Book Review: ‘Falling Upward’ by Richard Rohr

Do you ever walk into a book store or a library and are immediately overwhelmed by the vast amount of literature and information collected there? Does it make it difficult to pick out something to read? Or if you are anything like me you will want to grab them all. I live by a philosophy, “No Cover Goes Uncracked.” However, because of the vast amount of reading to be done, I often get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.

I have always been an avid reader, however, as life has gotten busier that has been one spiritual practice I have continually let slide. Throughout my process of deconstruction/reconstruction, especially this last year, I have made reading a priority again. I have read some amazing, life-changing books and I want to share them with you.

I will be starting a new ‘Book Review’ series on my blog where I give reviews of the books that I have recently read. Hopefully this will help you sift through the vast amounts of reading material and help you narrow down that search for the next book you will read. Or perhaps I will save you some time reading a book that isn’t very helpful (But so far I have read some amazing works that I will be fully recommending). I will start with the book that I most recently finished, Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward.


Falling Upward: A Spirituality of the Two Halves of Life
By: Richard Rohr

Falling Upward

Many people are mistaken in thinking that Rohr’s book, Falling Upward, is a book for those entering the later half of life, meaning that is for those “Over the Hill” on the back end of life.  This book really has nothing to do with age. It does not mean your first half of life is from age 0-40 and your second half of life is from 41-80+.

This book is about the two spiritual halves of life.

There is the first half of your spiritual life where we work so hard to build up our ‘false selves’ and we are so worried about power, structure, and institutions. This half is far more concerned with ‘Me, Myself, and I’ than it is about God or serving the other. This half is about the building up of yourself, your individuality – it is about creating your identity.

Then there is the second half of life, where you find your true self and are able to finally and fully live into who you were created to be. It is only in this ‘second half’ that you are able to let go of the illusion that we have built up in the first half and begin to swim in the deep waters of spirituality. According to Rohr, this is where the mystics of every faith tradition find themselves. It is the path of contemplation.

Rohr is a Franciscan monk and has practiced deep contemplation and taught it for many years.  Falling Upward is Rohr imparting his lifetime of knowledge, but it is also his encouragement for our own spiritual journeys.

Interestingly, Rohr emphasizes again and again that we need the first half in order to get to the second half. So we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for all the work we did building up our false selves. In fact, he talks about the first half as ‘building up our container’ that will hold our second half.

Rohr also makes very clear that almost universally, if one finds their way into the second half of their spiritual life, people must undergo great challenges, struggles, and suffering to reach the second half. One cannot simply read Rohr’s book and will themselves into the second half. It can help guide their journey, but each individual must walk their own journey.  The struggle of climbing the mountain and journeying the depths of the valley is actually the very thing that will allow one to let go of their illusions and allow themselves to live into their true self. If an individual finds themselves in the comfort of dwelling on the beach by a lake, well, what reason do they have to question or wonder if there is something more or deeper.  They don’t. And they won’t want to let the comfort and security go. Finding our way into the second half is difficult work.

It should be made clear that not everyone actually makes it through the valley and into the second half of their spiritual journey. Some people choose to be stuck in the first half forever. This can be for many reasons, but mostly it seems to be that the individual chooses to hold onto the reality of perceived power, wealth, and security that they have created for themselves in the first half. They cannot let it go. Much like the rich man that Jesus told to go sell all of his possessions and give it away to the poor before he could follow him, the man was unwilling to let it all go. (Luke 18:18-23)

Regardless of where you might feel you are at in your journey, I recommend Falling Upward. It might help you gain clarity and insight into your own journey and where you have been. It might jump-start some questioning and pondering for you. It is not an answer book or an easy fix or a handbook towards finding God. It is a gentle prodding to those on the beach of their first half telling them that there is far more to be found if they just start walking. It is also a word of encouragement to let you know that you are not alone if you find yourself on that journey now. The transition can be incredibly difficult from the first half to the second. To know that there are others who have gone before us is helpful.

You can purchase Falling Upward HERE


Let me know in the comments if you have read Falling Upward and what your thoughts are. Also please share with me what you currently reading and if you recommend it.

Wherever you are in your journey, may the peace which surpasses all understanding be with you all.

©Derek Harkins 2018

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Enneagram Experts: Your Go-To Gurus

As I stated in my last post (HERE), I am not an expert on the Enneagram. I have only been studying it and doing my own self-reflection and deconstruction/reconstruction for a year now. That being said, I do have several experts I would like to recommend to you on just about every platform available…a little something for everyone’s personal learning preference.


We will start with my favorite way to learn – taking it back to the Old SchoolBooks! Reading words on real, bound, paper pages is still my preferred way to study and learn. Of course, many of these books I will be recommending can be found for your favorite e-reader, but be sure to have a notebook or journal ready to jot down notes in. Here are the books I recommend and in this reading order (of course if you are a One you will follow my reading order perfectly, if you are an Eight you will read in whatever order you darn well please, and if you are a Five you won’t need these recommendations at all because you will have already researched them yourself):

The Road Back to You Cover

1.The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery By Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile are the current Enneagram ‘Rock Stars’ and you will see them both featured a couple times in this article with other projects. The Road Back to You is the perfect doorway into The Enneagram.  It is the primer you need to help you find your number if you are struggling with figuring that out. It also is a great thorough starting point towards understanding all of the other numbers and their intricacies. It doesn’t go into great depth, but is a great starting point.

Purchase The Road Back to You HERE

The Complete Enneagram Cover

2. The Complete Enneagram: 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge By Beatrice Chestnut, PHD

Beatrice Chestnut titled her work here appropriately. This indeed is the COMPLETE Enneagram. There is so much depth, knowledge, wisdom, and information here that calls for multiple readings of the entire book. While it is ‘academic’ and thorough, it is also very readable, so no worries there. If you are at all serious about digging deep and doing real personal reflection and work this is a must read.

Purchase The Complete Enneagram HERE

The Enneagram Christian Perspective Cover

3. The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective By Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert

The Enneagram can be an incredible tool for self-understanding, but it is also an amazing tool for enhancing your Spiritual Life and connection to God and creation. Rohr and Ebert do a great job of this by tying The Enneagram into their understanding of the Christian faith. Rohr, a Franciscan Monk and author of several other books, is known across the world as a leading and respected Enneagram expert. I found this book much more helpful and understandable after I had a deeper grasp on what The Enneagram is. It was the first book I tried to read and had to put it down to read The Road Back to You, but then came back to it recently and was pleased to be able to connect with it on a much deeper level and enjoyed it greatly.

Purchase The Enneagram HERE

(These last two book recommendations are books that I personally have not read yet, but they are on my reading list.)

The Sacred Enneagram Cover

4. The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth By Christopher L. Heuertz

Purchase The Sacred Enneagram HERE

The Path Between Us Cover

5. The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships By Suzanne Stabile

Purchase The Path Between Us HERE


The next medium that I have used a ton for learning is Podcasts. Podcasts are awesome ways to learn from real experts at just about anytime whether it be when you are driving, working, cleaning, cooking, relaxing, waiting…well you get the point. Huge fan of podcasts in general, but these are a few Enneagram themed podcasts that I found to be enlightening and helpful:

The Liturgists Podcast

1. The Liturgists Podcast: episode 37 By Michael Gungor and Science Mike

The Liturgists Podcast is a great podcast all around and they cover absolutely every topic under the sun. However, I am specifically recommending that you listen to Episode 37 of their podcast initially before the others, because it is a great starting point. Michael and Science Mike interview Suzanne Stabile and Ian Morgan Cron and it gives a great basic understanding of The Enneagram and all nine numbers.

Find Episode 37 of The Liturgist Podcast HERE

typology_1600px

2. Typology By Ian Morgan Cron

Typology is a great podcast that is Enneagram all the time. Ian Morgan Cron, coauthor of The Road Back to You, usually interviews other people talking to them about their numbers. Many different subjects arise and how the Enneagram fits into each situation. Highly recommend.

Find Typology at your favorite Podcast app, iTunes, or HERE

the Enneagram Journey

3. The Enneagram Journey By Suzanne Stabile

Much like Typology, The Enneagram Journey is a podcast where coauthor of The Road Back to You, Suzanne Stabile, interviews people and talks to them about their number and how they relate to the world and to other people and numbers. It is a great podcast and I always appreciate Suzanne’s perspective and wisdom.

Find The Enneagram Journey at your favorite Podcast app, iTunes, or HERE

sleeping at last podcast

4. The Sleeping At Last Podcast By Ryan O’Neal

If you haven’t heard of Sleeping at Last and the music of Ryan O’Neal, you are missing out! Ryan is a Chicago based singer-songwriter, composer, and producer. Ryan is also a student of the Enneagram and has taken it upon himself to compose a song for each number of the Enneagram. He has only released the first 5 numbers, but each one is breathtaking and incredibly insightful. On his podcast he breaks the songs down and tells you why he made the compositional and production choices he made based upon each number. He also has Enneagram expert Chris Heuertz, author of The Sacred Enneagram, on to help him break down each number. Each episode and song is fascinating and I can’t wait until he has released them all (mostly because I am a Nine and my song will be last! HA!) Definitely give these a listen, even if they aren’t your specific number.

Find The Sleeping At Last Podcast at your favorite Podcast app, iTunes, or HERE


Another great resource for learning is of course the internet. There are two main websites that I have found helpful, but of course there is an endless supply of information if you just Google. The two webpages I recommend are:

1. https://www.enneagramworldwide.com/  <——— My primary web source

2. https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/


Finally, if you are really serious about digging deeper you can always consider seeking out workshops or retreats that an accredited Enneagram teacher might be leading in a city near you. For those on a budget or can’t travel or who simply want to learn from the comfort of their couch, The Liturgist have released a wonderful online workshop on The Enneagram with Enneagram expert Annie Diamond. Check it out HERE


There, that should keep you all plenty busy for awhile! HA!  I hope you find these resources helpful. I would love to hear from you if you find any specific insights helpful or have questions. We are all here to learn together. Were there any resources that I missed that you have found helpful? I would love to hear about them.

Peace.

©Derek Harkins 2018