up in thematic chapters, doesn't have any real sense of order.
The author would have done better to rewrite this book based upon his notes, rather than borrowing directly from them. In that way, he could have formed better links between each topic, while at the same time weeding out any glaring repetition.
Accessible Reflections on Spirituality in Practice Aug 31, 2004
The book entails the material of five talks that its author, Jean Vanier, gave on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio program. Vanier is the founder of "L'Arche," which is an international network in more than 30 countries for people with intellectual disabilities.
The author comments that the book springs from his experience of humanness and not directly from his life of faith. In this sense the book is more about anthropology than about spirituality. "This book is about the liberation of the human heart from the tentacles of chaos and loneliness," writes its author, "and from those fears that provoke us to exclude and reject others. It is a liberation that opens us up and leads us to the discovery of our common humanity" (5). Among the subjects addressed in the chapters are the following: loneliness, belonging, inclusion, freedom and forgiveness. The author argues that by opening ourselves to outsiders we can achieve true personal and societal freedom, which includes the freedom to become truly human.
creating a common good Jul 21, 2004
Jean Vanier is my favorite philosopher and spiritual thinker, and although he's a Christian, his teachings have tremendous appeal to people of all religious or non-religious perspectives. What a wonderful, wonderful human being. God bless him! Growing up, I used to eagerly watch Jean Vanier's TV program where he talks about the importance of love and relationship with others, what he calls communion and forming community. And in his sermons he always emphasizes how relationship with a person you care about is more important than material gain. He talks about how materialism satisfies the senses but it leaves an aching emptiness of the soul, which can only be filled by a spiritual relationship with God and an emotional relationship with other people, all based on love. What I love about Vanier's teachings is how he challenges us to open ourselves up to outsiders, especially to those that society sees as weak, different, or inferior, and that by opening up our hearts to them, we can help heal our own inner brokenness as well as theirs. Our world values strength and achievement, but by embracing weakness, we reach a higher inner level of personal compassion and understanding. It's all about learning to accept a person just as he is, rather than shutting oneself off from him simply because he isn't what you expect. It's about unconditional friendship through love, and love through friendship. The people in this world who understand this message and the few who actually live it are truly the blessed of God.